Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

"Many...early American seedsmen and nurserymen were authors of practical gardening literature, and their books often contained catalogues of seeds and plants. While their books and magazines helped sell their products, it would be a mistake to underestimate their idealism and view them merely as merchants. The mission of these gardeners was to bring 'civilization' as descended from ancient Greece, and to elevate American horticulture to the stature of European....they believed that everyone, regardless of social position, would benefit from a well-kept garden."

Alice Formiga, 2007

Nursery and Seed Trade Catalogues Collection, 1832-1999

Catalog: W.W Rawson and Co. Boston Massachusetts, 1897.
Catalog: John Lewis Childs Illustrated Catalogue of New, rare, and Beautiful Flowers. Floral, New York, 1896.
Catalog: Garden Treasures. Thomas J. Grey Co. Abington, Massachusetts, 1951.
Catalog: Catalogue of Choice Seeds, 1917. Thompson and Morgan Seed Establishment and Hardy Plant Nurseries. Ipswitch, England, 1917.
Catalog: Hardy Border Carnations and The Douglas Cloves. James Douglas. Edenside, Great Bookham, Surrey, 1926.

Information and Credits

MSS Seed

The Nursery and Seed Trade Catalogues represent a comprehensive resource for researchers interested in the history of agricultural nurseries. The collection consists primarily of flower and seed catalogues, most of which were printed in Great Britain, Holland and the US between the years 1832-1950. The materials provide a historical record of prices, seed sources, and descriptions of plants and seeds offered for sale by nurserymen and growers over time.


A Short History of the Seed and Nursery Catalogue in Europe and the U.S.
A Short History of the Seed and Nursery Catalogue in Europe and the U.S.
A lavishly illustrated history of European and U.S. seed and nursery trade catalogues featuring items from the collection.


30 linear feet; 51 boxes, 23 bound volumes


The Nursery and Seed Trade Catalogues Collection is arranged into two series. The first is comprised of loose catalogues organized chronologically. The second consists of twenty-three bound catalogues, dating to 1940, that have been arranged alphabetically by U. S. state of origin.

Related Papers

The Pacific Northwest Seed and Nursery Catalog Collection contains a number of catalogs published by nurseries and seed companies, primarily in Oregon and Washington, dating from 1992-2009.

Additional catalogues can be found in the OSU Libraries' catalog, in sections such as Vault and Locked Room.

More Information