Violetta White Delafield was born in Florence, Italy in 1875 and spent most of her childhood in southern France. Violetta was the child of ex-patriots who eventually moved back to the United States in the 1890s. As a young woman, Violetta took an interest in botany and became a member of the New York Botanical Garden in 1902. She shared this interest in the natural world with her husband, John Ross Delafield, who she married in 1904. Violetta lived at Montgomery Place with her husband and their children from 1922 until her death in 1949.


The rural Northeast is where Violetta would begin to collect various fungi specimens. In 1901-1902 Violetta published scholarly works on the mushroom specimens she collected. They appeared in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club and explored the families of Tylostomaceae and Nidulariaceae in North America. After her marriage in 1904, she suspended such contributions. As with most women in the sciences, her studies were viewed as "amateur." William J. Robbins describes her contributions to the field of botany in a letter written to her husband after her death:

Mrs. Delafield's activities in the New York Botanical Garden are especially noteworthy because they demonstrate how an amateur with the interest and ability can pursue research in science and make substantial contributions. Interest in accomplishing real scientific work by amateurs has long been a characteristic of the English. It has, unfortunately, been much less common in this country.

According to her husband's unpublished biography of her, Violetta continued to collect specimens at their various summer homes in Buck Hills Falls, Pennsylvania, the Catskills, New York and Litchfield, Connecticut. Each of the drawings in this collection include the location and date of the collected fungus. What remains unclear is how she collected the specimens, so we are left to imagine her process.