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Anne Sweeney

Sweeney, Anne, 1887-1954

Anne Sweeney (1887-1954) arrived at Dumbarton Oaks in February 1937. Before that February, Sweeney lived and worked at Casa Dorinda in Santa Barbara, California, where she was employed by Anna Dorinda Bliss (1851-1935). When the elder Mrs. Bliss died, Mildred Bliss brought Anne Sweeney to Washington, D.C., where she took over a number of clerical and garden duties. Under the direction of Beatrix Farrand, she received responsibility for an ambitious new garden project—the Catalogue House displays and Garden Guide educational tours.

Working from instructions and reading lists composed by Farrand, Sweeney created displays that featured seasonal plants in the garden, titled “What’s in Bloom Now?” The illustrated panels hung in the Catalogue House, and Sweeney prepared short lectures to accompany each current exhibit. She delivered these talks to garden visitors, primarily schoolteachers and students. However, on a few occasions she spoke to a broader audience, like the Garden Club of Georgetown. During World War II, she gave Victory Garden demonstrations.

Sweeney’s office tasks ranged from some secretarial work for Mildred Bliss to compiling lists of books to be purchased for the Garden Library under Farrand’s direction. She also catalogued Latin and common plant names for Beatrix Farrand’s Plant Book. Although her official title was Garden Guide, she performed a wide variety of tasks, perhaps in order to prove her usefulness. As a personal employee of the Bliss family in 1937-39, Anne Sweeney occupied a unique position when Dumbarton Oaks transitioned to Harvard University in 1940. Her salary remained split between Mildred Bliss, Beatrix Farrand, and Harvard until she retired on February 1, 1951.



Garden Archives correspondence

Harvard University. Report of the President of Harvard College and reports of departments, 1950-51 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1950-51), 303 (seq. 937). Accessed May 13, 2014.