Archives and Manuscripts

The Archives of The New York Botanical Garden provide a comprehensive history of the growth and development of The Garden since its inception in 1891 as well as chart the history of American botanical science and horticulture as fields of study. The departmental records chronicle the growth and development of the Garden as a major international scientific, educational, and cultural institution and document the relationships between Garden staff with colleagues at 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 and their 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The collections contain nearly a mile of unpublished archival documents and manuscripts such as correspondence, working papers, field notebooks, photographs, architectural plans, maps, illustrations, portraits,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.

Finding guides for many of these historical collections are available online.

The Archives are arranged in three main 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. 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.

Additional Resources

The Lord & Burnham Collection holds architectural drawings, correspondence and account books for greenhouses, conservatories, and related structures, designed and built in the United States from the late 19th through the mid 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 searchable online. More information about the firm can be found in the finding guide for the collection.

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 email at libref@nybg.org

Descriptive records for many collections may also be found in the Garden's online catalog. The archives and manuscript collections are only available for researchers with an appointment. Try searching ARCHIVEGRID to discover primary source materials for your research.

For more information on archival collections or to schedule an appointment, please contact: Stephen Sinon, Head of Information Services and Archives, at ssinon@nybg.org