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New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill: Seed Catalogs

Digitized resources, archival and special collections, exhibitions, and other items of interest.

Seed Catalog Collection at New England Botanic Garden

New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill has a collection of early seed catalogs including an assortment of 19th and early 20th century examples. Our earliest catalog is from 1853 with many pre-1920. Seed and nursery catalogs provide a wonderful glimpse into the early marketing and availability of fruits, flowers and vegetables. Some of our catalogs can be found in the Biodiversity Heritage Library Seed & Nursery Catalogs collection.

Seed Catalog History

Connect to an online exhibit on the history of Seed & Nursery Catalogs created by Oregon State University Library.

Vick's Floral Guide, 1895

Vick's Floral Guide, 1895. By James Vick, Rochester NY 

Early seedsmen like James Vick (1818-1882) caught onto the growing interest middle class Americans in the later part of the 19th century found in cultivating lawns and gardens. He provided the means for his readers to learn about gardening in his catalogs, offering inspiration, instruction and even spiritual guidance as in a 1873 catalog: "Man may be refined and happy without a garden; he may even have a home of taste, I suppose, without a tree, or shrub, or flower; yet, when the Creator wished to prepare a proper home for man, pure in all his taste and made in his own image, he planted a garden and placed this noblest specimen of creative power in it to dress and keep it."

Links to other Seed Catalog Resources

Biodiversity Heritage Library Seed & Nursery Catalogs:

The Biodiversity Heritage Library's Catalog of Seed and & Nursery Catalogs is a great place to search for digitized catalogs.

Other large collections of seed catalogs may be found in the following libraries:

This guide provided by CBHL