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Detail of a proposed greenhouse, Lord & Burnham, 1915
Archives and Manuscripts

The Archives provide a comprehensive history of the growth and development of The New York Botanical Garden since its inception in 1891 as well as the history of botanical science and horticulture as fields of study. The records chronicle the growth and development of the Garden as a major international scientific, educational, and cultural institution. They also document the relationships between the Garden and its personalities with other botanical, horticultural, and cultural institutions in the 19th and 20th centuries, both in this country and abroad. Manuscripts of important botanists, horticulturists, and educators provide a wealth of information about the individuals, their scientific, horticultural, and other notable accomplishments.

The collections contain nearly a mile of unpublished archival documents and manuscripts such as correspondence, working papers, field notebooks, photographs, architectural plans, maps, illustrations, portraits, and artifacts.

The Archives are arranged in three categories:

The institutional records were created as a result of official Garden activities.
The personal papers contain correspondence, manuscripts, research notes, and other materials from botanists, horticulturists, and landscape designers associated with the history of botany and horticulture in the U.S., the development of the landscape, and the growth and evolution of the Garden and its work.
The repository archives are the historical records of selected botanical and horticultural organizations, plant societies and plant-related business and industry. The Lord & Burnham Collection (see below) is a star attraction of the repository archives.

The Lord & Burnham Collection holds architectural drawings, correspondence and account books for greenhouses, conservatories, and related structures, erected in the United States in the late 19th and 20th centuries by the Lord & Burnham Company and by other manufacturers associated with the firm. The collection contains over 140,000 architectural plans and includes data on structural and site elements for more than 7,000 glass structures. An index to over 100,000 of these plans is accessible on a local database.

The Catalog of Landscape Records in the United States collects, organizes and makes available information about the location and content of archival collections of landscape records, planting plans, maps, correspondence, photographs, and personal and business archives of individuals and firms relating to the American landscape. The database captures information about the location of important library and archival holdings of built and natural landscapes held in American libraries, museums and historical societies. In addition to these primary sources, the Catalog also contains biographical information and statewide surveys.

The Catalog serves as an information clearinghouse and is an invaluable resource for research in the fields of garden history and landscape design. It is the only research resource of its kind in the United States. Requests for information are taken via Garden's email The catalog is maintained by the staff of The LuEsther T. Mertz Library.

Printed and electronic finding guides to many of these historical collections held in the Archives are available upon request in the Library and online. Browse the collection)

Descriptive records for many collections may also be found in the Gardenís online catalog. The archives and manuscript collections are available for researchers with an appointment.

Please contact:

  Stephen Sinon, Head of Information and Archives, at

    or send your inquiry to

    The Archives
    Mertz Library
    The New York Botanical Garden
    Bronx, NY 10458

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