The Archive Collection is the Arnold Arboretum’s repository of staff member’s personal papers and departmental records of the institution. There are over 350 individual collections in the archives. You will discover guides to some of the most requested ones in the sections below.
These guides document the work and research of Arboretum staff members. It includes papers of our directors, propagators, plant explorers, and researchers.
These finding aids document the activities in the departments of the Arboretum.
William (Ned) Friedman 2011-present
Robert E. Cook 1989-2009
Robert E. Cook (1946- ) received his Ph.D. from Yale University and led the institution during times of great transition and progress. Milestones included construction of our state-of-the-art Weld Hill facility, digitization of our visual archives, compilation of our Landscape Management Plan, and visitor engagement. Bob was also recipient of numerous National Science Foundation grants and helped pave the way for Arnold Arboretum and its supporters in the 21st century.
Peter Shaw Ashton 1978-1987
Peter Shaw Ashton (1934- ) was educated at Cambridge University, receiving a B.A., M.A. in 1956, and in 1962 a Ph.D. in botany. As a scientific researcher, Dr. Ashton was actively engaged in field research and envisioned the Arboretum playing a major role in research into techniques to save endangered plant species.
Richard A. Howard 1954-1978
Richard A. Howard (1917-2003) was a prolific researcher, photographer, and writer. As director during a turbulent era, Howard built a new institutional order to ensure the Arboretum’s botanical and horticultural future.
Karl Sax 1947-1954
Karl Sax (1892-1973) served as the third director of the Arnold Arboretum. Both a research scientist and an administrator, Dr. Sax had the challenging responsibility of leading the Arboretum through a difficult transitional period.
Elmer Drew Merrill 1935-1946
E.D. Merrill (1876-1956) served as administrator of botanical collections at Harvard University from 1935-1946, director of the Arboretum beginning in 1936, and emeritus professor until 1956. He was a major contributor to the field of botany, described approximately three thousand new species from eastern Asia, and authored nearly 500 publications.
Oakes Ames 1927-1935
Oakes Ames (1874-1950), an 1898 Harvard graduate and master’s degree recipient, had a distinguished career as a Professor of Botany at Harvard University and served as supervisor of the Arnold Arboretum from 1927-1935.
Charles Sprague Sargent 1872-1927
Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927) was the first director of the Arnold Arboretum, and served the institution for over 54 years. Born to a prominent Boston merchant family, his unique vision, horticultural knowledge, publications, commitment to education, and tenacity led to the creation of the first public arboretum in North America, along with its library, herbarium, and prominence in the history of Boston.
This database is an index to Arboretum correspondence from the 1870s to 1975. Correspondence includes letters on plant identification, accessions, and taxonomy. There is an extensive collection of letters to and from our plant collectors in the field. In addition, it contains letters from individuals at peer organizations.
The Archive Collection stewards information about the history of the Arboretum. These profiles tell the story of notable people associated with the early history of the institution from 1872-1927.
The Archive Collection is also the repository of a small number of other horticultural and botanical collections. It includes the records of Harvard’s Atkins and Bussey Institutions. It houses the Chestnut Blight Commission reports. In addition, it is the repository of records of the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, the Horticultural Club of Boston, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and the International Lilac Society.
Please contact us. We are happy to assist you with navigating our holdings and guide you in accessing our collections.