Aaron Young papers, [ca. 1839-1894]


Date: Circa 1839-1894 | Size: 0.5 Linear feet, Ca. 350 items


This is primarily a collection of letters, with some additional documents, concerning Young's interest in botany, geology, mineralogy, and natural history. There is information about Bowdoin College, where he studied under Parker Cleaveland. There is also much on the natural history of Maine, where he was the State Botanist in 1847-1849, and also on the Bangor Natural History Society. There are materials on Brazil in relation to Young's service there as the U.S. consul to Rio Grande do Sul from 1863 to 1873. There are also letters from his brother, John C. Young, and his sister, Sarah Augusta Young.

Background note

Aaron Young, Jr., was born on December 19, 1819, to Aaron Young, Sr., and Mary Young in Wiscasset, Maine. At the age of ten, an illness rendered him noticeably deaf, but still attended Gorham Academy and Bowdoin College to study botany and natural history. He also attended Bowdoin Medical School from 1840 to 1841 for letters of proficiency before moving to Philadelphia to briefly attend Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and also seek a cure for his deafness; there was none, and he did not graduate from Jefferson Medical College. While at Bowdoin, Young formed a mentorship with chemical professor Parker Cleaveland.

Upon returning to Maine, Young became an apothecary while still studying botany. He was appointed the State Botanist of Maine in 1848 and spent the next two years writing Flora of Maine. Part of this writing process was leading one of the first surveys of Mount Katahdin. Young was released from his position as State Botanist due to the expense of publishing Flora of Maine. The remainder of his career was spent publishing, practicing as an ear surgeon, and maintaining a wide correspondence with botanists in the United States and Europe, notably M.J. Berkeley and W.H. Harvey.

While considered a pioneer in afforestation and with a wide interest in seaweeds, fungi, mineralogy, and mining, Young's position as a Copperhead– a grassroots movement of Northerners who opposed war with the Confederacy and supported paying slaveholders for the loss of their enslaved peoples– during the Civil War rightfully undermined his position in Maine society. He fled the United States to live in New Brunswick and then Rio Grande do Sul, Brazill, as an American consul appointed by Maine senator Hannibal Hamlin in 1863. While in Brazil, Young wrote consular reports on the harbor, the channels, botany, public health, agriculture, epidemics, the people, and corresponded frequently with the Smithsonian Institution while sending back specimens.

In 1875, Young returned to Boston, where he became a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society and published The Effect of Alcohol on Inhabitants of the Tropicswhile experimenting with Henry Ingersoll Bowditch on oxygen gas. Young died on January 13, 1898, and never married.

Collection Information

Physical description

Ca. 350 items.


Purchased from Sessler (Swan, no. 868, item 152; $700.00) and accessioned, 01/21/1972 (1972 507ms).

Early American History Note

The Aaron Young Collection contains a series of letters that reflect Young's interest in the sciences and natural history. Most date to the mid- to late-century. Some of the later documents contain correspondence from Young relating to his time in Brazil as an American consul.

Indexing Terms

Corporate Name(s)

  • Bangor Natural History Society
  • Bowdoin College. Students


  • Albumen prints
  • Diplomatic Material
  • Educational Material

Geographic Name(s)

  • Brazil -- Politics and government -- 19th century.
  • Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) -- Politics and government -- 19th century.

Personal Name(s)

  • Adams, George N.
  • Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873
  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton, 1823-1887
  • Bartlett, John, 1820-1905
  • Blake, Charles M.
  • Bowditch, Henry I. (Henry Ingersoll), 1808-1892
  • Chute, Ariel P.
  • Cleaveland, Parker, 1780-1858
  • Emerson, John
  • Gray, Asa, 1810-1888
  • Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878
  • Holmes, Ezekiel, 1801-1865
  • Mead, S. B.
  • Thurber, George, 1821-1890
  • Torrey, John, 1796-1873
  • Warren, John
  • Young, Aaron,b. 1819.
  • Young, John C.
  • Young, Sarah Augusta


  • Americans Abroad
  • Botany.
  • Diplomatic History
  • Education
  • Geology.
  • International Travel
  • Mineralogy.
  • Natural history -- Maine.
  • Science and technology

Detailed Inventory

 Adams, George Newton
 Agassiz, Louis
  American Journal of Science
 Anhilala, Adams G.
 Appleton, N.D.
 Baird, Spencer F.
 Barrett, Moris
 Bartlett, John
 Berkeley, M. J. (Miles Joseph)
 Blake, Charles M.
 Blake, J.
 Bliss, S.S.
 Bowditch, Henry I.
 Brown, Amos
 Buchanan, A.E.
 Chute, Ariel P.
 Cleaveland, Parker
 Darby, J.
 Deane, H.M.
 Dix, J. H.
 Duren, E. F. (Elnathan Freeman)
 Emerson, George B.
 Finch, E. E.
 Gray, Asa
 Hale, Edward E. to Cowles
 Hamlin, E. L. (Elijah Livermore)
 Hamlin, Eliza
 Hamlin, Hannibal
 Hart, D.B.
 Harvey, Jacob
 Harvey, W. H. (William Henry)
 Henry, Joseph
 Holmes, Ezekiel
 Holton, I.F.
 Hyde, Lord Duse
 Irish, I. H.
 Jackson, C. J.
 Jefferson Medical College: Lecture Admission Tickets, Matriculation Ticket, Museum and Dispensary Ticket
 Johnson, A.
 Kent, Edward N.
 Langley, S. P. (Samuel Pierpont)
 McKean, D. M.
 McLellan, H. C.
 Massachusetts Medical Society
 Mead, S. B.
 Means, I. O.
 Mitchell, Alfred
 Mitchell, I. C.
 Mumoet, J. and Company
 P., John G.
 Peare, C.
 Perry, J. Frank
 Raynsfoot, Charles
 Reece, D. W.
 Rieter, P. B.
 Robie, Frederick
 Roosa, John
 Scammon, F.
 Seavey, Marcian
 Shumand, B. F.
 Sullivant, William S.
 Swallow, G. C. (George Clinton)
 Tacherson, Edward
 Thurber, George
 Torrey, John
 Tuckerman, Edward
 U.S.S. "Wasp": List of Officers
 Vaux, William S.
 Warren, John
 Washburn, Israel, Jr.
 Webster, J. N.
 Winlock, W.
 Woodward, W. Elliot (William Elliot)
 Young, Aaron, Jr. and Rio Grande de Sul
 Young, John C.
 Young, John C. and Sarah Augusta
 Young, Sarah Augusta
 Zantzinger, William