Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: gra00082

Harvard Botanic Garden records

Scope and content

This collection includes correspondence, financial records, policies, plant information, publications (mostly photocopies of newspaper articles), timelines, and plans related to the Harvard Botanic Garden. The materials are dated from 1784-1987 and only cover a small portion of the history of the Botanic Garden.


  • 1784-1987


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research by appointment with the following exceptions: Harvard University records are restricted for 50 years; Harvard personnel and student records are closed for 80 years. Some restrictions have been noted in the finding aid. Other records may need to be evaluated by archives staff in advance.

Please contact for additional information.


0.3 linear feet (17 folders in file cabinet, 5 plans stored in flat file)

Historical note

Harvard Botanic Garden was established by Harvard University in 1805, and was directed by William Dandridge Peck until his death in 1822. Succeeding curators or directors included: Thomas Nuttall (1822-circa 1833); Asa Gray (1842-1872); Charles Sprague Sargent (1872-1879); George Lincoln Goodale (1879-1909); Oakes Ames (1909-1922); Stephen Hamblin (1922-1930); Robert H. Woodworth (1930-1935); and Elmer D. Merrill (1935-1946). Herbaceous plant specimens in the Garden were given to Lexington Botanic Garden in 1930, and the Botanic Garden ceased to exist in 1947.

Related Materials

Other related material at Harvard University: In 2016, the Botany Libraries transferred The Harvard Herbaria collection of plans and blueprints to the Harvard Planning & Project Management (HPPM) Office, Cambridge, MA.

Three of the transferred plans were formerly part of the Harvard Botanic Garden records (gra00082). Five plans were retained by the Botany Libraries and are described on this finding aid.

Botanic Garden plans transferred to HPPM
  1. Map of Harvard Botanic Garden and Observatory Grounds, 1888 (2 plans transferred, 2 plans retained by Botany Libraries).
  2. New Plan for Systematic Arrangement of Beds in the Botanic Garden, 1924. Stephen F. Hamblin; K. Newton. 88 x 124 cm.

Conservation note

In 2016, five plans from this collection underwent conservation treatment and were encapsulated at Harvard's Weissman Preservation Center.

Harvard University. Botanic Garden. Harvard Botanic Garden records, 1784-1987: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University.
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Botany Libraries, Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University Repository

The Harvard University Herbaria houses five research libraries that are managed collectively as the Botany Libraries. The Gray Herbarium Library specializes in the identification and classification of New World plants with emphasis on North American plants. The Archives of the Gray Herbarium houses unique resources including personal papers, institutional records, field notes and plant lists, expedition records, photographs, original artwork, and objects from faculty, curators, staff, and affiliates of the Gray Herbarium.

Harvard University Herbaria
22 Divinity Ave
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2366