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Lydia A. Kowalski papers


Compiled during her tenure as the Arnold Arboretum’s only Executive Director, the papers of Lydia Kowalski are comprised of correspondence, grant/funding proposals, financial reports, and a log of administrative duties. Kowalski was a musician and singer, and had extensive experience in non-profit management before her arrival at the Arnold Arboretum. Kowalski provided management of day to day operations while arboretum director Peter Ashton travelled for research. The Kowalski papers span the years 1985-1988, with a focus on 1987-1988.


  • 1985-1988

General Physical Description note

(6 boxes)

Terms of Access

This collection is open for research. Researchers seeking to examine archival materials are strongly encouraged to make an appointment. The Director, or an office of origin, may place restrictions on the use of some or all of its records. The extent and length of the restriction will be determined by the Director, office of origin, and the Archivist and will be enforced equally for all researchers.

Terms of Use

The copyright is held by The President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Arnold Arboretum Archives of Harvard University. The copyright on some materials in the collection may be held by the original author or the author's heirs or assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining written permission from the holder(s) of copyright and the Arnold Arboretum Archives prior to publishing any quotations or images from materials in this collection.

Photocopies may be made at the discretion of the Arnold Arboretum Archives staff. Permission to make photocopies does not constitute permission to reproduce or publish materials outside the bounds of the fair use guidelines.


2.5 linear feet

This collection is comprised of correspondence; grant/funding proposals, financial reports, and a log of administrative duties. The collection spans the years from 1985-1988, including educational proposals for the China Project 1987-88, The Flora of China program, the Children’s program from 1984-1986, The Case Estates Proposal 1986-87, the Herb Society proposal 1985, and the Field Study proposal.

Biographical note

Lydia A. Kowalski (1949 ) served from 1985 to 1988 as the only Executive Director in the history of the Arnold Arboretum. Kowalski, who had a strong background in managing non-profit organizations, was appointed to the newly created post by Arboretum Director Peter Ashton. Dr. Ashton managed the academic affairs, and as he became more involved in scientific research that required extensive travel and extended absences, Ms. Kowalski managed the day-to-day operations of the Arboretum during 1987 and 1988. With Dr. Ashton’s retirement, the administration of the Arboretum was reorganized and Lydia Kowalski resigned in 1988.

Lydia Kowalski received her degree in Music and Theater from Indiana University in 1971. An accomplished musician and opera singer, Kowalski went on to receive her master’s degree in City Planning from MIT, with a specialization in cultural planning. In 1980, she received a certificate in Museum Management from the Museum Management Institute at the University of California at Berkeley. With over 15 years of non-profit management planning and educational program development for many non-profit institutions in the Boston area, Kowalski came to the Arboretum in 1985.

During her three year career at the Arboretum, Lydia Kowalski managed a budget of $2.3 million that supported an academic, professional and support staff of 48, the 265-acre Jamaica Plain site, the Herbaria in Cambridge and The Case Estates in Weston, Massachusetts.

Arrangement note

The Kowalski collection is maintained in the order created by Kowalski.


The papers of Lydia Kowalski were compiled during her tenure at the Arboretum. The collection was transferred to the Archives in 1988 upon Kowalski's resignation. Box 1, Folder A (biographical material and photograph) added by Archives staff, 1998.

Processing Information note

October, 1998. Revised, Danielle Peloquin, March 2010.

Finding aid prepared by Liz Francis
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Arnold Arboretum Archives Repository

The Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library is a specialized collection devoted to the study of temperate woody plants. We collect works on botany, horticulture, floras, urban forestry and taxonomy. The library contains more than 25,000 volumes and 40,000 photographs, and includes an archive that both documents the Arboretum's history and is a repository for 19th, 20th, and 21st century horticultural and botanical collections.

125 Arborway
Jamaica Plain MA 02130 USA