Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: I B-1 AG

Collection on Asa Gray


The Collection on Asa Gray was assembled by the Archives of the Arnold Arboretum. Through the donation of an immense book and plant collection numbering in the thousands, Gray effectively created the botany department at Harvard. This archival collection consists primarily of photographs of Gray, his herbarium, and memorials in his honor.


  • 1879-

General Physical Description note

(1 narrow box)

(1 narrow box)

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.


0.25 linear feet
This small collection consists of a photocopied list of plants in the [Cambridge] Botanical Garden, a first issue commemorative Asa Gray postage stamp, "A Bicentennial Celebration: A Tribute to Asa Gray," and photographs of Gray, his herbarium, and memorials in his honor.

Biographical note

As Charles Sargent was appointed Director in 1873, he and his staff were financed primarily from other sources, such as the Harvard Botanic Garden and the Bussey Institution, for seven years until the Arnold Arboretum rightfully began to use its own money. While serving also as Director of the Botanic Garden in Cambridge, Sargent began to obtain seeds and plants to be used ultimately in the collections of the Arboretum.

In his first report as Director of the Arnold Arboretum, Sargent wrote: "I am under deep obligation to Dr. Asa Gray for the valuable assistance and advice with which he has honored me from the very outset of the undertaking, and for an introduction to his numerous correspondents both in America and Europe."

. . . Sargent’s inspiration from Asa Gray, therefore, was to complement a living collection of hardy woody plants with a museum for public education, and an herbarium and a library to support the scientific work.

From: Howard, Richard A. "Scientists and Scientific Contributions of the Arnold Arboretum: The First Century," Arnoldia Vol. 32, No. 2, 1972.

Related Archival Materials note

Gray's manuscripts are in the Asa Gray papers held by the Gray Herbarium Archives, Harvard Botany Libraries.

Processing Information note

Sheila Connor. Revised 2013, Liz Francis
I B-1 AG
Finding aid prepared by Liz Francis

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
(617) 522-1086