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University of Vermont Museums

Identifier: RG-036

Scope and Content Note

The Museums record group documents the Pringle Herbarium and its founder, Cyrus Pringle; the Robert Hull Fleming Museum of Art; the Perkins Museum of Geology; and the Physics Historical Museum. The record group consists primarily of the records of the Pringle Herbarium's staff and Fleming Museum's exhibits. Note that box 19 does not exist.

Cyrus Pringle (founder of the herbarium) is represented via correspondence with others botanists, field notes, and a manuscript of his trips to Mexico. The notebooks and field notes of botanical trips of Frank Seymour, curator of the herbarium from 1967 to 1973 are also present.

Material related to the Perkins Museum of Geology consists mainly of museum catalogues and programs.

A small amount of information is available regarding the University's Physics Museum, which houses historic scientific instruments including a telescope.

The Fleming Museum portion mainly contains documents regarding museum exhibitions from 1931 to 2005. Planned, cancelled, and completed exhibitions are represented. Material types present include lists of exhibited material, correspondence, drafts, internal communications, notes, memos, plans, event and exhibition agreements, newspaper clippings, material shipping information, documentation of the physical condition of exhibited items, various image formats, exhibit labels, insurance information, research materials, financial records of pieces sold, and publications including catalogs, press releases, posters, flyers, mailers, brochures, and other publicity materials. Images document the installation process, exhibit design, individual pieces, events, artists' portraits, and visitors' experiences. A small amount of information regarding the physical museum building is present. The exhibitions section is arranged by date of exhibition, not specifically by the dates of the material contained in the file.


  • 1836 - 2022


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Fleming Museum

The museum collections have their origins in the 1826 creation of the College of Natural History when faculty and friends of the University endeavored to collect a wide variety of specimens to support teaching. The anthropological, zoological, and geological material was first housed in the Old Mill building until expansion, including into the fine arts field, led to a move to Torrey Hall in 1862 where it was known as the Park Gallery of Art. Further expansion of the collections led to the construction of a new building, the Robert Hull Fleming Museum, which was completed in 1931. Funding was provided by his niece, Katharine Wolcott and James B. Wilbur. Since its opening, the museum has supported the university and local community through close ties to several academic disciplines and by providing with events for children, adult education, and a variety of special events throughout its long history.

The Museum has a substantial collection of art and artifacts, many of which are digitized on their web site,

Bibliography of Sources

Michael McQuillen "Robert Hull Fleming Museum" 1999 at

Perkins Museum of Geology

The George Henry Perkins Museum of Geology is named in honor of the UVM professor of natural history (1844-1933). Also the state entomologist and, later, state geologist, Perkins researched and published numerous articles on Vermont geology and archaeology.

The Museum has a substantial collection of minerals and geological specimens, many of which are digitized on their web site, They are also home to the fossil Charlotte Whale and other archaeological specimens.

Bibliography of Sources

Perkins Museum of Geology web page,

Seeley, Henry M., "Part II. The Geology of Vermont" The VERMONTER Magazine, Vol. VI February, 1901 No. 7, at

Pringle Herbarium

The Pringle Herbarium was established by Cyrus Guernsey Pringle (1838-1911), a renowned botanist and horticulturist. Pringle, who was born in East Charlotte, Vermont, entered the University of Vermont in 1859 but was forced to leave upon the death of his older brother, in order to help on the family farm. His knowledge of botany was essentially self-taught. He started collecting botanical specimens as a young man on his family farm. His research in hybrids of fruits and vegetables yielded many varieties that gained international recognition, notably for his high-yield and hardy potato varieties and grape hybrids.

In 1902, through the efforts of Dr. L. R. Jones, professor of botany at UVM, Pringle's herbarium was removed to Williams Science Hall at the University of Vermont, where the entire top floor was given over to him. Pringle served as curator from then until his death in 1911. In 1906, he was awarded the honorary degree of D.SC. from UVM in 1906.

Pringle is perhaps best known for his trips to Mexico from 1887 to 1911 to collect botanical specimens. [From the web site, "In 1885, through a combination of funding from Harvard University's Botanical Museum and Gray Herbarium, Pringle was hired to begin cataloging the plants of Mexico, because little botanical work had ever been done there. This work would continue over the next 26 years, years in which he ended up botanizing 21 of the 27 states of Mexico. On his trips to and from Mexico, Pringle always made a point to take different routes; he was thus able to further enrich his collections as he passed through a diversity of terrains in both the U.S. and Mexico."

By the time Pringle died in 1911, he had distributed to various herbaria (including his own), some 500,000 sheets of about 20,000 species. These include 29 genera new to science, 1,200 new species, 100 new varieties, and 4 new combinations, more than almost any other collector.

A member of the Society of Friends, Pringle was a conscientious objector: during the Civil War, he refused to pay for a substitute to take his place as a soldier. During his service, he was harshly treated for his refusal to perform military duties; he was finally released from duty on the request of President Lincoln. Pringle's Civil War Diaries have been published in part in the Atlantic Monthly, vol. III, no. 2 (February 1913).

There are also the records of Frank Seymour, curator of the herbarium from 1967-1973 He solidified the herbarium's twin specializations on tropical American and Vermont flora with extensive collections from across northern New England and Central America. Seymour was also instrumental in bringing the collection from its earlier disarray into a cohesive and integrated herbarium. In his time at Pringle Herbarium, he added 15,700 sheets


Brainerd, Ezra. Cyrus Guernsey Pringle. Published:[S.l. : s.n.] 1911. Notes: From Rhodora, journal of the New England Botanical Club, vol. 13, 1

Davis, Helen Burns, 1936. Life and Work of Cyrus Guernsey Pringle, Free Press Printing Co., Burlington, Vermont. USA. NOTE: This work also contains a complete transcript of all the known field notebooks of Pringle, from 1881 onward. [Transcribed online at]

Pringle, Cyrus. Civil war diary. [Wallingford, Pa., Pendle Hill] 1962. Notes: " the Atlantic monthly, vol. III, no. 2 (February 1913)... [under] title 'The United States versus Pringle'...Published in book form by Macmillan in 1918 [under title: The record of a Quaker conscience]"

The web site


28.1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Museums record group documents the Pringle Herbarium and its founder, Cyrus Pringle; the Robert Hull Fleming Museum of Art; the Perkins Museum of Geology; and the Physics Historical Museum. The record group consists primarily of the records of the Pringle Herbarium's staff and Fleming Museum's exhibits.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Guide to the University of Vermont Museums Records
2015 February
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Archives Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
802-656-4038 (Fax)