Featured Image

Miss Virginia Keyes at the library desk, 1902

18 x 13 cm. Gelatin silver process.

Library. Miss Virginia Keyes at desk.

Photograph by Alfred Rehder (1863-1949), United States, Germany
Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library, Hunnewell Building, Jamaica Plain, MA
November 1902

The library collection of Arnold Arboretum was originally located at Dwight House, Holm Lea, the estate of Director Charles Sprague Sargent (1841 -1927). In 1892, the construction of The Hunnewell Building, along with Sargent’s donation of 6,000 volumes, enabled the library collection to further develop on Arboretum grounds. In 1882, Sargent, in his annual report, describes John Robinson (1846-1925) of Salem, Massachusetts as being in “charge of these departments [at the time Herbarium and Museum] of the Arboretum from their beginning.” In May, 1882 Charles Edward Faxon (1846-1918) took charge of the library and herbarium. Next, Ethelyn Maria Tucker (1871- ?) who may have been Faxon’s assistant until 1904, was Librarian from 1899-1939, and wrote the 3-volume Catalogue of the library of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University (1914-1933).

Today 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. Our holdings of materials related to the flora and landscapes of Boston and New England are very strong, as are our holdings on 18th and 19th century horticulture, gardening, parks and nursery materials. We are the repository for the records of our plant collecting expeditions to Eastern Asia in the early 20th century which are a wealth of scientific and ethnographic information. As part of the Harvard Library system and The Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries (CBHL), we continue to facilitate research with a vast array of available digital and print resources.

Alfred Rehder first came to the Arboretum in 1898 while on assignment for Moller’s Deutsche Gartner-Zeitungand where he held the position of Associate Editor. Intending only to stay in America for half a year, he was persuaded to join the Arboretum’s staff and he remained at the Arboretum until, and beyond, his retirement in 1940. He was appointed Curator of the Arboretum’s Herbarium in 1918, became editor of the Journal of the Arnold Arboretum in 1927, and Harvard appointed him Associate Professor of Dendrology in 1934.

The Archive Collection of the Arnold Arboretum holds the Alfred Rehder (1863-1949) papers, 1898-1949.

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