Maida Babson Adams American garden collection,
circa 1960-1994
AAG.ADM

Summary
Collection ID:
AAG.ADM
Creators:
Adams, Molly, 1918-2003
Dates:
circa 1960-1994
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
Photographic prints :
color ;
4 x 6 inches.
Photographic prints :
black and white ;
8 x 10 inches.
Photographic prints :
black and white ;
3 1/2 x 5 inches.
Negatives :
black & white ;
4 x 5 inches.
Film transparencies :
color ;
4 x 5 inches.
Contact sheets :
black and white.
35mm slides (photographs) :
color ;
2 x 2 inches.
35mm negatives :
color.
120mm transparencies :
color ;
2 x 2 inches.
120mm negatives :
black and white ;
2 x 2 inches.
Repository:
Archives of American Gardens
The Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection documents the work of Molly Adams, a free-lance garden photographer who photographed hundreds of private and public gardens, many of them in the mid-Atlantic region, from the late 1950s through the mid-1990s. It includes slides, photographic prints, negatives and transparencies. A significant number of images document the work of landscape designers Nelva M. Weber, Alice Recknagel Ireys, and Friede Stege. Roughly 50 gardens do not have an identified location. Some images have captions and other information written on them.

Scope and Contents Note
Scope and Contents Note
The Maida Babson Adams American Gardens Collection includes images of close to 400 gardens photographed by Molly Adams from the 1950s to the 1990s. Although most images document gardens in New Jersey, the collection also includes gardens in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania. While the vast majority of gardens in the collection are private, there are also some public gardens and venues like the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in New Jersey, the International Flower Show in New York City, and the White House in Washington, D.C. A number of gardens were photographed during organized garden or horticultural tours or annual meetings of the Garden Club of America. A significant number of images document the work of landscape designers Alice Ireys, Nelva Weber, and Friede Stege. Approximately 85 gardens in the collection are unidentified as to their location and/or client. Relatively few images are captioned or dated; Adams often labeled a film envelope or back of a photograph or contact sheet with just a client surname and the designer (if it was Ireys, Weber, or Stege). In some cases, additional information about a garden’s location or owner’s full name was gleaned from the finding aids for the Alice Recknagel Ireys Papers or the Nelva Weber Papers. Some images were accompanied by clippings from newspapers or magazines that featured one or more related images by Adams; most of these clippings date from the 1950s and 1960s. There is also a file of general clippings of Adams’ work; many of these do not identify the garden that is shown.
Most of the images are black and white, though there are a number taken in color. Adams’ contact sheets and photo envelopes were sometimes marked with cropping marks or photo developing notes respectively.

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
Molly (Maida Babson) Adams (1918 - 2003) had a 40+ year career as a nationally recognized free-lance garden and wildlife photographer and conservationist. Her images were published under the name “Molly Adams.” Adams was born in Orange, New Jersey and lived over fifty years in Mendham Township, New Jersey. As a teenager she became interested in photography; she later attended the New York Institute of Photography and became a member of the New York Camera Club.
Her photographs were featured in numerous newspapers and magazines including the “New York Times,” “New York Herald Tribune,” “House Beautiful,” “Horticulture,” “Home Garden,” and “Audubon.” During the Kennedy administration, she photographed the White House Rose Garden; these photographs were later published in “Flower Grower.”
Adams provided hundreds of photographs for “How to Plan and Plant Your Own Property” (1967) by landscape architect Alice Recknagel Ireys and “How to Plan Your Own Home Landscape” (1976) by landscape designer Nelva M. Weber. Her images were also published in books including “The Reader’s Digest Practical Guide to Home Landscaping,” and “The Complete Illustrated Book of Garden Magic.” Adams also occasionally wrote garden-themed articles. A longtime member in the Somerset Hills (NJ) Garden Club, which is part of the Garden Club of America, Adams once served as the latter’s official photographer.
In the 1960’s Adams’ photographs drew attention to conservation issues related to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern New Jersey. These widely publicized photographs rallied public support against the proposed destruction of the Great Swamp for the construction of an airport. Adams was also active as a member of the Mendham Township Environmental Commission and the North Jersey Conservation Foundation. In the 1980’s she was awarded the Buckley Medal of Merit for Horticultural Achievement by the Garden Club of America for her photographs used in the postcard campaign “Save Our Vanishing Wild Flowers.”

Administration
Separated Materials Note
The North Jersey History & Genealogy Center at The Morristown & Morris Township Library in New Jersey has a collection of images by Molly Adams showcasing nature scenes and birds.
Author
Finding aid prepared by Meaghan McCarthy
Immediate Source of Acquisition Note
Adams' family donated her collection of garden images to the Smithsonian's Archives of American Gardens after her death in 2003.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
Access to original images by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: aag@si.edu.
Conditions Governing Use note
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens.
Preferred Citation note
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American garden collection.

Related Archival Materials Note
The Alice Recknagel Ireys Papers in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, include photographs by Molly Adams.
The Nelva Weber Papers in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections at Cornell University Library in Ithaca, New York, likely include photographs by Molly Adams.

Custodial History Note
Custodial History Note
Molly Adams’ image collection was sorted and arranged by a member of the Garden Club of America prior to its being donated to the Archives of American Gardens in 2003. A group of images showcasing nature scenes and birds was donated to the North Jersey History & Genealogy Center at The Morristown & Morris Township Library in New Jersey. The Archives of American Gardens received the remaining body of images featuring gardens arranged according to client or garden name.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ireys, Alice Recknagel, 1911-2000 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stege, Friede Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Weber, Nelva M. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Black-and-white negatives Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Black-and-white photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Color negatives Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Color photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Contact sheets Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Film transparencies Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gardens--Connecticut Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gardens--Massachusetts Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gardens--New Jersey Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gardens--New York (State) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gardens--Pennsylvania Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gardens--United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Negatives Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographic prints Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Slides (photographs) Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Gardens
P.O. Box 37012
Capital Gallery, Suite 3300, MRC 506
Washington, DC, 20013-7012
Phone: 202-633-5840
aag@si.edu