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The late 1970s and early 1980s saw and upswing in violence and vandalism in Boston, which led to a subsequent drop-off in visitation to city parks. In response the Massachusetts Association for Olmsted Parks, The National Association for Olmsted Parks, Friends of the Public Garden and Common, and the Arnold Arboretum collaborated to create the Boston Park Ranger Program.
The Peter Shaw Ashton papers document Ashton's work as Director of the Arnold Arboretum, 1978-1987. The collection consists primarily of administrative records including agendas and reports, budgets, and documentation of special projects.
The collection contains records of the legal dispute between The Association for the Arnold Arboretum, Inc. and the President and Fellows of Harvard College that became widely known as “The Arnold Arboretum Controversy.” After a protracted legal battle the outcome was finally adjudicated by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1966.