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Grounds subject files

Identifier: CA-MS-00137

Scope and Contents

The Grounds subject files contain materials describing the history of the campus as a botanic garden and the changes to the master plan, lists of plantings and specimen placement, as well as information regarding the physical features of the campus, such as Paradise Pond, and structures and memorial pieces such as the Grecourt Gates and Lanning fountain. Types of materials include photographs, color plate plant ilustrations, newspaper clippings, maps, pamphlets, plant lists, and letters to institutions about plant and seed exchanges and other matters.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1879 - 2021


Conditions Governing Access

The records are open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Smith College, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

In 1892, plans designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted were adopted by President Seelye to turn the Smith College campus into a single large botanic garden, labeling all trees and shrub for aesthetic and educational purposes. Francis Ganong was appointed the first director of the Botanic Garden in 1894, and a systematics garden, based on the theories of Adolf Engler and Karl Prantl was added to the plan under Ganong's direction. The master plan has undergone numerous changes, including new systems of walkways and lawns, the expansion of the Lyman Plant House, the construction of a Japanese tea hut and garden, and the reorganization of the herbaceous garden according to more current evolutionary theories.


1 website

90.041 linear feet (112 containers)

Language of Materials



The Grounds subject files contain information relating to the history, composition, and physical features of the Smith College campus, including the Botanic Gardens and the Genetic Experiment Station.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Grounds subject files were created by the various departments and donated to the College Archives.


4 boxes (3.687 linear feet) of clippings and pamphlets relating to gardening topics and student papers (approximately 1920s-1970s) were removed from the collection in March 2023. UMass publications were given to UMass and the remainder was discarded.

Related Materials

  1. Researchers should also view:
  2. ___22. Buildings Subject Files, Lyman Plant House
  3. ___Rolland and Towers Master Landscape Plan for Smith College located in "Landscape master plan, 1994 - 1996"

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. A full crosswalk of old to new numbers is available.

Finding aid to the Grounds subject files
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Tiffany Tawzer; Ellice Amanna; Scott Biddle
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2018-11-05: Finding aid updated as part of the College Archives Survey
  • 2019-05: Archived website added
  • 2019-11-26: Boxes added, barcodes, finding aid updated
  • 2020-06-30: Added 46 flat file folders
  • 2022-04-11: Added Accession 2022-A-0037 and 2022-A-0038
  • 2022-04-19: Added Accession 2022-A-0041

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063