Records of the Bussey Institution, 1883-1994
Scope and Contents
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
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.
Extent0.3 linear feet (1 boxes)
Biographical / Historical
In 1870 Mrs. Motley released seven acres of the property for the establishment of the school and work began on dormitory, classrooms and outbuildings. At the same time her husband, Thomas Motley, Jr., was appointed instructor of farming, a post he held until his death in 1895, and Francis Storer was named professor of agricultural chemistry. In 1871, as the new Bussey Institution buildings neared completion additional professors were chosen including Francis Parkman as professor of horticulture. Charles S. Sargent succeeded him in that position in 1872.
Enrollment in the program was never very large, it averaged about eight students during the years 1880-1895 and only ten undergraduate degrees were ever granted. Francis Storer felt that growth was hampered by free tuition offered by the Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst, Massachusetts and by the founding of the Harvard Veterinary School. Several of the instructors donated their services and the salaries of the others were paid through private subscriptions. Additional funds were raised by boarding livestock and by raising vegetables for the Harvard College food services. Enrollment improved during the period 1896-1907 and new instructors were appointed, including John G. Jack.
At least one future landscape architect was enrolled in the program at the Bussey Institution. He was Charles Eliot, son of Harvard President Charles Eliot, who was later employed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
The Bussey Institution remained as an undergraduate school until 1908 when it was reorganized into the Graduate School of Applied Science (after 1915 Applied Biology). That year Professor William E. Castle moved his laboratory to the Bussey. In 1909 Dr. Edward M. East was appointed chair of Experimental Plant Morphology. The program was expanded to include plant anatomy in 1914 with the appointment of Professor Irving W. Bailey. Professor Oakes Ames followed in 1915 and maintained a laboratory there until 1926.
In 1930 the Bussey faculty was merged with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and in 1936 the Bussey staff was transferred to the Biological Laboratories in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Bussey Institution remained as a holding agency and its funds were used to support the Arnold Arboretum. In the late 1940s botanical activities were reorganized at Harvard University and the Bussey Institution was folded into the Institute for Research in Experimental and Applied Botany. During World War II the Bussey Institution buildings in Jamaica Plain were renovated and used by the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
The Bussey Institution began an ongoing relationship with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in 1894 when the department began to produce diphtheria antitoxin at the Bussey facility. In 1904 a new Antitoxin and Vaccine Laboratory was built on adjacent land. In 1947 the Bussey buildings became the home of the Diagnostic Laboratories. By the 1963 more room was needed, so the state arranged the purchase of the former Bussey Institution grounds and buildings from Harvard University. When construction of the new State Laboratory Institute began in 1969 on the property, efforts were made to preserve the old gothic Bussey Institution building however funding was not available for preservation and restoration of the structure and it was demolished in the early 1970s.
Other Finding Aids
Immediate Source of Acquisition
By: Lisa Pearson
Revised: May 2003 By: Sheila Connor
Revised: March 2011 By: Kayleigh Hinckley
- Bussey Institution. Records of the Bussey Institution, 1883-1994 : A Finding Aid.
- Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
- EAD ID
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.
Jamaica Plain MA 02130 USA