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Pascal Pompey Pirone

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Records of the Laboratory (RG5)
23.0 linear feet (49 boxes)


Pascal Pompey Pirone (b. 1907) was a plant pathologist, urban horticulturalist, and educator who worked for The New York Botanical Garden from 1947 to 1974. "Pat" Pirone was born in Mount Vernon, New York on October 7, 1907, and received his B.S. (1929) and Ph.D. (1933) at Cornell University. His doctoral dissertation was "A study of the leaf blight of carrots caused by Macrosporium carota." During his graduate education he worked with Long Island vegetable growers through a fellowship awarded by the Nassau County Farm Bureau. Upon graduation he joined the United States Department of Agriculture as a project leader in the Dutch elm disease eradication program and returned to Cornell University as assistant professor of plant pathology (1934-38).

From 1938 to 1947 Dr. Pirone served as associate professor at Rutgers University, where he invented the "aero (plant) propagator." He joined the staff of The New York Botanical Garden in 1947, succeeding Bernard O. Dodge. As plant pathologist his primary duties were to keep indoor and outdoor plant collections in good health; to diagnose and treat diseases of trees, shrubs, vegetables, and flowers; and to conduct research on the causes and control of such diseases. He discovered several species of fungi and bacteria harmful to trees, lectured widely, and wrote hundreds of scientific and popular articles on plant diseases and pests, gardening, and plant care. An authority on diseases of herbaceous ornamentals, Pirone is best known for Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants (originally with B. O. Dodge and H. W. Rickett) and The Maintenance of Ornamental and Shade Trees.

Early in his career at the Garden, Dr. Pirone conducted tests of pesticides to eradicate the Dothiorella canker disease of London plane trees (Platanus acerifolia) in New York City, and was a landscape consultant for the United Nations headquarters in Flushing Meadows. He investigated and treated many plant diseases such as begonia mildew, coleus wilt, and Rhododendron leaf-spot, and he researched the role of peat moss as a carrier of parasitic fungi. From his research he developed practical horticultural innovations such as methods of foliar feeding, i.e., the application of plant nutrients and antibiotics directly to foliage, and air-layering plants to develop roots above ground.

Pirone assisted manufacturers in testing the toxicity of fertilizer sprays and the efficacy of pesticides, soil conditioners, and growth inhibitors. In 1957 he investigated natural gas leaks injurious to vegetation in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and New Jersey and was an advisor to commercial florists and nurserymen, and the New York City Department of Parks. His clients included the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, the Ford Foundation, General Motors, IBM, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., Sleepy Hollow Restorations, Triboro Bridge Authority, Union Carbide, and scores of country clubs, shipping lines, public utilities companies, and private citizens. He also did private consulting work as "The Plant Doctor."

Apart from his professional career, Dr. Pirone was personally committed to research on poliomyelitis, believing that infectious diseases of fruit trees had a causal link in the epidemiology of polio. He collaborated with Dr. John A. Toomey of Cleveland City Hospital and Western Reserve University. In 1963 he was appointed Administrator of the New York Botanical Garden Charles B. Harding Laboratory and served as Senior Plant Pathologist and Senior Curator of Education (1968-1974). He received the Award of Merit of the International Society of Arboriculture (1980) and was the first recipient of the Gold Medal of Horticulture of the New York State Nurseryman's Association (1982). He was a member of the American Phytopathological Society and an editorial advisor to Trees Magazine. The New York Botanical Garden honored him with its Distinguished Service Award in 1982.


The Pascal P. Pirone collection consists of correspondence, research papers, manuscripts, photographic material, artwork, reprints, and an audio recording. It spans Dr. Pirone's professional career, including his Nassau County Farm Bureau fellowship, USDA employment, Rutgers University appointment, and New York Botanical Garden service, as well as his work as a private consultant.


Series 1: Correspondence
Series 2: Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants
Series 3: Manuscripts and Typescripts
Series 4: Research Papers
Series 5: Reports of the Plant Pathologist
Series 6: Photographs
Series 7: Negatives
Series 8: Lantern Slides
Series 9: Audio Recording
Series 10: Lectures and Course Curricula
Series 11: Personal Papers
Series 12: Publications

Series 1    Correspondence, 1932-1979
                  5.8 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically.

The correspondence consists of 5 boxes of files titled by organization, individual, or subject. Most pertains to fieldwork relating to consulting work performed privately and for The New York Botanical Garden, and to research and product development of horticultural chemicals. Reprints, advertisements, and related materials accompany the correspondence in some cases. There are 16 files of general correspondence (1960-1974). Correspondents include Charles Harding, Howard Irwin, Ronald Lauder, Thomas P. Reilly, William J. Robbins, and John A. Toomey, among others.

Series 2    Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants
                  4.1 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically.

This series consists of 4 boxes of files arranged alphabetically by host, i.e., plant genera subject to infestation and disease. Each file contains printed matter and written notes on fungal and insect diseases of plants used for Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants, 1970, 4th edition. Contents include species lists and related diseases (host index); reprints of journal, magazine, and newspaper articles; agriculture bulletins; extracts from The Plant Disease Reporter; abstracts from the Journal of Applied Mycology; chemical catalogues; and pesticide advertisements. The documents often include Dr. Pirone's annotations and research notes.

Series 3    Manuscripts and Typescripts, 1934-1974
                  0.5 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically.

Dr. Pirone's manuscripts and typescripts are contained in 44 files, with 6 files of other authors and 2 co-authored with John Toomey. They include book reviews, drafts and revisions for scientific publications, and diagnoses and reports for work performed by contract. Subjects include pest control, tree damage, chemical applications (fertilizers, pesticides, soil conditioners), gardening, preventive maintenance, diseases, and blights. One file consists of corrections to a proof of Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants, 1 of radio broadcasts, and 2 of vegetable crop disease research performed for the Nassau County Farm Bureau Fellowship.

Series 4    Research Papers, 1937-1979
                  1.3 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically.

The research papers consist of 26 files of annotated copies of 2 editions of Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants; data on poliomyelitis; a key to trees on the Princeton University campus; three research files on fruits and fruiting; and annotated reprints. There are 2 research publications: "Study for an underground parking garage in Madison Square Garden" conducted with the New York City Department of Traffic, and "The trees at Princeton University" done in conjunction with Clarke & Rapuano, Inc.

Series 5    Reports of the Plant Pathologist, 1947-1973
                  0.3 lin. ft. Arranged chronologically.

There are 3 files of annual reports on the work, findings, and accomplishments of the plant pathologist submitted to The New York Botanical Garden president. Topics include the progress of research on plant diseases, reviews of outdoor work on the New York Botanical Garden grounds, results of fieldwork, and lists of lectures and publications. Data on outdoor work includes itemized lists of volumes and dilutions of chemical sprays applied to specific plants and areas of the Garden grounds. There is 1 file of summary reports (1951-1969), a long-range planning report (1966), and a mission statement (1954) on the "Purpose and Function of the Department of Plant Pathology."

Series 6    Photographs, 1932-1974
                  4.1 lin. ft. Arranged by size, then alphabetically by subject.

There are 9 boxes of photographs arranged by size: 8 x 10 (1 box), 5 x 7 (6), and 4 x 5 (2). The collection includes photos by Pirone and associates as well as stock photos of chemical products and tree maintenance companies, including Monsanto Corporation and U.S. Rubber Company, for which Dr. Pirone respectively tested "Krillium" and "Rapidgro" products. The photographic record documents controlled experiments; development of methods (air-layering) and devices (aeropropagator) for preventive maintenance and tree care; demonstrations of procedures and equipment; laboratory cultures; insects; bacterial and fungal pathogens; and diseased or damaged plant subjects in situ. One sequence was used as figures for Maintenance of Shade and Ornamental Trees. There are also several portraits of Dr. Pirone (and associates) at work in the field and his laboratory. All photos with corresponding negatives are cross-referenced.

Series 7    Negatives, 1932-1974
                  2.0 lin. ft. Arranged by size, then alphabetically by subject.

There are 8 boxes of photographic negatives arranged by size, conforming to the arrangement in Series 6 (see above). Two boxes contain kodachrome slides. In most cases the negatives relate to corresponding positive prints with the exception of stock photographs of chemical products companies. There are 28 glass negatives, 5 in Box #23 and 23 in Box #27.

Series 8    Lantern Slides, 1929-1958
                  2.9 lin. ft. Arranged by subject.

There are 18 boxes of lantern slides whose subjects include flowering plants, plant diseases, and related topics. One box is titled "Vegetable Disease & Insect Control, 1929-33," dating from Pirone's graduate school years at Cornell University. The lantern slides are largely unrelated to the photographic record described above.

Series 9    Audio Recording, 1959
                  0.1 lin. ft. One item.

The single item in this series is a reel of magnetic audio tape labeled "WOR Hayes Air Check," recorded by Cue Recordings Inc., 117 W. 46th St., NY, NY, 10036. Two empty reels were discarded; these were labeled (1) "Dr. Pirone, 11 March 1959, J. B. Gambling," and (2) "MBS-952." Also discarded was a warped long-playing (33.3 rpm) record, No. 217, National Agricultural Chemicals Association, of which band #3 was titled "What's new in garden chemicals" by Dr. P. Pirone, Plant Pathologist, NYBG.

Series 10    Lectures and Course Curricula, 1925-1976
                    0.6 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically.

There are several files of lecture notes, syllabi, schedules, and outlines for courses and seminars at Rutgers University and the New York Botanical Garden pertaining to nursery and shade tree management, agriculture, pest control, plant pathology, and gardening. One file contains a chronological index (1925-1947) of monthly staff conferences (seminars) for New York Botanical Garden scientific staff, listing lecture titles and presenters. There are also announcements and schedules of the New York Botanical Garden "downtown lecture series," as well as course outlines and lecture notes for single programs for Garden-affiliated garden clubs, New York City Parks Department staff, and various colleges and conferences.

Series 11    Personal Papers, 1938-1976
                    0.7 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically.

This consists of personal correspondence, a biographical sketch, a diary (1938), church bulletins, certificates, clippings, pamphlets, and a book. There is one file of correspondence with Thomas P. Pirone (his brother) and related family material.

Series 12    Publications, 1932-1970
                    0.5 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically.

Included here are reprints and clippings of Dr. Pirone's publications in scientific journals, popular magazines, and newspapers. One file consists of a series of clippings of a regular column, "Modern Gardener" (1953-1956) from the magazine Flower Grower. There are 3 files of reprints of journal articles on poliomyelitis, one of which is a collection of separates of Dr. John Toomey, and one of Toomey and Pirone as co-authors.


The New York Botanical Garden

RG5    Bernard Ogilvie Dodge Records

RG5    William Jacob Robbins Records

Processed November 1999 by David Rose under a grant from the Harriet Ford Dickenson Foundation.

For more information and a complete description contact:
Susan Fraser, NYBG Archivist
The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
Bronx, NY 10458-5126
(718) 817-8879

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