The prospect of a new MA course in garden history, alongside the IHR’s short course in Garden history and the History of Gardens and Landscapes seminar prompted us to write a guide to garden history resources in the IHR library. Although not a core specialism of the library, we were surprised by the range of material available within our collections of primary source material.
Our holdings contain a vast array of letters, diaries and travel writing, rich with descriptions of gardens, the way they were used and the role of landscape architects and gardens. We hold a series of the Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted the designer of Central Park in New York, and English sources such as Horace Walpole’s correspondence, Humphry Repton’s Memoirs and the Letters of Uvedale Price. Travel accounts cover all areas of the world, including Australia, China, the West Indies and many areas of Europe.
Our parliamentary sources and other local administrative records give an insight into such areas as disputes over boundaries and legislation around public parks. Trade directories and C19th exhibition catalogues include information about the gardening trade, with details about market gardens and supply chains, tools, equipment and employment. We also hold a small collection of maps and topographical drawings. These sources are alongside our strong collection of reference works: bibliographies, biographical material and historical methods and guides. The library acts as a good starting point for research complementing the more specialist archives and libraries elsewhere.
The Garden History in the IHR library subject guide is available here.