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IV A-1 AF

Alfred J. Fordham, (1911-2000) Papers: Guide.

Archives of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University

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The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Archives.
Call No.: IV A-1 AF
Repository: Archives of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University
Creator: Fordham, Alfred J. (1911-2000)
Title: Alfred J. Fordham, (1911-2000) Papers: Guide.
Date(s): 1943-2000
Quantity: 0.67 linear feet
Abstract: Fordham's father was the superintendent of the R and J Farquhar Company, a leading nursery and importer of rare plants that were introduced by Charles Sargent and E. H. Wilson. Following the advice of his father and E.H. Wilson, Al Fordham came directly to the Arnold Arboretum as a student trainee in 1929. He would continue his association with the Arboretum until his retirement in 1977, rising to the position of chief propagator. Known unofficially as "The Propagator's Propagator," Fordham became a nationally and internationally recognized plant propagator. Mr. Fordham continued his involvement in plant propagation research, and continued to share his knowledge through giving talks on horticultural subjects until his death in December, 2000. The Alfred J. Fordham papers reflect his contribution to horticulture and botany as a plant propagator, lecturer, teacher, and author of over 50 published papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Provenance: In large part the Alfred J. Fordham Papers were acquired during Mr. Fordham's tenure at the Arnold Arboretum. Some of the items were given to the Arboretum after Mr. Fordham's retirement.

Processing Information:

Mary Harrison, Carol David, and Sheila Connor, June 1995. Revised December 12, 2000, Joseph Melanson. 2004, Sheila Connor. Finding aid template applied March 2011, Kayleigh Hinckley.

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 Note

Alfred J. Fordham was born January 22, 1911, in Roslindale, Massachusetts. The second of four children, Fordham was the son of Patrick William and Sarah Ellen Fordham. His early childhood was spent his Dedham, Massachusetts and he graduated from Dedham High School in 1929. Fordham's father was the superintendent of the R and J Farquhar Company, a leading nursery and importer of rare plants that were introduced by Charles Sargent and E. H. Wilson. Following the advice of his father and E.H. Wilson, Al Fordham came directly to the Arnold Arboretum as a student trainee in 1929. He would continue his association with the Arboretum until his retirement in 1977, rising to the position of chief propagator. While a student trainee Al Fordham continued his education at night school and studied mathematics, science and other subjects relevant to horticulture. His talents were quickly recognized and he was appointed assistant propagator in 1930. Although Mr. Fordham never received a formal degree in horticulture, he was a productive researcher and widely published author. He also took many extension courses at Massachusetts's universities and was an exchange student at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in England in 1936-37. Mr. Fordham came to specialize in plant propagation. He focused on the study of dwarf and abnormal conifers, particularly seedlings raised from witches' broom seeds of various species of pines. Fordham studied barriers to germination of woody plants, seed dispersal, and techniques to speed up germination. He published more than 50 articles on plant propagation in various journals, and became a popular lecturer. Known unofficially as "The Propagator's Propagator," Fordham became a nationally and internationally recognized plant propagator. In 1971 he received the prestigious International Plant Propagators Society Award of Merit, given at irregular intervals to individuals whose work is considered especially significant. He received numerous other awards as well.
Mr. Fordham was also an accomplished clarinetist, and played in several orchestra concerts and bands. He had aspired to be a musician as a youth, before finding his calling at the Arnold Arboretum. Alfred Fordham married Mary E. Redmayne in 1939, and had one daughter. He lived in Westwood for many years, where he tended an extensive garden and well-appointed yard. Mr. Fordham continued his involvement in plant propagation research, and continued to share his knowledge through giving talks on horticultural subjects until his death in December, 2000.
In addition to his papers the Arboretum maintains a collection of his 33mm color slides. The Alfred J. Fordham Slide Collection is curated by the Living Collections Department.

Arrangement

The Alfred J. Fordhan collection is organized in 4 series:

Scope and Contents

The Alfred J. Fordham papers reflect his contribution to horticulture and botany as a plant propagator, lecturer, teacher, and author of over 50 published papers. The collection covers Fordham's arrival at the Arboretum in 1929 at the age of 18 and includes correspondence from the 1960s to the 1980s, primarily concerned with plant propagation issues specific to various species. Biographical information is included, but there are few details of Fordham's personal life or early education and how he became a student at the Arnold Arboretum. The Fordham papers also include publications, newspaper clippings, letters of recommendation and a cassette tape interview.

General

Access to Finding Aid record in Hollis Classic or Hollis.

Other Finding Aids

Current version of this finding aid is available at the Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.

Container List


ajp00060