SCUA

Torrey, Ray Ethan, 1887-

Ray Ethan Torrey Papers, 1832-1983.

13 boxes (5.5 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 121
Ray Ethan Torrey. Photo by Frank A. Waugh
Ray Ethan Torrey. Photo by Frank A. Waugh

A plant morphologist and member of the Botany Department at Massachusetts Agricultural College, Ray Ethan Torrey was among the college’s most charismatic faculty members during the early twentieth century. Born in Leverett, Mass., and educated in the local public schools, Torrey graduated from MAC with the class of 1912, earning his PhD at Harvard six years later. After serving on the faculty of Grove City College and Wesleyan, he returned to his alma mater in 1919, where he remained for more than 36 years. A specialist in plant morphology and author or two widely used textbooks and numerous articles, Torrey’s introductory course in botany was among the most popular in the college. He was best known, however, for taking a broader, philosophical approach to science that encouraged students to explore the connections between philosophy, science, religion, and the humanities. Torrey died of leukemia in Boston on Jan. 16, 1956.

Correspondence, chiefly with former students and colleagues at other institutions; lecture notes and outlines; 27 pen and ink drawings; published writings and drawings; biographical material; class and laboratory notes taken by students; family and educational records (1832-1956); photographs, and other papers.

Background on Ray Ethan Torrey

Ray Ethan Torrey (1887-1956), an author and Professor of Botany at Massachusetts State College, was born in North Leverett, Massachusetts, in 1887. After earning a BS from Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1912, Torrey taught for several years at Grove City College and Wesleyan College while earning his masters (1916) and doctorate (1918) in Botany from Harvard. In 1919 he returned to the Massachusetts Agricultural College and remained there for the rest of his career, rising to full professor in 1937.

On campus, Torrey was known as a dynamic speaker and excellent teacher. Year after year, he was selected by the senior class as the college’s best teacher and his famous Friday evening seminars, where Torrey employed philosophy, religion, literature, art, and music to stimulate thinking, inspired generations of students. Former students of Torrey’s became leading figures in botany, filling the faculty ranks at Brown, Harvard, Iowa State, John Hopkins, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Yale, Antioch and Bennington Colleges, and the Universities of California, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, and Washington. One former student, Oswald Tippo, became a Provost and first Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Torrey’s published writings included The Anatomy and Physiology of the Seed Plants (1922), General Botany with an Instructors Manual (1923) and A Set of Botanical Drawings for Laboratory Use (1923), Introductory Botany (Vol. 1, 1925; Vol. 2, 1926), Science and Its Function in Education (1933), The Evolution of Green Plants (1936), and several papers in the field of plant morphology and phylogeny.

In addition to his far-reaching activities as a teacher and writer, Dr. Torrey was an influential member of the Theosophical Society and contributed to the Theosophical Quarterly.

Contents of Collection

The papers of Ray Ethan Torrey document a distinguished career as a professor of botany and as an author. The contents of the collection range from correspondence to drafts of publications and scientific illustrations, however the the bulk of the collection consists of materials used in teaching, including his class lectures, lecture outlines, and notes by students. Torrey’s correspondence is only fragmentary, representing only a fraction of the large number of letters he wrote to former students and friends, but include letters with Otto Degener, M. L. Fernald, Burton N. Gates, B. L. Robinson, Bernice G. Schubert, and Robert Woodworth.

Torrey’s writings are well represented and complement the course materials. Included are published volumes of The Anatomy and Physiology of the Seed Plants (1922), General Botany (1923), Introductory Botany (Vol. 1, 1925; Vol. 2, 1926), Science and Its Function in Education (1923), and a typescript of his book Angiosperms, left uncompleted at his death.

The papers also contain twenty-seven pen-and-ink drawings by Torrey, probably executed to illustrate a book by his Harvard dissertation director, E. C. Jeffrey, and possibly reused in Torrey’s own books. There is a set of published laboratory drawings (1941) and three sketches by others of Torrey’s residences.

Series descriptions
1832-1956
0.25 linear feet

Contains short biographies, family and genealogical records, educational records, certificates of birth, awards, photographs, a will, an inventory of Torrey’s belongings made upon his death, newspaper clippings, and an annotated list of reference readings for regarding knowledge and the spiritual life.

The short biographies include biographical sketches by Dr. Oswald Tippo, a former student of Torrey and the first Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, and Robert Francis, an Amherst poet; as well as several clippings and obituaries. Family and genealogical records include certificates of marriage, lists of family members, and photographs of Torrey (1907), Torrey’s father, Theodore, and grandfather, Jacob. Educational records include the 1912 Massachusetts Agricultural College Commencement Program, his high school and college grade records, and his Ph.D. diploma from Harvard. Also included here is a certificate of Torrey’s membership in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1917), and a certificate appointing him as the Sheldon Fellow in Botany at Harvard for the academic year 1917-1918.

1912-1983
0.25 linear feet

Incoming and outgoing letters of Ray Ethan Torrey for the years 1912-1955. Correspondents include: Otto Degener, M.L. Fernald, B.L. Robinson, Robert Woodsworth, Bernice G. Schubert, Burton N. Gates. There are also several letters to and from Isaac C. Kether, then President of Grove City College, Grove City, Pennsylvania, referring to a teaching position that Torrey eventually accepted, and a group of letters from Torrey to Carrolle Anderson Markle.

This series includes letters from Don Smith, Class of 1934, dating from 1981-1983, concerning Torrey and the acquisition of some of his papers for this collection.

1918-1933
1 linear feet

Contains addresses, published volumes, offprints of articles, and a typescript of an unpublished book. Addresses include a speech delivered before the Division of Science, Massachusetts Agricultural College on January 25, 1918, and the opening address at a meeting of the New York Branch of the Theosophical Society on March 29, 1930. Offprints are in the fields of plant morphology and phylogeny. This series also contains a typescript of his unpublished book Angiosperms and published volumes of: The Anatomy and Physiology of the Seed Plants (1922), Introductory Botany (1922), General Botany (1923) with an Instructors Manual (1923) and A Set of Botanical Drawings for Laboratory Use (1923), Introductory Botany (vol. 1, 1925; vol. 2, 1926), Science and Its Function in Education (1933), and Evolution of Green Plants (1936). Also in published form is the third part of his Ph.D. dissertation, Comparative Anatomy and Phylogeny of Coniferales (1923).

Torrey was a contributor to the Theosophical Quarterly; an index for the journal is included to indicate where these writings can be located.

1925-1950
2.25 linear feet

Contains typescripts of class lectures, lecture outlines, bound volumes of class lectures, photographs that accompany the lectures, and class notes by students. It was Dr. Torrey’s practice to prepare formal typescripts of his lectures and to make them available for students to produce typed copies outside of class (this was before the advent of electrostatic copying machines) and to share with each other. Some such materials were also mimeographed, including drawings of plants and sections of plants, for use in botany courses.

Courses represented in this collection: Introductory Botany (1925, 1934-1936, 1946, 1950), The Evolution of Green Plants (1935/36, 1949/50), Angiosperms (1948/49), Systematic Botany of the Higher Plants (1926/27, 1934/35) and a General Philosophy Honors Course (1934/35). The materials for the Evolution of Green Plants (1935-1936) and both versions of Systematic Botany of the Higher Plants are bound volumes. The photographs accompany the course on Angiosperms (1948-1949).

ca.1920-1950
2 linear feet

Consists of twenty-seven original pen and ink drawings by Torrey, probably executed to illustrate a book by his Harvard dissertation director, Professor E. C. Jeffrey, and possibly used in one or more of Torrey’s own books; and three sketches of Torrey’s residences, not by Torrey. A Set of Botanical Drawings for Laboratory Use accompanies General Botany for Colleges and is located with it in Series 3: Writings.

Collection inventory
Series 1. Biographical materials
1832-1956
0.25 linear feet
Biographical information
1887-1956
Box 1: 1
Letters from RET
1919
Box 1: 1
Letters regarding R.E.T.
1978-1981
Box 1: 1
“Ouija,” Grove City College yearbook (1 p.)
1915
Box 1: 1
Inventory of RET’s belongings created upon his death
undated
Box 1: 2
Family and educational records, photographs, and correspondence
1907-1955
Box 1: 3
Records from T.W. Torrey
1981
Box 1: 3
Certificate of Marriage: Isaac Snell to Alfreda Hatch
1832
Box 1: 3
Certificate of Marriage: Dr. Orin Andrews to Victoria M. Snell
1869
Box 1: 3
Report Cards: Montague High School
1902-1906
Box 1: 3
Photograph: RET
1907
Box 1: 3
Grade report: Massachusetts Agricultural College
1912
Box 1: 3
Commencement program: Massachusetts Agricultural College
1912
Box 1: 3
Letter to Dr. Isaac C. Kittler, with reply
1912
Box 1: 3
Certificate of Election to American Association for the Advancement of Science
1917
Box 1: 3
Certificate: Harvard Sheldon Fellowship
1917-1918
Box 1: 3
Diploma: Harvard
1918
Box 1: 3
Letters: RET to T.W. Torrey
1953-1954
Box 1: 3
Photograph: Theodore O. Torrey
undated
Box 1: 3
Photograph: Jacob Torrey
undated
Box 1: 3
Newspaper clipping, obituary of Theodore O. Torrey
undated
Box 1: 3
List of deaths, births, marriages (2 p.)
undated
Box 1: 3
Torrey genealogy
undated
Box 1: 3
Torrey family record
undated
Box 1: 3
Series 2. Correspondence
1912-1983
0.25 linear feet
Correspondence: general
1912-1955
Box 1: 4
Correspondence: general
1978-1981
Box 1: 5
Correspondence: Don Smith
1981-1987
Box 1: 6
Correspondence: O. Degener
1922-1954
Box 1: 7
Correspondence: Gray Herbarium, B. Schubert, M. Fernald, B. Robinson
1922-1948
Box 1: 8
Correspondence: Gates, Potter, Webster
1944-1950
Box 1: 9
Correspondence: Robert Woodworth
1924-1926
Box 1: 10
Outgoing Letters: Carolle Anderson Markle
1933-1955
Box 1: 11
Series 3. Writings
1918-1933
1 linear feet
Address: Massachusetts Agricultural College Alumni Day
1918-1931
Box 1: 12
The Anatomy and Physiology of the Seed Plants (2 copies)
1922
Box 1: 13
Angiosperms
ca.1938
Box
Typescript: preface-p. 25
ca.1938
Box 1: 14
Typescript: introduction-p. 49
ca.1938
Box 1: 15
Typescript: p. 26-47
ca.1938
Box 1: 16
Typescript: p. 48-70
ca.1938
Box 1: 17
Typescript: p. 50-99
ca.1938
Box 1: 18
Draft: chapter 3, p. 1-71
ca.1938
Box 1: 19
Draft: chapter 3, p. 72-132
ca.1938
Box 1: 20
Draft: p. 100-149
ca.1938
Box 1: 21
Drawings
ca. 1938
Box 1: 22
Typescript: p. 151-199
ca.1938
Box 2: 1
Typescript: p. 200-249
ca.1938
Box 2: 2
Typescript: p. 250-299
ca.1938
Box 2: 3
Typescript: p. 300-349
ca.1938
Box 2: 4
Typescript: p. 350-399
ca.1938
Box 2: 5
Typescript: p. 400-449
ca.1938
Box 2: 6
Typescript: p. 450-499
ca.1938
Box 2 : 7
Typescript: p. 500-549
ca.1938
Box 2: 8
Typescript: p. 550-599
ca.1938
Box 2: 9
Typescript: p. 600-649
ca.1938
Box 2: 10
Typescript: p. 650-704
ca.1938
Box 2: 11
The Comparative Anatomy and Phylogeny of the Coniferales: Part 3, Mesozoic and Tertiary Coniferous Woods
1923
Box 2: 12
General Botany for Colleges (2 copies)
1932
Box 2: 13
A set of botanical drawings for laboratory use ( 2 copies)
ca. 1932
Box 3: 1
Theosophical Quarterly Index
1903-1938
Box 3: 2
Science and Its Function In Education by R.E. Torrey (2 copies)
1933
Box 3: 3
Offprints
Box
“The Old Massachusetts Herbarium” published in Rhodora by R.E. Torrey and E.L. Davis
1953
Box 3: 4
“Physiological and Morphological Correlations in Herbaceous Angiosperms” published in The Botanical Gazette by C.E. Jeffrey and R.E. Torrey
1921 Jan.
Box 3: 4
“Transitional Herbacious Dicotyledons” published in Annals of Botany by C.E. Jeffrey and R.E. Torrey
1921 Apr.
Box 3: 4
“Telephragmoxylon and the origin of wood parenchyma” published in Annals of Botany
1921 Jan.
Box 3: 4
Series 4. Course materials
1925-1950
2.25 linear feet
Angiosperms (Botany 59-60)
Box
Lecture outline
1948-1949
Box 3: 5
Typed notes, with photos added by Theodore Delevoryas (Part 1, p. 1-178)
1948-1949
Box 3: 6
Typed notes (Part II, p. 179-371)
1948-1949
Box 3: 7
Typed notes (Part III, p. 372-546)
1948-1949
Box 3: 8
Typed notes (Part IV, p. 547-711)
1948-1949
Box 4: 1
Summaries, lists , reviews, lecture outline, and exam (part 6)
Box 4: 2
Question outline
c.1935-1936
Box 4: 3
Photographs, Torrey’s typed notes (part 1)
1948-1949
Box 4 : 4
Photographs, Torrey’s typed notes (part 2)
1948-1949
Box 4 : 5
Photographs, Torrey’s typed notes (parts 3-4)
1948-1949
Box 4: 6
Evolution of Green Plants (Botany 61-62)
Box
Examination and sketches
19435-1936
Box 4 : 7
Typed Notes, lecture outline
1949-1950
Box 4 : 8
Typed Notes, copied by T. Delevoryas (Part 1a, Thallophyta, p. 1-124)
1949-1950
Box 4: 9
Typed notes (Part 1B, Thallophyta, p. 125-247)
1949-1950
Box 4: 10
Typed notes (Part 2A, Bryophyta and Pteridophyta, p. 248-370)
1949-1950
Box 4: 11
Typed notes (Part 2B, Bryophyta and Pteridophyta, p. 371-462)
1949-1950
Box 4: 12
Typed notes (Part 3A, Spermatophyta, p. 463-616)
1949-1950
Box 4: 13
Evolution of Green (Chlorophyllous) Plants: mimeographed lecture outlines with drawings copied by Walter A. Hodge and Lester Peterso (2 vols.)
1935-1936
Box 5: 1-2
Evolution of Green Plants (Botany 61-62): Typed Notes (Spermatophyta Angiospermae and conclusion, Part 3b p. 617-723)
1949-1950
Box 6: 1
Honors Course
1933-1934
Box 6: 2
Introductory Botany
Box
Part 1 (2 copies)
1925
Box 6: 3
Part 2
1926
Box 6 : 4
Torrey’s questions on text, lab sheets, exam, Herbarium instructions
1925
Box 6: 5
Class notes by Sarah T. Plantinga, with copies of Torrey drawings
1925
Box 6: 6
Botany 1
1934-1936
Box 6: 7
Instructor’s outline for general Botany (donated By Walter H. Hodge, lab assistant and graduate student
1934-1936
Box 6: 8
Lecture outline, exams, class notes by Ruth Beebe
1946 Spring
Box 6a: 1-3
Lecture outline for Botany 1
1946 Fall
Box 6a: 4
Class notes by T. Delevoryas
1946 Fall
Box 6a: 5-6
Materials from George B. Goddard
1950
Box 6a: 7
“A List of Reference Readings” [Guides to Knowledge and the Spiritual Life]
1932
Box 6a: 8
Systematic Botany of The Higher Plants (2 vols.)
1925
Box 7: 1-2
Honors Course in General Philosophy
1934-1935
Box 7: 3
Books
Box
Introductory Botany
1922
Box 9: v. 1
Evolution of Green Plants
1936
Box 9: v. 2-3
Series 5. Drawings
ca.1920-1950
2 linear feet
Drawings
ca.1920-1950
Box 8
Drawings
ca.1920-1950
Box 10: 1-10
Prints (framed): scenes of France, willed by RET to Lillian Politella
undated
Box 12: 1-2
Administrative information
Provenance

Acquired through contributions of former students and other associates between 1973 and 1983, with additional letters and photographs acquired from former student Don Smith from 1986 to 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by Guy A. McLain, Jr., 1983.

Related Material

For materials related to this collection, see RG 1/207. Oral history interviews documenting the history of the University from the following individuals: Charles P. Alexander, Ellsworth Barnard, Mary Taylor Barnard, Maxwell Goldberg, Lawrence Jones, Fred McLaughlin, Margarita Hopkins Rand, Alvan S. Ryan, H. Leland Varley, Dennis Crowley, John Lederle, and George Marston.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Ray Ethan Torrey Papers (FS 121). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Subjects

  • Botany--Study and teaching
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Botany Department

Contributors

  • Torrey, Ray Ethan, 1887-

Types of material

  • Pen and ink drawings
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