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Home / Frank N. Meyer (1875-1918)

Frank N. Meyer (1875-1918)

Frank N. Meyer (1875-1918)
In 1901, Frans Nicholas Meijer emigrated from the Netherlands to America where he became Frank Meyer. Almost immediately, Meyer went to work for the United States Department of Agriculture's Erwin F. Smith, known internationally for his groundbreaking work in bacteriology. In 1902, Meyer began working at USDA's Plant Introduction Station in Santa Ana, California.

The period from 1905 to 1908 marked the beginning of Meyer's expeditions to Asia, where he collected plants in China, Russia, and Japan, as well as other countries. During his second expedition from 1909 to 1912, he collected in Europe, Russia, and in China. From 1913 to 1915, he explored and collected plants in Russia and China. Meyer's fourth and final expedition took place from 1916 to 1918. The purpose of this journey is stated in the accompanying typescript, dated July 25, 1916.

Meyer died an untimely death in June of 1918. A passenger on the Feng Yang Maru Japanese riverboat, destined for Shanghai, he fell overboard into the Yangtze River. His body was recovered, but the circumstances of his death will always remain a mystery and source of speculation. Honored the world over for his contributions as a plant explorer, Frank Meyer's work touches us all everyday. From apricots to wild pears, his introductions number over 2,500.


Meyer, Frank Nicholas and David Fairchild.
South China explorations: typescript, July 25, 1916-September 21, 1918.
NAL Call Number: aSB108.C6 M48

Cunningham, Isabel Shipley.
Frank N. Meyer, plant hunter in Asia.
Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1984.
NAL Call Number: SB63.M55 C86 1984

Frank N. Meyer
Frank N. Meyer
Typescript of South China Explorations

The 233 page typescript includes correspondance between Meyer and his superior, Fairchild, regarding Meyer's exploration trip to South China from 1916-1918. These letters allow us to glimpse a part of Meyer's personality - his excitement discovering plants as well as his lonliness in the foreign wilderness. The typescript also contains small black and white photographs of plants found in China, as well as personal letters and accounts of Meyer's death during the expedition.

Proposal | Typescript Images | Quotes | Typescript PDF


Special Collections of the National Agricultural Library (NAL) acquires, arranges, describes, preserves and makes available rare materials significant to the history of agriculture. Materials are obtained through donation or active collection in accordance with the established Special Collections collection development policy. Special Collections staff organize and describe materials according to archival principles and create descriptions and indexes to enhance access. Staff do not edit or otherwise modify the original materials. The views expressed in the collections do not necessarily reflect the policies of the National Agricultural Library or the United States Department of Agriculture.