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News: From The Garden Club of America Collection at the Archives of American Gardens


May 02, 2019

See thousands of historic and contemporary garden images

The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens is a repository of photographic images including those relating to over 4,500 gardens documented by The Garden Club of America. The core of the GCA Collection includes 3,500 hand-colored glass lantern slides from the 1920s and 1930s that had been used by garden clubs to illustrate lectures for their members. Many slides may not have captured a true record of a garden’s colors since the colorists—those who hand-tinted the black and white images—did not necessarily visit the garden in person.

Houghton Garden, Chestnut Hill, MA. c. 1920s. (hand-colored glass lantern slide)

Dayton Garden, Palm Beach, FL. Eleanor C. Weller, photog. 1989. (35mm slide)

As photography matured over the course of the twentieth century, glass lantern slides fell out of favor. When renovating its offices in the 1980s, The Garden Club of America discovered boxes of these slides and wondered what to do with them. Thanks to the efforts of Harriet Jackson Phelps, Eleanor Weller Reade and many others, the glass lantern slides that formed a one-of-a-kind collection used for horticulture and garden lectures were saved, researched, archived and donated to the Smithsonian in 1992 to serve as a visual history of gardens across the country, many of which no longer exist or have been dramatically altered.

Thompson Garden, Manchester, CA. Corliss Deborah S. Knapp Engle, photog. 1996. (35mm slide)

Nottage Garden, Kaneohe, HI. Bocken, photog. 2010. (digital image)

Digital scans of glass lantern slides in The Garden Club of America Collection at the AAG, as well as thousands of other historic and contemporary garden images, are readily available on the Smithsonian’s online Collections Search Center at The images provide an invaluable resource for landscape designers, historians, preservationists, scholars, students and garden enthusiasts engaged in the study and appreciation of gardens and garden design.

Images from The Garden Club of America Collection at the Archives of American Gardens. By Lynn Filipski, Vice Chairman, GCA Garden History and Design Committee. May 2015.


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April 29, 2019

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April 23, 2019


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