Beattie, R. Kent (Rolla Kent), 1875-

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A forest pathologist for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) from 1912-1945, Beattie (1875-1960) is notable for his studies of Northwest flora and chestnut blight. He spent three years in Asia for the USDA's Division of Forest Pathology surveying chestnut trees and related plants and gathering seeds to introduce disease-resitant strains to the United States.

From the description of Rolla Kent Beattie photograph collection 1927-1949. (National Agricultural Library). WorldCat record id: 502451892

American Botanist.

From the description of Papers, 1890-1956. (Washington State University). WorldCat record id: 29852950

Rolla Kent Beattie (1875-1960), botanist and plant pathologist, was born in Ashland, Ohio. Beattie received his A.B. degree from Cotner University in 1895, and his B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Nebraska in 1896 and 1898, respectively. While at Nebraska, Beattie came under the influence of Charles Edwin Bessey, and remained a disciple of the Besseyan school of botany throughout his career. Beattie taught high school in Colorado and Wyoming before becoming an instructor of botany at Washington State College in 1899. At Washington State he collaborated with Charles Vancouver Piper on researching the flora of Washington, Idaho, and the Northwest coast. In 1903 Beattie succeeded Piper as department head and botanist at the College's Agricultural Experiment Station. Beattie began his studies on plant diseases while at Washington State. His studies eventually led to his working intermittently for the Federal Horticultural Board and the Bureau of Plant Industry, United States Department of Agriculture. While working for these federal agencies, Beattie helped establish inspection procedures for plants and undertook the task of solving the chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease. Beattie retired in 1945 and began a study of David Douglas, pioneer plant explorer in the Pacific Northwest. Ill health prevented Beattie from completing his task.

Smithsonian Institution Archives Field Book Project: Person : Description : rid_150_pid_EACP147

Rolla Kent Beattie was born in Ohio in 1875. He began his botanical career as a student of Charles Bessey at the University of Nebraska. He was an Instructor, then Professor of Botany, at Washington State University from 1899 to 1912, after which he joined the United States Department of Agriculture research staff at Washington, D. C. and remained there as a forest pathologist until retirement in 1946. During his retirement, he traveled extensively and began again the examinations of Northwest Flora which he had largely abandoned in 1912.

In his earlier years, Beattie’s position was mainly that of a collaborator of the more illustrious Charles Vancouver Piper. The work of the two tended to become so intermingled that the respective contributions could not be discerned. However, Beattie’s contribution appears to have been his knowledge of herbaria and literature resources, while Piper had a greater familiarity with field botany and theory. In later years, as Beattie began to see himself as Piper’s successor, his approach continued to follow the line of herbarium and library research. In fact, he took up the line suggested by the "American Rule" school to a much greater degree than had Piper. During this time Beattie amassed a vast compilation of notes on the development of Northwest botany, in which he examined virtually every treatment of all Northwest species from the initial "discovery," through any and all revisions. He also collected much biographical material relative to the various botanists concerned with Northwest Flora.

Beattie spent most of his retirement years collecting this material. His death in 1960 in Bethesda, Maryland followed four years of failing health.

From the guide to the Rolla Kent Beattie Papers, 1899-1956, (Washington State University Libraries Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Rolla Kent Beattie Papers, 1899-1956 Washington State University Libraries: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
referencedIn Charles Vancouver Piper Papers, 1888-1926 Washington State University Libraries: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
creatorOf Piper, Charles V. (Charles Vancouver), 1867-1926. Papers, 1888-1926. Washington State University, Holland and Terrell Libraries
creatorOf Beattie, R. Kent (Rolla Kent), b. 1875. Papers, 1890-1956. Washington State University, Holland and Terrell Libraries
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Wilhelm Nikolaus Suksdorf Papers, 1867-1935 Washington State University Libraries: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
creatorOf Beattie, R. Kent (Rolla Kent), b. 1875. Rolla Kent Beattie photograph collection 1927-1949. National Agricultural Library, NAL
referencedIn Harold St. John Papers, 1912-1957 Washington State University Libraries: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
creatorOf St. John, Harold, 1892-. Papers, 1912-1957. Washington State University, Holland and Terrell Libraries
creatorOf Suksdorf, Wilhelm, 1850-1932. Papers, 1867-1935. Washington State University, Holland and Terrell Libraries
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Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
Northwest, Pacific
Subject
Science
Botany--Research--Northwest, Pacific
Cultural landscapes--Photographs
Photographers
Botanists--United States--Correspondence
Botanists--Correspondence
Washington (State)
Botany--Research
Occupation
Botanists
Function

Person

Birth 1875

Death 1960

English

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