Arnold Arboretum Plant Accession Records. Early Record Books: Guide.
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Extent1 linear feet
Dawson recorded this information in a series of books arranged by alphabetical, numerical, or phylogenetic order making it difficult to determine when some of these books were begun. For the most part the entries in phylogenetic order follow the Bentham and Hooker classification system for flowering plants that had been established for the arrangement of the living collections. One of those arranged in phylogenetic order may have been an inventory of plants already present in the collections and could have been intended to accompany the maps that documented the placement of trees planted in the systematic arrangement. The first map that documented tree placement was made in 1887 by landscape architect Henry Sargent Codman, a partner in Frederick Law Olmsted’s firm, and a nephew of Charles Sprague Sargent, the Arboretum’s first director.
The numbering system Dawson used, in which each new taxon added to the collection was assigned a base number from which the numbers assigned to subsequent accessions of the same taxon were derived, suggests that these were inventory numbers rather than accession numbers as used in our current system. There may also have been a parallel record system on cards that recorded all material received.
As the collection grew, so did the quantity of accessions representing the same taxon, and the use of the same base number for genetically unrelated accessions invited error and misinterpretation. It became clear that the system required a change, so a large proportion of the collection was renumbered: the first incoming accession of a taxon retained its number, but later accessions of the same taxon were assigned new numbers. Vegetative repropagations of material already in the collection continued to follow the suffix system, each bearing a number derived from either the original or the new base number assigned to the accession from which it had been propagated.
This initial system remained cumbersome, and in 1916, when William Judd assumed the post of plant propagator, he initiated a new system, assigning a year-coded number that consisted of a sequential number with an appended year code to each accession received.
Some additional but limited information about early plant accessions and planting practices can also be found in the Arboretum’s early Expense Journals. Please see ARCHIVES I C-1.1
Today accession records are maintained on BG-BASE™ a database linked to a mapping program that shows the location of each plant on a series of maps. The Arnold Arboretum's living collections database, BG-BASE™, is online at http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu/plants/inventory.html and can be searched by entering one or more words from the scientific or common name.
- Series: I. Early Record Books
Other Finding Aids
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Arnold Arboretum Plant Accession Records. Early Record Books: Guide.
- 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