Wednesday 18 April 2012

Seed catalogues 1: Oregon State University Libraries

It is National Gardening Week, and this seems a very good time to focus on seed catalogues.

Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections has a very useful and well presented online exhibit on early seed catalogues, based on the collection assembled by the former agricultural librarian, Laura Kelts. There are over 2,000 items in the collection, from 1832 to 1966, which include seed catalogues from Great Britain, Holland and other European and Asian countries, as well as (predominantly) North America. The holdings are particularly strong in North American catalogues of the 1940s.

The website gives the history of both British and American seed catalogues. It is divided into pages on the Earliest European seed and nursery catalogues, Early 19th century catalogues (with separate pages for British and American catalogues, Mid 19th century,  Late 19th and early 20th century, World War I, 1920s, 1930s, World War II and 1945-1960.  The appendices are devoted to Art and photography in seed catalogues and, perhaps most useful of all, there is an excellent page of links to other collections and exhibits, mostly in the USA, but also in Britain, Holland and Canada and introducing the Lindley Library (Royal Horticultural Society) project to locate all European seed catalogues, and a separate Bibliography.  Which is why I have called this Seed catalogues I: there is much more to explore!

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