Skip to main content

Robert B. Gordon Papers

 Collection — Box: Boxes 1-108
Identifier: 004
This collection is divided into ten (10) series. Series 1: Personal Papers contains various bird-tracking notebooks and lists; bird club items; Boy Scout awards and certificates; family records and birth certificate; and miscellaneous memorabilia. Series 2: Correspondence contains personal as well as work-related and research correspondence. Series 3: Writings & Publications contains articles; dissertation; experiments/observations; keys; surveys; presentations; reports; reviews; and curriculum vitae. Series 4: Course Materials contains instructional materials such as lectures, notes, assignment and grade books for courses in botany, ecology, and other fields. Series 5: Research Materials contains notes; bibliographies; essays; reports; library records; scrapbooks; and other materials used in botanical and related research. Series 6: Reference Materials contains journals, bulletins, articles, and newsletters from various botanical, ornithological, and natural history institutions. Series 7: Photographs includes photographs of varying sizes taken by Gordon or friends. Photos are primarily of natural landmarks, flora, wildlife, people, and buildings. Scrapbooks related to Boy Scouts and Allegany School of Natural History are in this series. Also includes images of maps, charts, and presentations. Series 8: Slides and Slide Production and Viewing Equipment contains 35mm as well as both small and large glass plate slides; slide preparation equipment; and slide-viewing equipment. Series 9: Artifacts includes two metal etching blocks and Gordon's personal vasculum. Series 10: Specimens includes various botanical samples.


  • 1890-1980
  • Majority of material found in 1920-1970


Conditions Governing Access

Open to research except for: RESTRICTED--Student Gradebooks in Box 6, Folder 1.


108.00 Boxes : 16 Medium Clam Shell Boxes, 5 Audio Visual Boxes, 5 35 mm Slide Boxes, 5 oversize boxes, 1 Record Box, 74 Glass Slide Boxes

108 Boxes


Robert B. Gordon (1901-1981) was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. After a short career as an optician and optometrist, he returned to The Ohio State University and earned a Ph. D. in botany (1931). Gordon taught botany and environmental science at universities and nature centers for more than forty years. He taught courses in botany, plant ecology, and conservation at West Chester State College (1938-1964) and was appointed Head of its Science Department in 1944. This collection includes personal and professional correspondence, research and reference materials, maps, photographs, scrapbooks, glass slides, specimens, and related scientific equipment.  The extensive collections of photographs and glass slides total more than 6,000 items.

Arrangement Thematic and chronological and/or geographical. See individual series arrangement.

Biographical or Historical Information

Robert Benson Gordon was born on July 23, 1901 in Erie, Pennsylvania; he died on February 11, 1981 in West Chester, PA. Gordon attended secondary school in Southbridge, Massachusetts and then The Ohio State University, where he earned a B.S. in Applied Optics (1922), an M.S. in Botany (1928), and a Ph. D. in Botany (1931). Before returning to Ohio State for his graduate work, Gordon worked for two years (1922-24) as an optician and optometrist. In 1924, he began his teaching career. At Enslow Junior High School (1924-26) in Huntington, West Virginia, he taught general science and geography. He was an assistant (1926-30), instructor (1930-37), and assistant professor (1937-38) at The Ohio State University. Gordon taught primarily at West Chester State College, where he was appointed Instructor of Science (1938), Head of the Department of Science (1944), and Professor Emeritus of Science (1964). During his career, he taught courses in botany, plant ecology, and biological conservation. Gordon supplemented his college instruction with a series of assignments at natural centers, arboretums, and foundations in several states, including the Audubon Nature Center in Greenwich, Connecticut (1948-49), the New Jersey School of Conservation, Stokes State Forest (1951-52), the Longwood Foundation in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania (1968-69, 1971), and the Arboretum of the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania (1952-76). In 1930, Gordon began a long association (1930, 1932-40) with the Allegany School of Natural History located in New York State’s Allegany State Park. Gordon made significant contributions to the field of botany and plant ecology during his career. In 1966, the Ohio Biological Survey published Gordon’s large, eight-colored map entitled Natural Vegetation of Ohio at the Time of the Earliest Land Surveys. This monumental undertaking was the first of its kind completed for any state and was followed in 1969 by an accompanying bulletin entitled The Natural Vegetation of Ohio in Pioneer Days. Gordon also produced vegetation survey maps of Indiana (1936), Allegany State Park (1937), and Cattaraugus County, New York (1940). In 1973, West Chester State College paid tribute to Gordon by designating a 67-acre woodland plot for conservation. The area was named the Robert B. Gordon Natural Area for Environmental Studies. Reference: Stuckey, Ronald L. “Robert Benson Gordon.” Taxon 30.4 (Nov. 1981): 874-75.

Processing Information

No original order; series assigned. Collecton processed by Emily Bergen, Michelle Fitch, and Ron McColl.
Robert B. Gordon Papers
Ron McColl
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the West Chester University Archives Repository