Library of the Gray Herbarium

Archives of Dr. Reed Rollins


The Files of Dr. Reed Rollins Concerning the Arnold Arboretum Controversy

Scope and Content:

This collection is made up of a single small box of files. The files, which contain letters, reports, newspaper articles, a set of 8 photographes, and other miscellany, relate to the Arnold Arboretum Controversy. This drawn-out disagreement, which took place from the mid 1940's - 1966, was concerned with the so-called "Bailey Plan" of botanical reorganization at Harvard. The plan called for, among other things, the movement of the herbarium and a portion of the library of the Arnold Arboretum, along with the related funds, from their Jamaica Plain home to a new facility being built in Cambridge. Within this new building were to be house several different, independently created and endowed botanical organizations that mantained some form or other of dependent, or cooperative association with Harvard. A number of people, including staff members and alumni, were upset by this plan. They not only felt that this movement would hurt the Arboretum, both intellectually and fiscally, but also believed that such a scheme would actually be illegal , as it would break certain stipulations of the Arboretum's original 1872 trust and essentially combine several collections whose trusts stated that they must be independent. The differences between this group and Harvard lead to lengthy, at times bitter, legal and personal battles. The controversy ultimately concluded with the decision of the Supreme Judical Court of Massacusetts ruling 3-to-2 in favor of the University, thus ending litigation on the matter and resulting in the movement of a great deal of the library and the herbarium into the Cambridge facility.

Intrestingly, the majority of the letters in this set are neither addressed to or sent from Dr. Rollins, despite the fact that he was working at Harvard at the time and was apparently active in support of the University in the matter. A great deal of the letters in this file, in fact, appear to be copies of other individuals' personal and professional correspondence, and a large number are labelled as such.

Container Listings:

1. Report on the "Baily Plan" - "Report on the Questions Raised by the Bailey Plan so far as it Affects the Arnold Arboretum".
2. Accounts of the Arboretum and its Activity - "Report of the Director", "Report of the Coordinating Committee on Biological Sciences", "Through the Arnold Arboretum".
3. Excerpts from Relevant Papers and Reports - 5 short (2-5 pp.) selections concerning the Arboretum.
4. Memorandum concerning Ames et al v. Attorney Gneral - "Concering the Decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in the Case of John S. Ames and Others v. The Attorney General of Massachusetts Relating to the Arnold Arboretum, September 15, 1955".
5. Horticulture Magazine, January 1954- Horticulture, January 1954, containing "Arnold Arboretum Dispute".
6. Letters - Letters (1944-1954). [7 folders].
7. Lists, Comments, Minutes - Lists, Comments and Minutes originally contained in a folder labelled "Duplicates".
8. Letters - Letters (1945-1949) originally contained in a foldere lablled "Duplicates".
9. Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Dec. 12, 1953 - Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Dec. 12, 1954, containing "The Arboretum Controversy".
10. Reports and Memoranda - Reports and Memoranda concerning the Arnold Arboretum, its activities and its holdings.
11. Policy Committee: Reports - Reports and Purchase Orders originally contained in a folder labelled "Policy Committee". [3 folders].
12. Policy Committee: Letters - Letters (1946-1954) originally contained in a folder labelled "Policy Committee". [8 folders].
13. Photographs: Harvard Botanic Museum, circa 1910 - 6 Photographes of the Harvard Botanic Museum, circa 1910.
14. Photographs: Gray Herbarium and Asa Gray's House, circa 1910 - 2 Photographes of the Gray Herbarium and Asa Gray's House, circa 1910.


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