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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Institutional Records

A close up of the pietre dure table owned by James Arnold inlaid with semi-precious stone. It is a prized object in the archive collection. Larissa Glasser, 2018.
Tabletop inlaid with semi-precious stones.

Institutional Records document the routine activities of individual Arboretum departments and committees as well as specific projects, programs, and studies. The archives collects and maintains a range of materials for this purpose, including meeting minutes, annual reports, correspondence, photographs, data, and project records.

The archives holds more than 350 collections. Collection guides not found here may be available on site. Please contact us for more information.

35mm negatives (Series “L”) 1959-1970. This collection consists of 76, 35mm rolls of film; 3 field books; 2 copies of transcribed notes made from the field books; and 4 small booklets of prints. The negatives represent images taken between 1959 and 1970 most often onsite at the Arnold Arboretum by Heman Howard. Additionally, photographs include Case Estate (Weston, MA), Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Brooklyn, NY), and the Justin S. Morrill Homestead (Stafford, VT).
Archaeology Collection. In the early 1930s, Ernest J. Palmer, a plant collector and Arboretum staff member, collected stone artifacts from sites at the Arboretum. These artifacts, primarily projectile points, have been dated to the Middle Archaic (ca. 8,000–6,500 B.P.) through the Late Woodland (ca. 1,300–400 B.P.) eras. In addition to the artifacts themselves, this collection includes inventories, correspondence, maps, and reports.
Arnold Arboretum, Boston Parks Commission partnership, 1882- . The Arnold Arboretum and Boston Parks Commission records consist of correspondence between directors of the Arboretum and the chairmen of the Parks Commission regarding official responsibilities in administrating the partnership of shared responsibilities in the care and maintenance of the Arboretum.
Arnold Arboretum Committee records, 1982-1988. This collection consists of the records relating to the organization and activities of the Arboretum Committee, an independent, non-profit organization of community members who advocated and raised funds for the Park Rangers Program and other safety programs at the Arboretum.
Arnold Family collection consists primarily of secondary source information about the Arnold and Rotch families of New Bedford. Also included is an oil painting and a portrait as well as Pietre Dure table and correspondence between the administration of the Arnold Arboretum and various donors as well as with other Harvard entities dating from the 1950s-1990s.
Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection records, 1904- . This collection documents the history and maintenance of the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection. In April 1937, Isabel Anderson donated the majority of her late husband’s bonsai collection (30 plants) to the Arnold Arboretum, along with the funds necessary to build a shade house for their display. Following her death in 1949, the remaining plants were donated to the Arboretum.
Boston Park Rangers Program, 1981-1988. In 1981 the Massachusetts Association for Olmsted Parks, The National Association for Olmsted Parks, Friends of the Public Garden and Common, and the Arnold Arboretum collaborated to create the Boston Park Ranger Program which was based on the urban ranger program in New York City and operated seasonally from 1982 until 1988.
Bussey Brook Meadow collection, 1977- . The Bussey Brook Meadow Collection documents the management and use of the meadow, including Community Gardens (1979-1981), the work of the Arboretum Park Conservancy, a botanical survey, and interpretive signage. The collection also documents the maintenance of the meadow as an urban wild.
Bussey Institution records, 1872-2007. The Bussey Institution was created in 1870 through a bequest from Benjamin Bussey, which established an endowment at Harvard for an undergraduate school of agriculture and horticulture. This collection consists of correspondence, university reports about the institution, photographs of the buildings and grounds, articles about the institution, architectural plans and other materials.
Bussey Street Gates Project records, 1997-2003. This collection was created after the completion of the Bussey Street Gates project. The Bussey Street Gates project was a major gate restoration project undertaken by the Arboretum in 2002, affecting primarily the Bussey and Walter Street Gates. The collection is largely correspondence (letters, memoranda, and e-mails), submittals, plans, and contracts.
Children’s Education Programs – Community Science Connection, 1994-2000 contains institutional records, educational records, correspondence, and visual materials pertaining to and generated by the Community Science Connection (CSC), a children’s education program funded by The National Science Foundation (NSF).
Children’s Education Programs – Field Study Experiences, 1982- . In 1984, the Arnold Arboretum began offering educational programs focused on plant science to Boston area students for the purpose of improving science education in local schools. One of the initiatives designed and implemented by the education division was the Field Study Experience.
“The Controversy” records, 1945-1966. This collection contains records of the legal dispute between the Association for the Arnold Arboretum, Inc. and the President and Fellows of Harvard College that became widely known as “The Arnold Arboretum Controversy.” After a protracted legal battle the outcome was adjudicated by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1966.
Early Plant Accessions, 1872–1899. The Arnold Arboretum’s plant records system is the oldest continuously maintained system of its kind in North America. The initial system of recording plant accessions began in 1874 and was created by Jackson Thornton Dawson (1841-1916), the Arboretum’s first plant propagator.
Ektachrome transparencies (Series K), 1952-1970. Consists of 109, 5”x7” Kodak Ektachrome color transparencies made between 1950-1970 by Heman Howard. These transparencies of Arboretum plants and activities provided images for an exhibit that was displayed in illuminated wooden cases in the Hunnewell Building from 1955-1993.
Electric Trams records, 1979-1981. This collection documents the rise and fall of the electric tram system at the Arboretum. Acquired in 1980 as a gift from the St. Joe Lead Company, the trams carried visitors on thirty minute tours of the grounds. Unfortunately, the vehicles’ mechanical problems and insatiable hunger for expensive lead batteries brought an end to the program within one year.
Exhibits collection, 1954-2006. This collection was created by integrating several smaller collections dealing with exhibits at the Arnold Arboretum. Materials include pictures, negatives, articles, correspondence, notes, exhibit publicity, invoices, and videotapes. Some notable exhibits are Flowering Trees, Flora from Shakespeare, Bridge of Trees, and Museum in the Garden.
Flora of China Project records, 1953-1957. This collection was created by Arboretum directors and botanists during the course of the Flora of China project. It is composed primarily of correspondence and reports written by participating botanists. The goal of the project was to compile a comprehensive flora of Chinese plants. The date range covered by the materials is 1953-1957.
Group Photographs of Arboretum Staff, 1916- . This collection contains group photographs of Arboretum staff, in both formal and informal settings taken at various celebrations, special events, and field trips. Includes activities in which many staff participated and occasionally includes friends, family members, and volunteers.
Guidebook Photographs, 1980s-1990s. This collection consists of images intended for illustrative use in a guidebook project funded by The National Endowment for the Humanities. The photographs were produced in 1980s-1990s by Christopher Burnett, Albert W. Bussewitz, and Sheila Connor and published in A Reunion of Trees by Stephen A. Spongberg and New England Natives by Sheila Connor.
Harvard Forest collection, 1935-2007. The majority of the collection consists of records created by the Harvard Forest and deposited in the Arnold Arboretum’s archives for offsite storage of the material. In addition there are a limited number of publications, photographs, and digital images of the aftermath of Hurricane of 1938 at the Harvard Forest.
Hedge Collections records, 1950-1968. Donald Wyman (1904-1993), who served as the Arnold Arboretum’s horticulturalist, created the Arboretum’s first hedge demonstration plot. In the 1930s-1950s, he visited many agricultural experiment stations, arboreta, botanic gardens, private estates, and historic properties, photographing hedge collections. The collection consists of photographs, slides, color transparencies, inventories, planting lists, and maps.
Herbarium Mounting Records, 1964- . Consisting of notebooks kept by Herbarium staff, this collection documents plant specimens received and processed for deposit into either the Herbarium of the Arnold Arboretum or the Gray Herbarium located at the Harvard University Herbaria. Details include total number of specimens mounted on a particular date, their origin, and destination repository. This particular method of record keeping continues today.
Hurricane/Blizzard/Storm Damage, 1933- contains photos, slides, articles/clippings, correspondence, and damage reports documenting various severe weather phenomena that have affected the Arboretum. The date of the materials currently spans from 1933 – 2015 with the bulk of material pertaining to the Hurricane of 1938, Hurricanes Carol, Edna in 1954, Hurricane Gloria in 1985, and the Blizzard of 1997.
Institutional Master Plan collection, 1992-2010 documents the development of the Institutional Master Plan (IMP) a prerequisite in fulfilling the requirements of the Boston Redevelopment Authority in order to construct the Weld Hill Research Building on the Harvard owned Weld Hill parcel.
Intern and Apprentice Records, 1970- contains a variety of documents, including previous internship applications, photographs of interns, and administrative documentation pertaining to the Isabella Welles Hunnewell Internship Program, ranging in date from 1970 to 2004.
Lilac Sunday, 1936- . This collection contains photographs, 35mm negatives and slides, correspondence, memos, press releases, pamphlets, flyers, newspaper clippings, and notes on the Arnold Arboretum’s annual “Lilac Sunday” celebration. Publications include a self-guided lilac walk and a pamphlet providing an overview of lilac cultivation and history.
Manuscripts and Published Articles collection, 1882- . Collection consists of original manuscripts, published articles, and in-house publications about the Arnold Arboretum. The collection was begun in 1984 when the archive was established and the material is arranged in chronological order.
“Maudslay” the Moseley Estate (Newburyport, Massachusetts), 1906-1995. This collection consists of a series of 45 photographs dating from the first decade of the twentieth century that document the construction of the Moseley gardens. Sixteen of these images were used by Martha Brookes Brown Hutcheson (1871-1959) in The Spirit of the Garden.
Metasequoia glyptostroboides, 1940-2010. This collection details the rediscovery and cultivation of Metasequoia glyptostroboides, popularly known as the “dawn redwood.” Previously believed to have become extinct millions of years ago, its rediscovery as a “living fossil” in the Hupeh (Hubei) Province of China led to widespread cultivation in additional temperate areas of the world, including the United States, Europe, and New Zealand.
National Park Service cooperative agreement: Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation records, 1991-2001. In 1991, the Arnold Arboretum signed a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service to establish an entity that would allow collaboration on a range of programs and services, including historic landscape preservation. The Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation grew out of this joint venture.
Office of the Horticulturist records, 1938-1996. The bulk of the collection consists of the records of Donald Wyman (1904-1993) and Gary Koller (1945-), with some papers from Gordon P. DeWolf, Jr. (1927-) and Robert S. Hebb (1942-). This collection encompasses six decades of Arboretum work with individual plant groups.
Pennsylvania Chestnut Tree Blight Commission Photographs collection, 1913. This collection documents the decimation of American chestnut trees in Pennsylvania during the early 1900s. Image were taken in 1912 and 1913 by the Pennsylvania Chestnut Tree Blight Commission, and were donated to the Arnold Arboretum by the Commission’s chairman (and cousin of Charles Sprague Sargent), Winthrop Sargent.
Plant Sale and Giveaway records, 1973, 1978 – .The Arnold Arboretum giveaway of woody plants began as a member benefit in 1970 and was held at Arboretum’s Case Estates property in Weston. Initially the plant offerings consisted of surplus material. This collection consists of materials related to the planning and execution of the Arboretum Plant Sale and Giveaway to Members during the thirty-four years of its existence.
Planting Lists, 1932- . This collection, originally amassed by the Arnold Arboretum’s Living Collections Department, contains planting lists, plant condition checks, memoranda, maps, Planting Bulletins, and other materials related to the Arboretum’s bi-annual planting seasons.
Public Relations collection, 1973- . This collection documents the activities of the Public Programs department, especially Kate Nixon, Public Relations Coordinator, 1981-1986 and her successor, Jo Proctor, Public Affairs Officer, 1986-1989. Included are correspondence, notes, marketing materials, budgets, committee records, and press releases. Items date 1973-2005, but the majority of materials were created 1983-1989.
Science in the Pleasure Ground, exhibit, 1990- opened on October 18, 1996 in celebration of the Arnold Arboretum’s 125th Anniversary. A product of 6 years of planning, the exhibit highlighted the cultural history of the Arboretum, the design of the landscape, plant collecting expeditions, forest conservation, American horticulture, and the many uses of wood.
Soil Survey records, 1978-1984. The soil surveys in this collection were completed by the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service between 1978 and 1984. Included is a detailed soil survey of the Arnold Arboretum of Jamaica Plain, Suffolk County, Massachusetts by Thomas A. Peragallo as well as surveys for Bristol and Essex counties.
South Street Footpath Construction Project records, 1998-2002. The Blackwell Path, known as the South Street Tract Footpath before its dedication in 2002, provides pedestrian access between the gates on South and Washington Streets. This collection documents the construction of the path and the installation of the gates through correspondence, notes, drawings, and images as compiled by Laura Tenny Brogna.
Special Events records, 1962- includes material related to Arbor Day celebrations and open houses held at the Arboretum and the Harvard University Herbaria and includes correspondence, flyers, photographs, negatives, memos, press releases and articles.
Website records, 1995-2008. The Arnold Arboretum website has undergone numerous revisions since its creation, including initiatives to add other projects to the website. This collection contains statistics, reports, and e-mails about Arnold Arboretum websites, as well as many printouts of actual webpages as they appeared at different times.
“Woods of the United States” Exhibit records, 1902-1938. The collection consists of correspondence, photographs, display labels, and publications pertaining to the exhibit that was on display from 1902 until 1938 in the Arboretum’s Hunnewell Building. The collection also contains information on the American Museum of Natural History’s Jesup Collection of American Woods upon which the Arboretum’s exhibit was based.