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Charles C. Deam papers, 1881-1983, bulk 1900-1953

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research.

Advance notice is required.

Usage Restrictions
Copyright interests for this collection have not been transferred to the Trustees of Indiana University. For more information, contact the Indiana University Archivist.
Preferred Citation
[Item], Charles C. Deam papers, Collection C22, Office of University Archives and Records Management, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Processing Information
Processed by Kathryn Fuller; revised by Dina Kellams and Rebecca Smith

Completed in 2006.

Biographical Note
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 Indiana (1940).

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 Hoosier Botanist. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1987.
  • Weatherwax, Paul. "Charles C. Deam: Hoosier Botanist." Indiana Magazine of History 67 (1971): 197-267.