Massachusetts Horticulture Society Shares its Botanical Prints Collection
by Maureen Horn, Librarian, Massachusetts Horticulture Society, via email from Danielle Rudeen, The Huntington, posted by Deb Shaw
“Cereus lemoinei,” by Mrs. William Duffield, 1892. Massachusetts Horticultural Society Library, Box 9, Repros (shelf locator). Gift of Mrs. Fiske Warren, March, 1943. Permalink: http://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/0p097c160 This work is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND).
The Massachusetts Horticulture Society has announced that its botanical print collection has been digitized at the Boston Public Library and is ready to be viewed online.
The digitizing and posting of the collection is the culmination of 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 for viewing and use by members, scholars, historians, artists and the general public.
Mass Hort’s Botanical Print Collection contains more than three centuries of botanical illustration, dating from 1620 to 1969, offering an invaluable resource. Artists and the public can explore images that until now have been seen only by experts.
Tom Blake, Digital Projects Manager, Boston Public Library, commented that “Digital Commonwealth enables Massachusetts cultural institutions to develop a virtual presence, enhancing education and research by creating a community of support, offering professional advice, and facilitating collaboration. The Digital Commonwealth portal facilitates worldwide access to the cultural heritage of Massachusetts. Our repository provides an affordable option to organizations that are unable to host one locally.”
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.
Noticing an interest in botanical prints, the Society mounted its first major exhibit in 1968. It continued with another exhibition in 1969, when a group of lily prints was shown to the North American Lily Society at its annual meeting.
Today, digitization and online access to special collections is an important strategy for any cultural heritage organization. With the help of Digital Commonwealth, Mass Hort’s Library will meet the 21st Century digital needs of students, researchers, authors and the public.