Massachusetts Horticultural Society Library

About the Library

The Library at Massachusetts Horticultural Society, founded in 1829,was the first horticultural society library in the United States to share horticulture knowledge and beauty. Our horticultural holdings provide invaluable resources to our staff, members, scholars, historians and public. The Library's collection includes over 20,000 volumes at our library in the Education Center of our Elm Bank horticulture center and gardens. At our offsite archives, the Society maintains 5,000 rare books, manuscripts, prints, seed catalogs, glass slides, photographs and early records of horticultural institutions.
We welcome visitors, researchers, scholars, and authors to browse through the stacks at our library and to peruse our digitized official history books and historical Transactions. Follow the link


The library is located in the Education Building at The Gardens at Elm Bank, 900 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA 02482.


The Library is open on Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to Noon.

We are happy to open the Library at other by appointment. Please contact us by

Telephone at (617) 933-4912 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


We welcome the public to browse the catalog and stacks at our library. Members of the Society may borrow circulating items for three weeks.

Special arrangements may be made to view historic and archival materials at the Library. Additional fees may apply. We are pleased to share our holdings with the public as part of our ongoing project to digitize our historic materials. You may view the Society’s Transactions here, Botanical Print Collection here.

Do you have a horticulture question? Get Expert Advice from the Mass Hort Help Line. Click here for info.

Return Book Policy

Borrowed Library materials may be returned to the library materials during library open hours, in the book drop box in the lobby of the Education Building or by postpaid mail addressed to: Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Attn: Library, 900 Washington Street, Wellesley, Massachusetts 02482.

Searching Our Collections

The Library’s Collection has two major components: the general collection and special collection.

General Collection: The general collection of 20, 000 volumes is located at Elm Bank and may be searched at MassCat. In addition, the Library provides additional online resources, including General Onefile, Academic Onefile, New York Times Archives, Massachusetts History Online and Health Reference Center.

Special Collections: Our Special Collections includes rare books, the Society’s records, historic images, 50,000 seed catalogs and other materials that are stored at our offsite archives. These materials are generally not searchable online, except for the Society’s Transactions and Botanical Print Collection. We maintain a card catalogue and other finding aids at the Library at Elm Bank. The following are useful links in searching our Special Collections:

The Society’s Botanical Print Collection: Click here.

Edwin Hale Lincoln Photography Collection: Click here.

Transactions of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society: Click here.

U. S. Seed Catalog Index: (Click here – current pdf link on website)

International Seed Catalog Index: (Click here – current pdf link on website)

New England Garden History Society Index: (Click here – current pdf link on website)

Library Holdings Online 

Click here to view our online listings: Online Catalog. We also provide additional resources, including General Onefile, Academic Onefile, New York Times Archives, Massachusetts History Online and Health Reference Center. 
New England Garden History SocietyJournals

The MassHort staff is gratified that there has been continuing interest in the scholarship and artistry that was created by the authors who wrote for the Journals of the New England Garden History Society across twelve years and eleven volumes, which were published between 1991 and 2003. During that time, the Journal was founded and edited by Judith B. Tankard. 

Click on the following link to view or download the indexes:


Seed Catalogs

The scientific documentation and art history represented in the Society’s seed and nursery catalog collection are part of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s legacy to horticultural research. Although we own many catalogs with an earlier date, MHS did not begin to deliberately collect them until 1880, just in time to benefit from the Golden Age in seed catalog design. Professor Charles S. Sargent, director of Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum donated many catalogs, both American and foreign, and an exchange with the library of the U. S. Department of Agriculture brought many more. Because several of the Society’s founding members were nurserymen, there are early catalogs bearing their names, most notably that of Joseph Breck. By the 1930’s more fanciful names began to appear, e. g. Weathered Oak Herb Farm, in 1937. Click on the following links to view the listings of the MHS collection of U. S. and International Seed catalogs available in our archives.