The Special Collections of the Montgomery Library

Robert H. Montgomery and David Fairchild,
founders of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden,
at the dedication ceremony, March 23, 1938

The Archive: Past, Present, Future

Twenty years ago (1984), the scattered records of David Fairchild, Robert H. Montgomery, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden were brought together to create the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Special Collections. Through the generosity of members, volunteers and several grants, the collections have grown into a substantial historic record of the role of plants and plant explorers in this country. Currently, the archives include 14 collections, an estimated 150,000 documents (including letters, manuscripts, architectural drawings, etc.), audio and video tapes, and over 30,000 images in almost every imaginable format.

The papers of David Fairchild represent the core of the archive collection. Much of this collection has been preserved and is accessible to those doing scholarly research on the history of botany in the United States. Of the estimated 6,000 photographic images taken by David Fairchild, almost 2,000 have already been preserved, with the remainder temporarily stored. Many of the other collections are safely stored, but have not yet been arranged or given permanent archival treatment.

Swingle Collection at UM

Swingle portrait

A number of the archive images of Walter T. Swingle are included in the University of Miami Archives Swingle Plant Anatomy Reference Collection.


Currently, we are working to make the collections more accessible at the same time ensuring that they are safe from deterioration and disaster. For example, one project underway is the cataloging of David Fairchild's photographs. At present, almost 4,000 individual photos have been cataloged and indexed. Future projects include digitizing photographs and audio tapes, stabilizing other collections, finding room for proper storage, and eventually making portions of the collections available on the Internet.






Return to Library and Archive home

Unless otherwise stated, all photographs on this page property of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Please contact the Archivist for permission to use or reproduce photographs.

Please contact:
Nancy Korber
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Center for Tropical Plant Conservation
11935 Old Cutler Road
Miami, Florida 33156 USA
tel. 305/667-1651, ext. 3424
fax 305/665-8032