Guide to the Wolfgang Wolf Papers, RG 128

Listed by: Peter H. Branum
Date: 2-28-97
Revised by: Dieter C. Ullrich
Date: 10-6-03

Dates:  1920-1950

Collection size: 2 cubic feet

History: Wolfgang Wolf  [photo here] was one of the more respected botanists of the first half of the Twentieth Century. Very little is known of Wolf s life before his arrival in of Saint Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama. He was born in Regensburg, Germany in 1872 and came to America in 1897. He took preliminary steps toward the monastic life in 1898 and made his final vows as a lay brother of the Order of Saint Benedict in 1901. Brother Wolfgang served as the Abbey tailor for several years.

He became intensely interested in the native plants of Cullman County and Alabama and undertook to learn botany from all sources available to him. He collected an enormous number of plant specimens and a modest library for identifying them. These botanical specimens currently form a part of the Auburn University Herbarium, housed in Funchess Hall. Wolf studied botany with Rev. Michael Morgan, O.S.B., at Saint Bernard. He also took courses by correspondence from The Catholic University of America and carried on a lively professional correspondence with Dr. Roland Harper, botanist from the University of Alabama.

As a field researcher and as a writer, Wolf was prolific. He discovered several new plant species that were native to Alabama. His discoveries were published in some important journals of the field. The first new species he named was Talinum mengtau, published in The American Midland Naturalist, vol. 6, no. 8, March, 1920. The same journal published his discovery of Talinum alachianum, in vol. 22, no. 2, September, 1939. Wolf became a recognized authority on the genus Erythronium. His field work showed that Alabama was host to some species not mentioned in the textbooks. In 1941, two new species first identified by Wolf, Erthhronium harperi and E. rostratu were published in Castenea: The Journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Club, vol. 6, no. 2, February, 1941.

Wolf also discovered two hybrid oaks, which he named Quercus x benardiensis and Q. x capesii. The former was published in Torreya, vol. 8, no. 72, August, 1918 and the latter in Castene , vol. 10, no. 3, September, 1945. During his career Brother Wolfgang Wolf established an international reputation as a leading botanist. He was regularly consulted by such institutions and agencies as The New York Botanical Gardens, The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, The Smithsonian Institution, The United States Department of Agriculture, The Field Museum of Natural History, The Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia, The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, as well as the botany departments of the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University and Duke University.

In poor health for the last several years of his life, Brother Wolfgang did little field work, but continued to write. He left several unpublished botanical studies when he died on September 22, 1950.

Scope/Content:  These papers are the creation of Brother Wolfgang Wolf and represent more than fifty years of botanical research and collection. Organized into 5 Series:  1. Scientific Papers;  2. Plant Specimens;  3. Correspondence;  4. Ecclesiastical papers;  5. Photographs and Drawings.


SERIES 1:  SCIENTIFIC  PAPERS:  class notes in botany, genetics, geology and other fields of science. Also voluminous field notes, scholarly articles by Wolf and others, and research data for Rev. Michael Morgan's dissertation on Tribolium casteneum.

Accession 97-012, Box 1
  1. Alabama Plants
  2. Algae
  3. Anatomy notes
  4. Anatomical study of the Dogfish
  5. Asiminia
  6. Azaleas
  7. Biology and ecology notebooks
  8. Botanical reprints
  9. Bryophyta
  10. Cytology notes
  11. Desmodium
  12. Drawings of plants
  13. Economic Botany
  14. Entomology
  15. Epistasis
  16. "Erythronium, A Neglected Genus in Alabama," W. Wolf
  17. Erythronium
  18. Ferns, notes and drawings
  19. "Flora of Cullman County," M. Morgan
  20. Flora of St. Bernard
  21. Harper's Cullman County Field Notes, 1927
  22. Fungi, notes on monocot and dicot
  23. Genetics
  24. Genetics/ Mendelism
  25. Genetics correspondence course, notes and drawings
  26. Geology of Alabama
  27. Geological maps
Box 2
  1. Grass-like plants, key
  2. Lespedeza nuttallii
  3. Miscellaneous
  4. Morphology
  5. Mycology notes, 1939
  6. Oenothera
  7. Photographs (see Series 5 below)
  8. Plants Native to Alabama
  9. Quercus
  10. Shrubs of Alabama
  11. Spore notes
  12. Trees of Alabama
  13. Talinum [ notes and essays ]
  14. [ dissertation on ] Tribolium casteneum
  15. [ research data for ] Tribolium dissertation
  16. Tribolium notes ( reprints )
  17. Tribolium notes ( reprints )


Accession 97-012, Box 2
  1. Plant Specimens

SERIES 3:  CORRESPONDENCE:  Professional and personal.

Accession 97-012, Box 2
  1. Alexander, E.J. --Ashe, W.W.
  2. Barnhart, J.H.--Bede, P.
  3. Baldwin, J.T.--Hitchcock
  4. Harper, Roland
  5. Just, Theodore
  6. Knowlton, C.H.--O'Neill, Hugh
  7. Morgan, Michael
  8. Nieuwland, J.A.
  9. Palmer, E.J.--Ross, B.B.
  10. Sargent, L.J.--Schmidt, Elmer
  11. Sharp, A.J.--Wilcox, E.M.


Accession 97-012, Box 2
  1. Baptismal records
  2. First Communion records
  3. Marriage records
  4. Theological essays
  5. Eulogy on Wolfgang Wolf, by R.Harper


Accession 97-012, Box 2
        7.  Oversized Photographs of Plants
      35.  Photograph/negative of Brother Wolfgang Wolf

    Accession 98-045 [housed with Accession 97-012, Box 2]

    1. 15 Color Drawings
    2. 21 Color Drawings
    3. 20 Color Drawings
    4. 6 Color Drawings
    5. 2 Color Drawings

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