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Charles C. Deam papers, 1881-1983, bulk 1900-1953
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[Item], Charles C. Deam papers, Collection C22, Office of University Archives and
Records Management, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Processed by Kathryn Fuller; revised by Dina Kellams and Rebecca Smith
Completed in 2006.
Charles C. Deam was a taxonomic botanist known for his work on plants, trees,
flowers, and shrubs of Indiana. He was born on August 30, 1865 on a farm in Wells
County, Indiana. He graduated from Bluffton High School in 1884, taught school for a
year, and attended DePauw University between 1885 and 1887. Forced to drop out due to
a lack of funds, Deam went on to work at odd jobs, including that of drug store
apprentice. In 1891 he started a drug store business which he operated on his own
until he sold a part interest to J. Spivey in 1910. At the time of his death in 1953,
he still held a one third interest in the business.
Deam began collecting plants sometime in the 1890s when, as he frequently recounted,
his doctor ordered long walks to counteract ill effects of his job. From then on he
devoted most of his time to botanical interests. At first he considered the whole
world his subject and made some trips to Central America at the turn of the century
to collect plants there. Soon after, though, he decided to concentrate on Indiana and
by the end of his career claimed that he had been in and collected plants from every
township of the state. By the time he gave his herbarium to Indiana University it
contained at least 63,000 specimens, some of which he was first to identify. Although
he never earned a degree in botany, he did receive honorary degrees from Wabash
College, DePauw University, and Indiana University.
Deam held government positions related to his interests: State Forester, 1909-1913;
Acting State Forester, 1917-1918; State Forester, 1919 to 1928; and State Forestry
Researcher, 1928-1940. In 1921, he wrote and pushed through House Bill 77 which
protected woodlands and reduced the taxes on them.
Deam published many articles and four books, each in several editions: Trees of
Indiana (1912); Shrubs of Indiana (1924); Grasses of Indiana (1929); and Flora of
In 1893, Deam married Stella Mullin (1870-1953). She taught school at that time and
later became active in community and women's groups in Bluffton. They had two
children: Robert Mullin Deam (1896-1898) and Roberta Deam Ortenburger (1900-1961).
For more information on Charles Deam, consult the following:
- Kriebel, Robert.
Plain Ol' Charlies Deam: Pioneer
West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press,
- Weatherwax, Paul.
"Charles C. Deam: Hoosier
Indiana Magazine of History 67 (1971):