Arnold Arboretum. Records of the Original Design of the Living Collections: A Finding Aid.
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.
Extent1.75 linear feet (3 boxes)
Biographical / Historical
Series I: Correspondence, 1874-1939, 1972-1983.
This series contains correspondence between Frederick Law Olmsted and the first director of the Arnold Arboretum, Charles S. Sargent, between the Boston Parks Department and Olmsted and later between Olmsted Brothers and Alfred Rehder. This correspondence, primarily copies of material held at the National Archives, establishes Olmsted's first involvement with the Arboretum. Most letters are handwritten, some are typed, and some annotated. Several are original letters; one from John C. Olmsted to CSS dated 1886 (folder 7), a letter from Frederick Law Olmsted to CSS dating from 1894 (folder 12) and one from 1895 (folder 13). There is a break in the series and the correspondence resumes in the 1970s through the early 1980s with Olmsted related correspondence from Peter Ashton and others.
Series II: Olmsted Historic Sites and Parks.
This series contains materials on Fairsted, Olmsted's home and office in Brookline, MA, information and publications on the Boston Park System and some materials on the National Association of Olmsted Parks.
Series III: Arnold Arboretum Related Materials.
In 1979, prior to the National Park Services acquisition of Fairsted, Peter Ashton, director of the Arboretum, secured copies of the original material about the Arboretum from Olmsted Associates, Inc., direct successor to the continuous line of firms bearing the Olmsted name since 1858. The material was obtained to guide the restoration of the living collections of the Arboretum. The series includes an index, maps, plans, correspondence, and published material pertaining to the creation of the Arboretum's design.
Series IV: Olmsted Biographical Materials
This biographical material was collected by the Arboretum staff to further an understanding of Olmsted's life and his design principles.
Series V: Newsclippings, 1861-1989
These newsclippings cover the period 1861-1989 with many breaks in the sequence. The articles are primarily from the period of Olmsted's involvement with the Central Park in the 1860s and 70s and the Olmsted revival in the 1980s.
Series VI: Drawings and maps, 1878-1897
This series consists of photographic reproductions and their negatives made in 1979 of original maps, drawings, plans and other like documents now held by the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site which pertain to the Arnold Arboretum. The originals were produced in a variety of media including pencil on tracing paper, some with color, ink on vellum, blueprints, lithographed topographic plans, etc. The photographic reproductions were made at Harvard Astrological Observatory in 1979. The material photographed includes Olmsted's distribution studies. These studies are not intended as planting plans, but rather reveal the design process that Olmsted worked through in his attempt to integrate a collection of woody plant material arranged in a hierarchical order according to a taxonomic system, a circulation system that would allow people to pass through the landscape (in carriages), and an aesthetic that would ultimately impart a sense of natural beauty to the people passing through the space. Sub-series A, B & C are contact prints of the 8-inch by 10-inch negatives in Sub-series D. They are photographs whose provenance is documented in Series 3, especially folders 48-50. Some annotations are attached to the photographs. Originally, as working files for the restoration of the living collections, the photographs were enclosed in plastic sheet protectors and put into three-ring binders. In 2002, the photographs were re-housed in mylar enclosures in archival folders.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
By: Barbara Schneider, Intern,
Edited by Sheila Connor 12/17/99
Revised by Lisa Pearson March 2002
- Arnold Arboretum. Records of the Original Design of the Living Collections: A Finding Aid.
- Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
- 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