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Collection FRG - George Forrest Collection

Identity area

Reference code



George Forrest Collection


  • 1902 - (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

7 metres - extensive Collection: Field Notes; Plant lists; Herbarium Samples; Books; Articles; News cuttings; Photographs; Prints; Expedition Correspondence; Professional Correspondence; Personal correspondence, ephemera & personal documents; Maps.

Context area

Name of creator

Forrest, George (1873-1932)

Biographical history

Born in Falkirk in 1873, George Forrest became one of Scotland's most prolific plant collectors, conducting seven expeditions in Yunnan province, S.W. China between 1904 and his death there in 1932.

Archival history

This is an artificial collection put together by library, archives and RBGE staff throughout the 20th century - i.e. it was not put together by George Forrest himself. Rather it contains correspondence, papers, photographs, etc sent by Forrest to various correspondence, articles about Forrest, items donated by his family or associates and trather than store them as individual collections put together by these bodies, it was thought best to store them together as the Forrest collection, and as Sir William Wright Smith said, it is without exaggeration truly a 'tremendous affair'.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Transferred from Bayley Balfour and Wright Smith collections and donated by individual such as J.C. Williams and Forrest's family. Also includes articles about Forrest and items related to him.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

FRG/1 Correspondence
• 1: Box of Forrest correspondence, 1903-08 (Clementina, I.B. Balfour, Bulley,
Family), Forrest related correspondence, copies of his birth and marriage
certificates, transcripts of his diary 1904-05, ‘Account of a Journey on the
Upper Salwin, October to December 1905’, copy of the article ‘Land of the
Crossbow, March 9th 1906’ from the National Geographic Magazine,
(carbon copy, original version is in the red notebook under letter 3, filed in
the same box)
• 2: Box of Forrest correspondence, 1909-1911 – correspondence regarding
his Yunnan expedition in 1910, and with I.B. Balfour and correspondence
relating to Forrest.
• 3a: Box of Forrest correspondence with J.C. Williams 1911-1912, regarding
his third expedition (February 1912-March 1915)
• 3b: Box of Forrest correspondence with J.C. Williams and I.B. Balfour, 1913-
14 regarding his third expedition (February 1912- March 1915)
• 3c: Box of Forrest correspondence from 1915 regarding his third expedition
(February 1912- March 1915)
• 4a: Box of Forrest correspondence from 1917-1920 regarding his fourth
expedition (February 1917-March 1920)
• 4b: Box of Forrest correspondence, including I.B. Balfour and William Wright
Smith, 1916-1920, regarding his fourth expedition (February 1917-March
• 5: Box of Forrest correspondence from June 1920-April 1923 regarding his
fifth expedition (January 1921-March 1923)
• 6: Box of Forrest correspondence from 1922-28
• 7: Box of Forrest correspondence from 1929-1932, plus obituaries, etc.
FRG/2 Photographs
FRG/2/1 Prints:
• File of photographs marked ‘Forrest, Collectors, Human, etc.’
• File of photographs marked ‘Buildings, Temple, Graves, Towns, etc.’
• File of photographs marked ‘Mountain, Water, Bridge’
• File of photographs marked ‘Plants A-L’
• File of photographs marked ‘Plants M-Prim-’
• File of photographs marked ‘Plants Py-Z and misc.’
FRG/2/2 Glass Plate Negative Collection
FRG/3 Published work
• copy of the article ‘Land of the Crossbow’, from the National Geographic
FRG/4 Field Books
FRG/4/1 Unpublished Field Books:
• George Forrest’s field books – 27 original field books dating from 1904 to
FRG/4/2 Published Field Books:
FRG/5 RBGE’s Notes relating to Forrest’s plants
• 16 folders in 15 boxes of RBGE’s plant collection notes arranged
alphabetically by genus
• Three boxes of Rhododendron notes written and sent by Isaac Bayley
Balfour and William Wright Smith c.1919,1921 and 1922 and Primula lists
c.1914,1921 and 1922
FRG/6 Forrest’s lecture notes
• Box of lecture notes and lists of slides
• Box containing photo related lists, 1913-24 and lecture notes
FRG/7 Forrest’s collection of papers (unsorted at present)
FRG/8 maps
• Various maps of Forrest’s Botanical expeditions
• File containing maps from 1918-1922, some annotated and some hand
FRG/9 copies of books / publications belonging to Forrest – includes field books by other
FRG/10 RBGE Forrest ephemera – post 1932 (centenaries, press reports, exhibition materials, similar camera)
• Box containing Cowan’s research from 1934 and information regarding
Forrest Centenary in 1973
• Various articles referring to Forrest
• Various newspaper articles which mention George Forrest
• Camera similar to one used by Forrest

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access


Conditions governing reproduction

with permission from RBGE

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Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Notes area


Envelope containing copies of Forrest correspondence and plant lists from the Rothschild Archive. Not to be copied without permission of the Rothschild Archive

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Description control area

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Dates of creation revision deletion




Accession area