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Philadelphia Flower Show minute books and financial records


Held at: Pennsylvania Horticultural Society [Contact Us]McLean Library, 100 N. 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19103

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Philadelphia Flower Show’s history extends back to 1829, when the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) hosted its first public horticultural exhibition in Masonic Hall on Chestnut Street, called the “Spring Flower Show.” Three years later, in 1832, PHS hosted the first fall “Harvest Show.” The Harvest Show (at times called the “Autumnal Exhibit”) immediately became an annual event. In addition, from time to time, PHS hosted or participated in daffodil, rose, peony and other flower shows.

The exhibitions were both large and small, and at times competitive. The Spring Flower Show, which was initially held intermittently, was an annual event by 1871. In the beginning, amateur gardeners dominated the exhibitions. By the 1870s, however, the show’s participants were almost exclusively commercial growers, and a few years after that, the professional gardeners hired by the wealthy dominated the show. In 1919, James Boyd, who had recently been made president of PHS, was determined to recapture the show from the professionals. In order to do so, Boyd forged an alliance with the Flower Show of the Main Line and established an Activities Committee that developed classes and other programs for members of local area garden clubs.

In 1924, PHS joined with the Florist Club, an association of commercial growers, and in 1925, the two organizations jointly put on the first official Philadelphia Flower Show. The show was a huge success, attracting 84,000 people. In 1927, Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc., a professional group of nurserymen and growers, was established, and it managed the Flower Show until the mid 1960s. Though it remained involved in the production of the Flower Show, PHS benefited little, financially, from this arrangement.

In 1964, Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc., because of difficulties locating an exhibition space, decided to halt production of the show for two years. PHS, under the direction of Ernesta D. Ballard, feeling that yearly continuity of the show was necessary, hosted the show that year in the 23rd Street Armory. In 1966, the show was moved to the Civic Center and in 1968 PHS became the show's official producer. In 1996, the Flower Show moved to its current annual location in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The Philadelphia Flower Show has grown to be the world's largest indoor flower exhibition. In 2010, the exhibition encompassed 33 acres of space and drew over 250,000 visitors.


Peeples, Edwin A. “Summary for a Sesqui.” Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Philadelphia: 1977.

Philadelphia International Flower Show. “Timeline of the Flower Show’s International Highlights.” Accessed October 13, 2010.

This is a collection of minute books and finance books of the Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc., from its inception in 1927 to 1996.The collection includes the charter and bylaws of the organization; minutes of monthly, annual and special meetings; correspondence and a small number of legal documents; investments and income reports; receipts and expenditures; and auditor’s reports.

The minute books date from 1927 to 1996, and are arranged chronologically. There are three volumes. The earlier minutes document monthly meetings between 1927 and the mid-1960s. They record the planning of the yearly Flower Show, featuring reports from various committees such as the Hall Plan, the Rose Exhibit, Private Growers, Jurors, Budget and Advertising, and Music committees. Discussions include what type of music was to be provided (such as MUZAK or an orchestra), what type of exhibits were to be held, and prize denominations. Of interest are the minutes from 1964, when the Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc. discussed cancelling the show because of the lack of exhibition space and funding. The minutes portray the dismay of many of the members regarding the cancelation of the show. They also reveal the transition of the management of the Philadelphia Flower Show from the Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc. to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Minutes from the mid-1960s and later discuss other activities of the group, primarily the plan to build a new Horticultural Hall in Fairmount Park.

There are a few emails from 2004 tipped into the minute book dated 1964 to 1996.

The finance books consist of four volumes that are arranged chronologically. There are three volumes of reports compiled by Herr and Herr, Public Accountants. These volumes date from 1930 to 1977; however, there is no record for the years 1943 to 1949. The reports include information on filed taxes, receipts, expenditures, petty cash, and auditor’s reports. The fourth volume, titled "Philadelphia Flower Show Inc., Investments and Income There from,” contains information on various investments owned by Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc. The volume dates from 1939 to 1991

The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.

This collection was minimally processed in 2009-2011, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.

Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article, More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections, the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages, in 23 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 2-3 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections, replace acidic folders or complete any preservation work.

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Megan Atkinson and Christiana Dobrzynski Grippe
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Archives with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.

Collection Inventory

Minute book, 1927-1948.
Box 1 Folder 1
Minute book, 1946-1964.
Box 1 Folder 2
Minutes book with printed emails tipped in, 1964-1996, 2004.
Box 1 Folder 3
Financial records: Cash book, 1927-1928.
Volume 1
Financial records: Cash receipts and cash disbursements, circa 1965-1995.
Volume 2
Financial records: Investments and Income, 1939-1991.
Volume 3
Financial records: Ledger, 1927-1929.
Volume 4
Financial records: Ledger, 1929-1934.
Volume 5
Financial records: Ledger, 1930-1931.
Volume 6
Financial records: Ledger, 1932-1933.
Volume 7
Financial records: Ledger, 1933-1936.
Volume 8
Financial records: Ledger, 1953-1955.
Volume 9
Financial records: Tax information compiled by Herr and Herr, Public Accountants, 1930-1943.
Box 2 Folder 1
Financial records: Tax information compiled by Herr and Herr, Public Accountants, 1949-1967.
Box 2 Folder 2
Financial records: Tax information compiled by Herr and Herr, Public Accountants, 1968-1977.
Box 2 Folder 3
Financial records: [Trial balance and ledger], circa 1955-1978.
Volume 10
Framed charter and by-laws, circa 1927.
Frame 1
Embosser (2), undated.

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