Constantine Samuel Rafinesque Papers1819-1825

Descriptive Summary

Constantine Samuel Rafinesque Papers1819-1825
Rafinesque, C. S. (Constantine Samuel), 1783-1840
ca. 4.5 cubic ft.
Burnett, Micajah, 1791-1879 -- Portraits.
Clay, Henry, 1777-1852.
Clifford, John D., 1777?-1820.
Dudley, Benjamin W. (Benjamin Winslow), 1785-1870.
Holley, Horace, 1781-1827.
Rafinesque, C. S. (Constantine Samuel), 1783-1840.
Transylvania Botanic Garden Co.
Transylvania University. Board of Trustees.
Transylvania University -- Faculty.
Architects -- Kentucky -- Portraits.
Botanical gardens -- Kentucky -- Lexington.
Natural history -- Kentucky -- Research.
Natural history -- Study and teaching -- Kentucky.
Naturalists -- Kentucky.
Universities and colleges -- Kentucky -- Lexington -- Faculty.
United States -- Maps.
Finding Aid Author
Processed by: Staff; machine-readable finding aid created by:Eric Weig
Transylvania University

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Constantine Samuel Rafinesque was born in Constantinople in 1783, and he moved with his family to France a year later. Following a trip to America (1802-1805), he spent ten years in Sicily, where he studied natural history under British ichthyologist, William Swainson, before returning to the United States. In 1818 Rafinesque traveled to Lexington, Kentucky where he visited his friend John D. Clifford, through whom Rafinesque received an 1819 appointment at Transylvania University as lecturer on botany and natural sciences.
Rafinesque remained at Transylvania until 1826 and was engaged during this period in numerous field studies throughout Kentucky and surrounding states. In addition to lecturing at Transylvania, he published numerous papers on natural science topics; began publication of a journal, WESTERN MINERVA; and was active in the establishment of a short-lived botanical garden through the Transylvania Botanic Garden Company, whose founding members included Horace Holley, Benjamin W. Dudley, and Henry Clay. In 1825 Rafinesque left Lexington for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he spent the rest of his life.
Scope and Content
This collection is comprised of correspondence and other papers relating to Samuel Constantine Rafinesque's professorship at Transylvania University (1819-1826) and to the Transylvania Botanic Garden Company. Papers include letters of John D. Clifford and Rafinesque to the Transylvania University Board of Trustees relating to Rafinesque's employment and the board's offer of a position (1819); a brief report to the board of trustees by Rafinesque as secretary of the faculty (1824); and various petitions and notes to the board relating to leaves of absence, salary increments, or materials for his research projects (1822-1825).
Also present are papers relating to the establishment of the Transylvania Botanic Garden Company, including organizational by-laws, minutes, printed notices concerning sale of stock in the company, correspondence, lists of purchases, and receipts (1824-1825). Among these items is a journal used by Rafinesque to record the purchase of plants and their arrangement in the garden, and a subscription book listing company shareholders. Other materials include a holographic map labelled "Carte del Amerique meridionale avant les deluges," and portrait drawings by Rafinesque of local residents including Micajah Burnett, the architect of the Shaker community at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.
Condition of material: fair (acid damage).