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II A-5.

Sutton, S. B. (Silvia Barry), 1940-1997. Papers of Stephanne (Silvia Barry) Sutton, 1965-1968 (inclusive): A Finding Aid.

Archives of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University


The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: II A-5.
Repository: Archives of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University
Title: Sutton, S. B. (Silvia Barry), 1940-1997. Papers of Stephanne (Silvia Barry) Sutton, 1965-1968 (inclusive).
Date(s): 1965-1968
Quantity: 4 boxes
Abstract: The Stephanne (Silvia) Barry Sutton papers reflect the years from 1965-1968 and primarily focus on the working notes and papers for Sutton's biography of Charles S. Sargent. The collection is maintained in the order created by Stephanne Sutton and obtained during her tenure.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

With the exception of two files on her work on Joseph Rock (1972-1994) which were acquired by the Arboretum's archives from her long-time friend and literary executor, Phyllis Anderson in January 2000, the Sutton papers reflect the years from 1965-1968, her tenure at the Arboretum, and are maintained in the order she created. (Confidential file: For biographical reference, inserted in the collection is Sutton's personnel folder from the administration files of Arboretum director Dr. Richard A. Howard 1954-1978.). This collection was transferred from the Arnold Arboretum's departmental holdings to the Arboretum's Archives in 1984.

Processing Information:

Processed: September 1998

Terms of Access:

Researchers seeking to examine archival materials are strongly encouraged to make an appointment. The Director, or an office of origin, may place restrictions on the use of some or all of its records. The extent and length of the restriction will be determined by the Director, office of origin, and the Archivist and will be enforced equally for all researchers.

Terms of Use:

The copyright is held by The President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Arnold Arboretum Archives of Harvard University. The copyright on some materials in the collection may be held by the original author or the author's heirs or assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining written permission from the holder(s) of copyright and the Arnold Arboretum Archives prior to publishing any quotations or images from materials in this collection.
Photocopies may be made at the discretion of the Arnold Arboretum Archives staff. Permission to make photocopies does not constitute permission to reproduce or publish materials outside the bounds of the fair use guidelines.

Biographical / Historical

Stephanne (Silvia) Barry Sutton was the author of a biography of the Arnold Arboretum's first director,Charles Sprague Sargent, and of the noted plant explorer, Joseph Rock, who had a long affiliation with the Arboretum. A writer of fiction as well as biography and history, Ms. Sutton was on the staff of the Arboretum from 1963 to 1974.
Born in Ohio in 1940, Sutton graduated from Wells College. After a brief stint at the United Nations in New York, she joined the Arboretum staff as an assistant to the director, Richard Howard. At Howard's request she wrote Charles Sprague Sargent and the Arnold Arboretum (Harvard University Press, 1970) in honor of the centennial of the Arboretum. She also wrote The Arnold Arboretum: the First Century, with a forward by Walter Muir Whitehill (Arnold Arboretum, 1971). As an Honorary Research Fellow of the Arboretum she researched the life and work of Joseph Rock which culminated in her book, In China's Border Provinces: the Turbulent Career of Joseph Rock, Botanist-Explorer (Hastings House, 1974).
Stephanne Sutton went on to write a history of Cambridge: Cambridge Reconsidered: 3 ½ Centuries on the Charles (M.I.T. Press, 1976). She wrote two institutional histories: The Massachusetts General Hospital, 1955-1980 (Little, Brown, 1983) and Crossroads in Psychiatry: A History of the McLean Hospital (American Psychiatric Association, 1986).
Her first novel, The Day the Televisions Stopped was published by Knopf in 1992. She died of cancer in 1997.


The collection is maintained in the order created by Stephanne Sutton.

Scope and Contents

During her eleven year career at the Arnold Arboretum, Stephanne Sutton held several titles, including Business Secretary from 1963-1964, Research Fellow from 1965-1967, Archivist in 1967-1969, and Honorary Research Fellow from 1970-1974. While Arboretum director Richard A. Howard was preparing for the upcoming centennial, he and Ms. Sutton decided to produce a biography of Charles S. Sargent. At that time, Sutton was appointed research fellow to write the book.
This collection consists of four archival boxes that span the years from 1965-1968, which primarily reflect Sutton's research for Sargent's biography. Included in the correspondence, 1965-1968, are letters on topics such as Sargent and Olmsted's "Boston Scheme," metropolitan parks, Wilson's expeditions, Sargent biographical material, and Arboretum institutional history. Sutton did extensive research in gathering material from primary sources, such as her letters to Katherine Bunker, who was secretary to Sargent and Wilson. In 1966 Ms. Sutton traveled to England to consult letters from Charles Sargent in the files of Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, the British Museum of Natural History, and at the Library of the Royal Horticultural Society. Her research resulted in many photocopies of Sargent's letters from institutions and individuals that have strengthened the historical correspondence collection of the Arnold Arboretum.
In addition to correspondence, the files include detailed notes on city parks, pre 1912 letters, Boston and the Arnold Arboretum, Kew Gardens of London, history of science, and the hurricane of 1938. There are a few letters that address institutional business that she answered as the Arboretum archivist. One box in the collection is devoted to drafts of the Sargent book from chapter 1-12.


Access to Finding Aid record in Hollis Classic or Hollis.


The following are common variations on J. F. Rock and Stephanne Sutton's names:

Other Finding Aids

Current version of this finding aid is available at the Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. Additional Stephanne (Silvia Barry) Sutton correspondence can be found by searching the Arnold Arboretum Correspondence Index.

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