Thanks to three months of collaboration between the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, the Boston Public Library, and Digital Commonwealth, more than 1,000 rare images from the oldest horticultural library in the nation are now available at the click of a button.
With prints dating from 1620 to 1969, Mass Hortâ€™s Botanical Print Collection captures more than three centuries in the evolution of botanical illustration, offering an invaluable resource for students, researchers, and authors in the field of horticultural. The digital portal will also create opportunities for the public to explore images that until now have been seen only by experts and aficionados, and to cultivate an appreciation for the art and science of horticulture from the comfort of their own homes.
The Horticultural Library at Massachusetts Horticultural Society was the first in the United States. It was established soon after the Society was founded in 1829 to share horticulture knowledge and beauty through its prints, books, extensive collection of seed catalogs, and other rare materials. Its horticultural holdings provide invaluable resources to our members, scholars, historians and general public.
Noticing that interest in botanical prints had grown during the intervening 140 years, the Society mounted its first major exhibit in 1968. It continued in 1969, when a group of lily prints was shown to the North American Lily Society at its annual meeting.
Digitization and online access to special collections is an important strategy for any cultural heritage organization as it allows us to reach our users beyond our buildings and business hours. Today, with the help of Digital Commonwealth, Mass Hortâ€™s Library will meet the 21st Century digital needs of students, researchers, authors and the public.
Massachusetts Horticultural Societyâ€™s botanical prints are available online at the Digital Commonwealth repository at https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/collections/commonwealth:k930hm897. These images are available for the purposes of viewing and studying and not for commercial use.
Massachusetts Horticultural Societyâ€™s Library collection includes over 20,000 volumes at our library in the Education Center of our Elm Bank horticulture center and gardens. Additionally, at a separate archival storage facility, the Society maintains 5,000 rare books, manuscripts, prints, seed catalogs, glass slides, and early transactions of horticultural institutions.
Many of the books transferred to the Chicago Botanical Gardenâ€™s Lenhardt Library Rare Book Collection in the early 2000â€™s by Mass Hort are now available online through the Illinois Digital Archives at http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/ncbglib01; search on â€œMassachusetts Horticultural Society.â€
Digital Commonwealth is a non-profit collaborative organization that provides resources and services to support the creation, management, and dissemination of cultural heritage materials held by Massachusetts libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives. Digital Commonwealth currently has over 130 member institutions from across the state.