A humble seed catalogue can serve as an indicator of important changes in botanical knowledge and plant distribution as well as a historical reference for a myriad of topics, such as the development of agrarian history, kitchen gardens, conservatories, and techniques of gardening, as well as horticultural purchasing habits. Seed catalogues can also provide a window into how the development of both printing technology and graphic illustration were exploited by various seed companies to market their inventories.
The Rare Book Collection of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library houses a small but significant collection of seed catalogues, comprised mainly of European (early eighteenth to early twentieth century) and American (mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century) examples. Initial steps in the project are to provide an overview of the diversity and depth of the collection with an ultimate goal of digitized access.
For more information about the collection, contact RareBooks@doaks.org.