The Thomas Warren Sears Photograph Collection documents examples of the design work of Thomas Warren Sears (1880-1966), a landscape architect and amateur photographer from Brookline, Massachusetts. Sears, who was based for most of his career in Philadelphia, designed a variety of different types of landscapes ranging from private residences, schools, and playgrounds to parks, cemeteries, and urban housing developments located primarily in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. In addition to some of Sears' design work, images in the collection document Sears' domestic and foreign travels, design inspirations, and family. The collection includes over 4,800 black and white negatives and glass lantern slides dated circa 1899 to 1930. While most images show private and public gardens, there are a significant number of unidentified views and views photographed in Europe during two trips he took there in 1906 and 1908. Few images are captioned or dated. In addition, there are over 50 plans and drawings, most notably for Balmuckety in Pikesville, Maryland and Reynolda in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and 3 monographs by or about Sears.
This collection contains over 37,000 35mm slides, 3,000 glass lantern slides and garden files that may include descriptive information, photocopied articles (from journals, newspapers, or books), planting lists, correspondence, brochures, landscape plans and drawings. Garden files were compiled by Garden Club of America (GCA) members for most of the gardens included in the collection. Some gardens have been photographed over the course of several decades; others only have images from a single point in time. In addition to images of American gardens, there are glass lantern slides of the New York Flower Show (1941-1951) and trips that GCA members took to other countries, including Mexico (1937), Italy, Spain, Japan (1935), France (1936), England (1929), and Scotland. A number of the slides are copies of historic images from outside repositories including horticultural and historical societies or from horticultural books and publications. The GCA made a concerted effort in the mid-1980s to acquire these images in order to increase its documentation of American garden history. Because of copyright considerations, use of these particular images may be restricted.
The records of the Downtown Gallery date from 1824 to 1974 (bulk 1926-1969) and measure 109.56 linear feet. The records present a comprehensive portrait of a significant commercial gallery that operated as a successful business for more than forty years, representing major contemporary American artists and engendering appreciation for early American folk art. There is an unprocessed addition to this collection dating circa 1970 of a single financial/legal document.
The Technical Reference Files comprise an artificial collection that currently contains 1,900 cubic feet of aviation and space related materials, organized in 22 subject series. File materials include photographs, press releases, clippings, correspondence, reports, and brochures, on individuals, organizations, events, and objects.