Boston Parks Department. Records of the Boston Parks Department,
Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
© 2003 The President and Fellows of Harvard College
Last update 2016 June 16
Repository: Arnold Arboretum Archives of Harvard University, Jamaica Plain, MA
Call No.: I A-6
Creator: Boston Parks Department
Quantity: 0.33 Linear Feet (1 Box)
Access to Finding Aid record in Hollis Classic or Hollis.
Current version of this finding aid is available at the Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard
Processed by: Lisa Pearson
In 1872 it was proposed that the Arboretum be combined with the Boston Parks System,
with the hope that the lands would be protected from encroachment, taxation and
seizure by eminent domain. These records were created as a result of the Arboretum's
involvement in that process. The HOLLIS # for this collection is 008911492 and the
file name is ajp00034.
Researchers seeking to examine archival materials are strongly encouraged to make
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.
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.
The Arnold Arboretum was founded in 1872 according to the will of James Arnold on
land willed to the Harvard College by Benjamin Bussey. Very soon after, the director
Charles S. Sargent engaged Frederick Law Olmsted to begin planning the design of the
grounds. At the same time it was proposed that the Arboretum be combined with the
Boston Parks System, with the hope that the lands would be protected from
encroachment, taxation and seizure by eminent domain. The plan was approved by the
Boston City Council in December 1881 and ratified by the Boston parks commissioners
and the president of Harvard College in 1882. The plan called for the College to
sign the title of the land over to the City of Boston and the City to lease the land
back to Harvard for $1 per year for 1000 years with the lease renewable at that
time. The City retained lease to the land that was to be made into the Arboretum
driveways. They also agreed to spend $75,000 to construct those driveways. They were
to provide policing and promised not to tax the lands or allow any encroachments on
the property. Harvard agreed to maintain the Arnold and Bussey trusts, maintain the
living collections and open the grounds to the public at reasonable times.
The bulk of the materials consist of administrative papers relating to the
interaction between the Arnold Arboretum and the Boston Parks Department, including
general correspondence, and correspondence relating to the acquisition of the South
Street tract and the installation of donations canisters. In addition there are
several folders of copies of historical papers, including a copy of the indenture
1882 between the City and Harvard College
- Series: I: Correspondence
Correspondence mainly between the Directors of the Arnold Arboretum,
Karl Sax, and Richard A.
Howard, and the Commissioners of the Boston Park Department,
who where John J. Murphy until 1949, Frank R.
Kelley until 1957, Martin F. Walsh until
1963, William J. Devine until 1967, John J.
Tierney until 1970, Joseph E. Curtis
until 1974, Anthony Forgione until 1975, Peter Meade
- Folder 1: 1948-1950.
- Correspondence between Karl Sax and John J. Murphy, then
Frank R. Kelley.
Content includes building a road, specifically to the top of Peter's
Hill, snow removal at the Arnold Arboretum, repairing macadam paths
at the Arnold Arboretum, signage, dealing with drought, and
- Folder 2: 1951-1955.
- Correspondence between Karl Sax and Frank R.
Content includes fences in and around the Arnold Arboretum, signage,
a road to the top of Peters Hill, parking permits, the removal of
some Dutch Elm Disease infected Elms, the
building of a garage on Walter St., keeping arboretum gates locked
and in good condition, and other general maintenance needs.
- Correspondents include Casey, Kelley, O'Keefe, Pigeon, Sax,
1 letter from Thomas F. Casey of the Boston Police Department to Sax
concerning the policing of the Arnold Arboretum after dark, 1 letter
from Kelley to Rose Dopoyan of Milton High School and 1 letter from
Kelley to E. F. Pigeon of Medford High School, both granting
permission to park a bus in the arboretum parking lot, and 1 letter
from Arthur J. O'Keefe to Lazella Schwarten of
the Herbarium and Library in Cambridge concerning the naming of
- Folder 3: 1957-1965.
- Correspondence between Howard and Kelley, then Walsh, then
Content includes repairing benches, persecuting plant thieves, times
that the gates are locked, driving permits, illegal dumping in the
Arnold Arboretum, a memorial to Grace S.
Batchelder, the Arnold Arboretum becoming a
National Historic Site, and vandalism within
the grounds. 1 letter from Kelley to captain John F. McElhinney of
the Boston Police Department concerning police protection of the
Arnold Arboretum, 1 letter to Howard from Joseph F. McLaughlin,
Editor of "Tell it to Joe" concerning a complaint about cars in the
Arnold Arboretum and 1 response to him from Howard, 2 letters from
devine to Truman W. Eustis III regarding money
left for the Arnold Arboretum in the will of Grace S. Batchelder, 1
letter from Howard to Edwin W. Small concerning the Arnold Arboretum
becoming a National Historic Site.
- Folder 4: 1966-1970.
- Correspondence between Howard and Devine, then Howard and
Tierney in 1967, then Curtis in 1970.
Contents include vandalism by the "Shot Brothers," putting in a fence
to keep out trash, lewd conduct of drivers within the Arnold
Arboretum, a gift of spruce trees given by Peter L.
Hornbeck, repairing or replacing the Arborway
entrance, Arboretum Visiting Committee meeting,
disposing of debris, parking permits, general maintenance of paths,
roads, fences, gates, signs and water sources, protection of
visitors and their property, 1 letter from Devine to Captain
Cornelius F. O'Brien concerning vandalism at the Arnold Arboretum, 1
letter from Mayor of Boston John F. Collins to Howard and 1 response
letter from Howard regarding the development of an Anti-Poverty
Program, 1 letter from Peter L. Hornbeck, Assistant Professor of
Landscape Architecture to Tierney, 1 letter from John J. Tierney to
F. B. Jackson concerning a new service building.
- Folder 5: 1971-1977.
- Correspondents include Cosgrove, Howard, Leahy,
1 letter from Marti F. Cosgrove, chief engineer, to Howard concerning
a guard rail along the street, 1 letter from Howard to Mr. Donald C.
Moulton concerning building a pedestrian walkway, 1 letter from
Howard to Dean Richard Leahy concerning repairs
to driveways, paths, fences, and gates.
- Folder 6: 1978-1983.
- Correspondents include Ashton, Berenson, Howard, Marks, Shaw,
Correspondence between Howard and Robert G.
Stone, then Peter S. Ashton and
O. M. Shaw,Paul F. Perkins,Wendy Marks, and Paul S.
- Series: III: Administrative Papers
- Folder 2: Contract and specifications for grading for the Arnold
- South Street Tract
- Folder 1: Acquisition of the South Street Tract, 1992-1995,
correspondence, maps and proposals
- Folder 1: Voluntary admissions canisters, 1979-1983, correspondence,
- General Reports & Records
- Folder 1: Report of the Common Council on the Arnold Arboretum, 1881,
- Folder 2: Petition of the Taxpayers of Boston for the Arnold Arboretum,
- Folder 3: Indenture between the City of Boston and Harvard College,
- Folder 4: Landscape restoration of the Olmsted Parks, 1995
- Folder 5: Rules and guides, n.d.
- Folder 6: General papers, 1892-1990