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Charles Sprague Sargent’s collection of over six thousand volumes donated in 1893 to the library today forms the nucleus of a collection exceeding 100,000 volumes held at two locations: the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library in Jamaica Plain and the Library of the Arnold Arboretum at the Harvard University Botany Libraries in Cambridge.
At the Arboretum, the library acquires and preserves a body of literature and photographic images supporting the curation, documentation, and research of woody plants. The collection includes works on botany, horticulture, taxonomy, dendrology, plant exploration, monographs on plant families, and North Temperate Zone floras as well as a strong collection of works on the design, management, history, and preservation of landscapes.
The archives at the Arboretum contain the personal papers of the staff including field notes, travel records, and journals; the institutional records document administrative and departmental activities, committee work, and special projects. The correspondence files hold letters that were written and received by Arboretum staff members beginning in the 1880s. Images, dating from 1870 to the present, trace the evolution of the Arboretum’s landscape and record the development of taxa within the Arboretum’s living collection.
In Cambridge, as part of the Botany Libraries, the Library of the Arnold Arboretum specializes in the identification and classification of “old world” plants, with special emphasis on Southeast Asia, and includes systematic botany, floras, and poisonous plants. There are additional Arboretum archives held at the Botany Libraries.