Ethel Z. Bailey Horticultural Catalogue Collection uri icon

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  • The L. H. Bailey Hortorium, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, maintains an extensive collection of nursery and seed catalogues. With holdings of over 134,000 pieces, this collection is one of the largest of its kind. It includes catalogues from foreign countries as well as the United States and Canada. Started by Liberty Hyde Bailey around 1888, the collection was turned over to his daughter, Ethel Zoe Bailey, in 1911. She curated the catalogue collection for over 70 years, volunteering her time after retirement. The collection was named in her honor following her death at the age of 93.

    The nursery and seed catalogue collection has been used to provide a variety of horticultural information. Originally, L. H. Bailey used the collection for his research on cultivated plants. This research led to such reference works as Bailey's Manual of Cultivated Plants and Hortus Third. Now more than 110 years old, the catalogue collection provides a vast amount of historical data. It is useful in garden restoration projects for verifying the existence of certain plant varieties. For academic research, the collection can sometimes provide dates and places of introduction of particular plant cultivars and species. Since new catalogues are still being received each year, the collection is also useful in locating current seed or plant source information for both the nursery trade and general public.