Search our collection

Library Holdings

Charles Sprague Sargent

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927), photograph by
J. E. Purdy & Co. (n.d.). Approximately 1910. Gelatin silver process on paper.

Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library is a specialized research collection that supports the curation, documentation, and study of the Arboretum’s living collections of woody plants. We serve Arboretum members and staff, the Harvard community, and the public.

The library began as the personal collection of the Arboretum’s first director, Charles Sprague Sargent. When the Hunnewell Building was constructed in 1893, Sargent donated his library of over 6,000 volumes to the Arboretum. Today, the library contains over 40,000 volumes, 65,000 images, 950 maps, and over 300 archival collections. We serve a wide variety of patrons seeking information about the plant world, the history of plant exploration (of Eastern Asia, in particular), taxonomic data, and related botanical subjects.

Books and Journals

The library collects printed material dedicated to the study of botany, dendrology, horticulture, landscape architecture and history, floras of the world, and taxonomy. The library also collects works on botanical art, conservation, design, history, interpretation, management, natural history, and urban forestry. See the Guide to our Collection for a listing by subject. We encourage all researchers to contact us by phone or email.

The titles held in the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library in Jamaica Plain may be located in HOLLIS, the Harvard Library Catalog. Selecting Advanced Search enables you to limit your search to our location: Botany Arboretum. HOLLIS also offers access to many useful databases and journals of scholarly interest (a Harvard ID/PIN may be required for certain resources).


The Arnold Arboretum Archives detail our institutional history and its influences on the study of botany and horticulture.

HOLLIS for Archival Discovery provides guides to archival and manuscript collections at Harvard. These resources offer a wide variety of materials–correspondence, diaries, photographs, drawings, field notes, and objects.

Correspondence Database includes letters that were written and received by staff members from the 1880s to the 1960s. Most letters focus on plant accessions, plant exploration, plant identification, plant requests, and taxonomy. Correspondence from famous horticulturists affiliated with botanical gardens and arboreta, and from government agencies, and active gardeners and amateur horticulturists are represented.

Visual Archives

Our collection over 65,000 images is especially strong in its documentation of our living collections, cultural landscapes domestic and foreign, ethnography, botany, and horticulture. Our digitization projects have enabled us to expand what we offer online, and preserve our collections for future generations. We also showcase a Featured Image every week.

HOLLIS Images is a union catalog of Harvard visual resources and includes catalog records for objects or images owned, held or licensed by Harvard.


Library Leaves, the blog of the staff of the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library, offers a close-up, behind-the-scenes look at our unique collections, upcoming events, and ongoing projects.