Scope and Contents note
This material consists primarily of illustrated catalogues, bills/receipts, price lists, printed advertisements, advertising cards, almanacs, business cards, circulars, scattered correspondence on letterhead stationery, lithographs, seed packages, pamphlets and guides from companies involved in the seed industry and trade. These businesses include seed growers, merchants, nurseries, seed auctioneers, importers and exporters. The majority of these companies sold various types of field, garden and farm seeds mostly consisting of vegetables, flowers, fruits and herbs. Other types of seeds are bird and grass seeds. Bulbs, plants, gardening books, roses, ornamental trees, poultry food, shrubbery, fertilizers, agricultural and horticultural implements and machinery were also available. The agricultural and horticultural implements and machinery consist of ladies' and children's garden tools, hand weeders, seed sowers, horse hoes, eed drills, potato beetle destroyers, self-heating, soldering irons, showers, garden pumps, syringes, plant stakes, garden trellises, sun dials, pruners, fumigators, lawn mowers, knives, trowels, manure forks, furnaces, boilers, plows, harrows, wheelbarrows and corn planters. Diary implements such as thermometers, lactometers and scales appear occasionally.
There are a number of images included among these materials. The majority of these images are in catalogues illustrating fruits, vegetables and flowers. Seed packages are also profusely illustrated with products. Advertising cards generally depict products in a humorous setting. The most famous of these images are the vegetable people. Vegetables, fruits and flowers are depicted as people with such names as Miss Celery, Mr. Potato and Miss Carrot. Harvey Bros., R. D. Hawley, J. M. Phillips & Sons, Price & Knickerbocker, Jerome B. Rice, Charles Saul and Saul & Davis are among some of the businesses which used these advertising cards to sell their products. The subject category fertilizers also has some vegetable and fruit people. These vegetable people tend to use stereotypical images of various ethnic groups such as Native Americans as corn and African Americans as cotton.
Materials from associations and horticultural organizations such as the Luther Burbank Society are also included. Most of this material consists of membership information, pamphlets and monographs. Although most of the Luther Burbank Society's monographs discuss issues relating to the cultivation of plants, there are a number of these publications concerning what the society calls the "improvement of the human plant." Published in 1914, the monographs were not available for sale, instead they were issued to members of the Burbank society and to others only upon recommendation of members. Consisting of twelve titles in the series, which were issued monthly, topics included the laws of heredity, nurture versus nature, choosing children, bringing up the normal child, what to do with the sub-normal child, mental hygiene, the racial melting pot and the criminal type.
Most of the materials are organized by name of company and are in boxes one through eighteen. Generally publications and dates are listed under the company names. This does not imply that there are no other materials from that particular company. Box nineteen contains information on associations primarily the Burbank Society materials. Miscellaneous materials are also in box nineteen. These materials include information on fruit tree spraying, tree planting and Arbor Day, greenhouse heating and ventilating apparatus and general images. Related publications such as articles, booklets, pamphlets and books are found in boxes twenty through twenty-one. Such publications discuss topics relating to house plants, window gardens, food for plants, economic grasses, information on fertilizers and herbicides, evergreens in Scotland, flower gardens for country homes, chrysanthemums, common trees of New York and ornamental trees. These publications could not be identified with a company or association name and therefore are grouped together.