Mass Hort Shares Edwin Hale Lincoln Glass Plate Collection

November 6, 2017


Edwing Hale Lincoln PhotoThe Massachusetts Horticultural Society is pleased to share its Edwin Hale Lincoln Glass Plate Collection from its archives. This important collection of 1300 eight by ten inch glass plate negatives depicts images of flora and landscapes at the turn of the last century. The collection includes those that appeared in Lincoln’s renowned eight-volume set of Wild Flowers of New England (c. 1904-1914) and in his two-volume set of Orchids of the North Eastern United States (1931.) These books are rare and highly valued by collectors today.

Edwin Hale LincolnLincoln was a pioneer in modern photography and one of the most respected professional photographers of his era. He was an award-winning photographer who exhibited alongside renowned photographer Alfred Stieglitz in the Joint Exhibitions of the early 1890s. Early in his career, he focused on nautical photography, the glass plates of which are now housed at the Peabody Essex Museum. He soon turned to architectural and landscape photography, leading to a consuming passion for floral images. Later in his career, his work was influential in the Arts and Crafts movement where he was highly admired by Gustave Stickley, and artists at Rookwood Pottery used his images as inspiration for their designs. Today, his work is important as both an artistic and scientific endeavor, and it is collected by major museums and libraries throughout the world.

Except for the time he enlisted in the Union Army at age 14 as a drummer boy, Lincoln lived his entire life in Massachusetts. In 1938, at the age of 90, the vigorous Lincoln suffered an untimely death after being struck by a car. He was a beloved figure in western Massachusetts, particularly as a veterans advocate in the Grand Army of the Republic. Two thousand people showed up for his funeral where a tribute declared that, “Lincoln’s life was open to the sunshine. He was like one of his own pictures, a thing of perfect artistry.” Shortly thereafter, Lincoln’s family entrusted his glass plate negatives to the Society for all to enjoy.

For years these plates were unseen due to their age and fragility. The Society collaborated with Digital Commonwealth and Boston Public Library to publish these images online to share them with the public. 

Massachusetts Horticultural Society, a 501 (c) (3) educational organization. Founded in 1829, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society is dedicated to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and to developing the public's enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment. Located on 36 acres in the historic Elm Bank Reservation, Wellesley/Dover, Massachusetts, The Gardens at Elm Bank provide a beautiful open space where people of all backgrounds can come together for inspiration and education. For additional information please visit





Contact: Katherine Macdonald
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.