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Our collections give a unique insight into the social history of gardening and are an important part of our cultural heritage
Our archive collections comprise the official records of the RHS and collected archives of individuals and organisations closely related to horticulture. This includes diaries, correspondence, minutes, photographs and plans which are currently being catalogued. Desciptions of catalogued archives are available online via the Archives hub.
Our collection of approximately 200,000 photographs includes autochromes, glass lantern slides, black and white prints, and slides. Highlights include more than 700 portrait photographs, mostly of 19th-century botanists and gardeners, housed in the Lindley Library. Many of the people in the photographs have never been depicted in published sources. Work is developing on this diverse collection.
Lindley Library and Wisley Library hold an extensive range of nursery catalogues dating primarily from the 1860s. A few examples of 18th-century catalogues are held at Lindley Library and are mainly of British firms. These collections are important historical records, of use to historians, researchers and vital to the Society’s botanists because they can tell us so much about plant history. Our collection of garden guides is a valuable source of information on the changing face of individual gardens, and our collection of more than 5,000 postcards of municipal parks is one of only two publically accessible collections in the country.
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Read about four of the 20 students of horticulture from RHS Garden Wisley who enlisted during the First World War, and what fate befell them.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.