Records of the American Iris Society (RA)

Archives, The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
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Collectors: The American Iris Society
Title: Records of the American Iris Society (RA)
Dates: 1909-1934
Abstract: Contains incoming and outgoing correspondence, photographs, meeting minutes, newspaper clippings, iris catalogs, drawings, horticultural checklists, policies, bulletins, and manuscript drafts.
Quantity: 10 linear inches; 3 boxes.
Call Phrase: American Iris Society (RA)

The American Iris Society

Founded in 1920 and incorporated in 1927, the American Iris Society was established for the purpose of promoting and sharing information about Iridaceae . The Society's bulletin provided its members with specific information about cultural and historical issues, proposed projects, and identified various officers and directors. At the time, it's members included nurserymen, horticulturists, and avid gardeners, and botanists.

The New York Botanical Garden acted as sponsor in establishing the Society and received assistance from Dr. A.C. Beal, head of the Department of Horticulture for NYBG, in drafting a constitution for AIS that provided a framework for the establishment of six regional groups with their own Vice Presidents. Others involved in this drafting included Robert Swan Sturtevant, the first Secretary of AIS, and Professor A.P. Saunders, a chemistry teacher from Hamilton College.

Scope and Content

This collection consists primarily of the correspondence files of Robert Swan Sturtevant, the first Secretary of the American Iris Society. Principal correspondents include John C. Wister and Harry H. Everett. Also included are minutes, bulletins, a scrapbook, and photographs of various members and specific Society events. There are loose seed catalogs devoted entirely to the Iris as well as an index of seed catalog pages created by a member of the AIS.


The collection is organized into four series:
Series 1: Seed Catalogs. 1913-ca. 1921.
Series 2: Correspondence. 1928-1934.
Series 3: Subject Files. 1920-1933.
Series 4: Photographs/Scrapbooks. 1919-1922.


Access restrictions

This collection is open for research with permission from Mertz Library staff.


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be submitted in writing to the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Everett, Harry H.
Sturtevant, Robert Swan.
Wister, John C.
Botany--Societies, etc.
Seeds--Catalogs and collections--North America.
Horticulture--Societies, etc.
American Iris Society.
New York Botanical Garden.
Document Types
photographs, black and white.

Related Material

New York Botanical Garden

VF-- American Iris Society

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

American Iris Society (RA), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden.

Acquisition Information

The records of the American Iris Society were accessioned on 30 January 1980 (Accession # x66).

Processing Information

Processed August 2005 by Kathleene Konkle under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) PA-50678-04.

Container List


Series 1. Seed Catalogs.

Scope and Content:

This series contains seed catalogs from various suppliers throughout the country, including several from Europe. Some are loose and foldered separately, while the specific catalogs collected by the American Iris Society have been indexed by a member. The index is available in the folder.

Folder Title Date
1.1 Collected Seed Catalogs; Vol. III, A-M. 1915-1922
1.2 Collected Seed Catalogs; Vol. IV, P-Z. 1915-1922
1.3 R. Wallace & Co., Ltd. 1913-1914/1917-1921/n.d.
1.4 Wellesley Nurseries, Wellesley Hills, MA. ca. 1916
1.5 G.G. Whitelegg & Company 1920-1921/undated
1.6 The Wing Seed Co., Mechanicsburg, OH. undated

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Series 2. Correspondence.

Scope and Content:

This series contains correspondence between Robert Sturtevant, John C. Wister, Dr. Harry H. Everett, and others regarding administrative matters of AIS including membership information, the content of publications, exchange of minutes, board membership appointments, article preparations, and exhibit preparations.

Folder Title Date
1.7 Sturtevant-Wister 1928-1934
1.8 Sturtevant-Everett 1933-1934
1.9 Sturtevant-General 1933-1934/undated

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Series 3. Subject Files.

Scope and Content:

This series includes general information about AIS such as meeting minutes, an unbound copy of an iris checklist of species and cultivars, manuscripts and drafts of proposed articles, outlines of awards policies, and pencil sketches of a proposed society emblem.

Folder Title Date
2.1 Checklist-Species and Cultivars January 1, 1922
2.2 Drawings undated
2.3 Manuscripts and notes 1931-1933/undated
2.4 Meeting minutes and bulletins 1932-1933
2.5 Policy of awards 1920-1933

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Series 4. Photographs/Scrapbook.

Scope and Content:

This series includes photographs from the New Rochelle Iris Show, June 1923, and an album containing photographs of iris gardens in various locations. There is also a selection of group photos that include members of the American Iris Society. The scrapbook consists of clippings of newspaper, seed catalog, and journals of AIS along with announcements of Society activities.

Folder Title Date
3.1 Photographs June, 1923
3.2 Scrapbook 1920-1922
3.3 Album 1919-1922

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