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COLLECTION Identifier: 2009-M35

Papers of Ernesta Drinker Ballard, 1958-2005


Papers of horticulturalist, feminist, and civic leader, Ernesta Drinker Ballard.


  • 1958-2005

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


37 linear feet (68 file boxes, 6 cartons, 3 card boxes, 8 slide boxes)
Collection includes records and publications of organizations with which Ballard was affiliated; calendars; notebooks; audiotapes of her radio shows on gardening; videotapes; slides; awards and plaques; etc.

Unprocessed papers may contain documents with dates earlier or later than those noted in this record. Folders are not numbered. Papers are left as received from donor.


Horticulturalist, feminist, and civic leader, Ernesta Drinker Ballard was the daughter of Henry S. "Harry" and Sophie Hutchinson Drinker. Her father was a prominent lawyer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, her mother a feminist and author. Not encouraged to attend college, she graduated as an adult from the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women in 1954, when she started her own greenhouse business. From 1963 to 1981 Ballard was executive director of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) and was credited with transforming a then-faltering annual indoor flower show into the largest in the world. With funds generated by the show, she started the PHH's community gardening program, Philadelphia Green. Ballard was also instrumental in saving public monuments in Philadelphia, and in restoring the buildings and grounds of the Fairmount Waterworks (she served as Fairmount Park commissioner for 21 years, until 2002).

A convenor of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women in 1967, Ballard was also a co-convenor of the Pennsylvania International Women’s Year committee (1977) and served as treasurer (1986-1988) and chair (1989-1991) of the National Abortion Rights Action League. She was active in the Republican Party, running as a candidate for Philadelphia city commissioner in 1983, and serving on the executive committee of Pennsylvania Republicans for Choice, 1988-1994. Ballard was married to lawyer Frederic L. Ballard, who died in 2001; they had four children. She died in Philadelphia at age 85 in 2005.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2009-M35

The papers of Ernesta Drinker Ballard were given to the Schlesinger Library by her children, Frederic L. Ballard, Jr., Sophie Ballard Bilezikian, Ernesta Ballard, and Alice Walker Ballard in February 2009.

Processing Information

Container list: February 2009

By: Andrea Gottschalk
Link to catalog
Ballard, Ernesta Drinker. Papers of Ernesta Drinker Ballard, 1958-2005: A Container List
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future.

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