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MC 419

Cambridge Plant and Garden Club. Records, 1889-1991: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America


Radcliffe College
December 1992

© 1992 Radcliffe College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 419
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Cambridge Plant and Garden Club
Title: Records, 1889-1991
Quantity: 18 1/2 file boxes, 1 supersize folder, 2 oversize folders, 3 folio+ folders, 3 folio folders, 1 carton color slides, 1 card file box, and audiovisual material.
Abstract: Reports, histories, photographs, color slides, etc., of the Cambridge Plant and Garden Club, one of the oldest garden clubs in the United States.

Processing Information:

Processed: December 1992
By: Jane S. Knowles

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 86-M62, 87-M26, 87-M157, 88-M11, 89-M90, 91-M210, 92-M159, 93-M7, 93-M12
These records were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Cambridge Plant and Garden Club beginning in April 1986.


Access.Researchers must obtain the prior written permission of the Cambridge Plant and Garden Club.

Use Restrictions:

Copyright. Copyright is retained by the Cambridge Plant and Garden Club.
Copying. Photocopying of papers in the collection requires the prior written permission of the Club. Reproduction of photographs requires the prior written permission of the photographer and whenever possible those photographed.

Preferred citation for publication:

Cambridge Plant and Garden Club. Records, 1889-1991; item description, dates. MC 419, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


The Cambridge Plant Club, originally known as the Floricultural Society, was founded in 1889 and was one of the earliest garden clubs formed in the United States. It was intended to be a club for women with an interest in the "serious study of horticulture." In 1966 the Cambridge Plant Club merged with the Cambridge Garden Club (which had been begun by younger, less-experienced gardeners in 1938) to form the Cambridge Plant and Garden Club (CPGC). Over time, the club's objectives have broadened to include the care and study of gardens and house plants, partici-pation in horticultural exhibitions, civic planting and landscaping projects in Cambridge, Mass., and action on behalf of local and global environmental concerns.
The club was accepted for membership in the Garden Club of America in 1968 and is affiliated with the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts. One of its past presidents was the landscape architect Lois Lilley Howe.
The club has received awards for its many urban beautification projects, including two awards from the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts (1952 and 1984), the Sears Roebuck award (1967), and the Founders Fund Award of the Garden Club of America (1980) for planting and restoration at Fresh Pond Reservation. The club's civic contributions were formally recognized by the City of Cambridge and the Massachusetts State Senate in 1989 on the occasion of the club's centennial.
Many individual club members and the club as a whole have won awards in the Masssachusetts Horticultural Society's Spring Flower Show and in the Garden Club of America flower arrangement competitions.
For further information on club history see the Timeline and Centennial history (#8).


The records of the CPGC have been divided into the following four series:
Series I, Anniversaries, awards, etc. (#1-28), consists of awards, photographs, programs, clippings, and other material documenting the celebrations of the club's anniversaries in 1939, 1949, 1959, 1964, and 1989; there are also research notes and photocopies of documents used in compiling the centennial history of the club, clippings about the club, and memorabilia.
Series II, Records (#29v-110), consists of minutes, committee reports, financial accounts, a few texts of talks, membership correspondence, obituaries, and clip-pings about members. These materials document the programs and activities of the CPGC and its predecessors, the Cambridge Plant Club (first known as the Floricultural Society) and the Cambridge Garden Club, from 1889 to the present.
Series III, Projects (#111-180+), consists of reports, correspondence, color slides and photographs describing the many civic and social causes for which the CPGC has worked or given funds. In the 1940s and 1950s, after World War II, the club undertook to send seeds to Czechoslovakia and England, fund horticultural therapy in Veterans' Administration hospitals, clean up the Old Burying Ground, and replant Cambridge Common.
There are designs, blueprints, reports, and awards that illustrate the continuous work of the CPGC since 1963 to reclaim, restore, and maintain many different sections of the Fresh Pond Reservation. There are also records of the CPGC's assistance with planning and maintenance of the Winthrop Square Park garden and its successful protest against development of a new garden and pump in Harvard Yard. There are designs, reports, and correspondence relating to historic garden restoration projects at Longfellow House and the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House, and descriptions and some designs for members' gardens in Cambridge and elsewhere (see #180+.)
Photographs, awards, correspondence, and designs demonstrate the frequent participation and success of the club in exhibitions at the New England Flower Shows, 1929-1965, and in the Garden Club of America's floral arrangement competitions.
The concern of some members of the club over nuclear disarmament, control of hazardous waste, and water pollution is seen in the activities of the Conservation Committee chaired by Frances Webb and in the newsletter, Conservation News and Action, edited by Dorothy Le Messurier, 1982-1989.
Series IV, Other associations (#181-205m), includes awards, publications, and programs of the Garden Club of America, and memorabilia, etc. of the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.



Additional catalog entries

Cambridge Plant and Garden Club
Eliot, Charles William, 1834-1926
Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts
Garden Club of America
Howe, Lois Lilley, 1864-1964
Manning, Warren H. (Warren Henry), 1860-
Massachusetts Horticultural Society
Steele, Fletcher
Cambridge Common (Cambridge, Mass.)
Cambridge (Mass.)-Clubs and societies
City planning-Massachusetts
Civic improvement-Massachusetts
Conservation of natural resources-Massachusetts-Citizen participation
Environmental protection-Massachusetts-Citizen participation
Flower arrangement shows-Massachusetts
Fresh Pond Reservation (Cambridge, Mass.)
Gardening-Massachusetts-Societies, etc.
Hazardous wastes-Massachusetts
Historic gardens-Massachusetts
Hooper-Lee-Nichols House-Cambridge (Mass.)
Horticultural exhibitions-Massachusetts
Land use-Massachusetts-Planning-Citizen participation
Landscape architects
Longfellow House-Cambridge (Mass.)
Women gardeners-Massachusetts