Scope and Contents note
The core of the collection consists of thousands of 35mm slide images photographed or amassed by Eleanor Weller. The latter come from numerous sources including books, magazines and archival repositories. The images document thousands of private gardens and public spaces (including parks, historic sites, and sculpture gardens) throughout the United States. Duplicates of a significant number of images from the Eleanor Weller Collection can be found in the GCA Collection at the Archives of American Gardens. There is also a smaller grouping of photographs of gardens by Weller. Complementing this collection of images are numerous vertical files with magazine and newspaper clippings and brochures, etc. relating to hundreds of public and private gardens in America. A significant number of the files relate to gardens profiled in the book co-authored by Weller, The Golden Age of American Gardens: Proud Owners, Private Estates, 1890-1940. The collection also includes correspondence regarding the recompilation of the Garden Club of America's collection of historic glass lantern slides as well as correspondence and research materials relating to the compilation of 35mm slides for the GCA's Slide Library of Notable American Parks and Gardens from both public and private sources.
Another portion of the collection documents the research and image compilation for The Golden Age of American Gardens manuscript. While similar in nature to the research materials relating to the GCA Slide Library, the portion of the collection encompassing the book's preparation represents a change in focus from collecting a representative sampling of 35mm slides for gardens throughout the U.S. to gathering specific high quality images intended for The Golden Age of American Gardens. This portion of the collection also contains a nearly complete draft of the manuscript as well as drafts of the footnotes and appendix. Because of the similar nature of the GCA Slide Library and The Golden Age of American Gardens book projects and the fact that they overlapped for a time, the files frequently intertwine closely. Some files identified with one project may include documents for the other project and visa versa. An example of this is seen in The Golden Age of American Gardens' Image Reference Files arranged according to Archival Repository. The files include packets from archival repositories throughout the U.S. with photocopies of select images in their collections. These images were used to facilitate both the selection of images for The Golden Age of American Gardens book project and the GCA Slide Library, and are occasionally annotated. In some cases, a review of both series may be necessary to ensure that relevant files are not overlooked.
Other noteworthy aspects of this collection are materials that deal with the origins and operations of the Smithsonian's Archives of American Gardens, including correspondence regarding one of its future collections, The Chimneys Collection. Also present are several slide scripts corresponding with the GCA's historic glass lantern slide collection, as well as materials in the GCA Slide Library (now the Garden Club of America Collection).
It should be noted that while the creator of this collection is Eleanor Weller, significant portions of the files relating to the GCA Slide Library and The Golden Age of American Gardens were compiled by Helen Rollins in her position as research assistant for The Golden Age book project. It is possible, although not conclusive, that Rollins was also responsible for the files in The Golden Age of American Gardens' Image Reference Files arranged by state.
Lastly, the collection includes contemporary color photographs of historic sites and gardens taken by Richard Marchand. Weller had previously worked with Marchand, the donor of the Richard Marchand Historical Postcard Collection at the Archives of American Gardens, to compile historic garden images for the GCA Slide Library.