Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Public Relations and Marketing Department image collection
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 Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) was America’s first horticultural society, formed in 1827 as a not-for-profit membership organization. Since its founding, PHS has hosted wide-ranging activities in the name of promoting horticulture and to beautify Philadelphia, with a goal to realize William Penn’s founding vision for the city to be a “greene countrie towne.” The Public Relations and Marketing Department promotes the activities supported by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
The Harvest Show was held in the fall and was a significantly smaller event that the spring Flower Show.
The Junior Flower Show is held in the spring and receives numerous entries in the artistic and horticultural classes. Schools enter presentation boards which detail classroom projects related to the theme of the show. Youth are awarded ribbons for Best of Show winners. Artistic classes for the Junior Flower Show have included crafty creatures, table setting arrangements, bird feeders, seed mosaics, and jewelry, while the horticulture classes have included blooming flowering plants, foliage plants, container-grown vegetables, cactus and succulents, herbs, hanging baskets, dish gardens, terrariums and more.
The Philadelphia Flower Show is the world’s largest indoor flower exhibition and, as of 2010, encompasses thirty-three acres and draws over 250,000 visitors annually. The Philadelphia Flower Show was first held in 1829. From 1927 until the mid 1960s, management of the Flower Show was under the auspices of the Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc., a professional group of nurserymen and growers. In 1964, Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc. decided to halt production of the show for two years because of difficulties locating an exhibition space. Under the direction of Ernesta D. Ballard, who felt that yearly continuation of the show was necessary, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society hosted the show in the 23rd Street Armory. In 1966, the show moved to the Civic Center, and in 1968, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society became the show’s official producer.
Throughout the twentieth century, PHS’s activities focused on planting gardens throughout the city and involving the community at large. In 1953, PHS planted the azalea garden in Fairmount Park and presented it to the city. In 1974, it established the Community Vegetable Garden Program, encouraging people to make productive use of vacant lots in their neighborhoods. This program eventually evolved into the nationally regarded Philadelphia Green, which supports the development and ongoing care of community gardens, neighborhood parks and high-profile public green spaces in Philadelphia. In 1975, PHS launched the City Gardens Contest, in which Philadelphia residents compete in several gardening categories, including flower gardens, vegetable gardens, combination gardens, container gardens, children's gardens, parks, garden blocks, greenest block in town, and urban farm.
The Society has offered lectures and workshops, published the magazine Green Scene, and hosted the yearly Philadelphia Flower Show.
Ball, Liz. “A Celebrated History: 175 Years of Philadelphia Horticultural Society.” Green Scene, December 2002, pp. 8-14.
Ball, Liz. “Growing Bigger and Better by Year.” Pennsylvania Heritage, Spring 2001.
Peeples, Edwin A. “Summary for a Sesqui.” Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Philadelphia: 1977.
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) Public Relations and Marketing Department image collection consists largely of slides that were used for fundraising, marketing and promoting the PHS. This collection is arranged into six series: “Administrative operations,” “Harvest Show,” “Junior Flower Show,” Philadelphia Flower Show,” “Philadelphia Green,” and “Miscellaneous.
The “Administrative operations” images document the operation of the PHS. Included are meetings; council; events; the Azalea Garden Party, a fundraising effort; staff; and other people involved in the PHS. Of particular interest in this series are the slideshows, which include the slides used in presentations, as well as the scripts that narrate the presentation. It appears that these slideshows were available for use by PHS members. This series is arranged in alphabetical order.
The “Harvest Show” images date from 1977 to 1995, with images from 1981 missing. These images generally document the event, focusing on individual displays, activities, set-up, and people involved in the show. These folders are arranged chronologically.
Images in the “Junior Flower Show” series date from 1981 to 1995, however, there are no images from 1986. These folders, arranged chronologically, document the Junior Flower Show generally, and focus on individual displays, activities, set-up, and people involved in the show.
The “Philadelphia Flower Show” is the most heavily documented series in this collection. Images date from 1958 to 2004, with slides of historical images, the originals of which date from 1867. While the vast majority of this series is slides, there are also contact sheets, negatives and prints. The series beautifully documents the Flower Show generally, and in some years, the photographs focus also on awards; arrangement, artistic and competitive classes; and additional events related to the Flower Show such as preview dinners and summer parties. A particularly interesting folder in this series includes the slides shot during the set-up of the 1998 Flower Show. This series is arranged in chronological order.
“Philadelphia Green” images document the numerous programs which are run by Philadelphia Green. Included are the City Gardens Contest, the City Hall Planting, community gardens, and vacant lands, as well as singular events which took place at Eastern State Penitentiary, Francisville, Strawberry Mansion, and Norris Square, to name only a few. These images date from 1979 to 2005 and are arranged in alphabetical order.
The last series in this collection includes “Miscellaneous images.” In most cases, these images are unidentified and/or have incomplete information regarding their origin. However, researchers should be aware that these images could probably be identified via cross-checking other collections at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Whenever possible, dates of images are recorded. The series is arranged alphabetically.
This collection will be of great value to researchers interested in the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Harvest Show, the Junior Flower Show, the Philadelphia Flower Show and Philadelphia Green. In addition, researchers interested in the administrative workings of a horticultural organization, as well as the efforts made to raise awareness of an organization will find this collection to be very useful.
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.
- Public relations
- Land use, Urban
- Flower shows
- Community gardens
- Urban beautification
- Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Holly Mengel
- Finding Aid Date
- 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.