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The Arboretum at Connecticut College records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-04C-03

Content Description

The collection documents the management and operation of the Arboretum at Connecticut College, including committee and financial reports; correspondence; student research; land acquisition records; maps; deeds; photographs; and publications (Arboretum newsletter, the Bulletin, educational brochures, and lists of flora and fauna on the Connecticut College campus). The Arboretum Advisory Committee Reports contain extensive information concerning the growth, environmental goals, and operational difficulties of the Arboretum from 1930 to 2000s. These records have been divided into eight series: Administrative records, Land records, Programs and events, Arboretum Press and Publicity, Undergraduate Natural Science Studies, Audio and Visual material, and Richard Goodwin’s historical research. Series are arranged alphabetically then by date unless otherwise noted.


  • 1890-2016
  • Majority of material found within 1930-1990


Conditions Governing Access

Collection open for use. Some restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Folder RG05C03.001.D.018.015 Safety incident reports, is available in redacted form.

Folder RG05C03.001.D.018.011 Project: Herbarium Curator’s Toolkit 1.0, contains digital media which is currently unable to be accessed.

Administrative History

The Connecticut College Arboretum (originally the Connecticut Arboretum) was established in 1931 on a 64-acre parcel of land on Williams Street, just to the west of the campus. Seeking a new head of the College’s Botany department, President Katharine Blunt believed an arboretum would be an attractive incentive, both as a research facility for the College and as a community resource for the residents of New London.

“Fertile in soil and charming in outlook,” this tract of “rolling hills and little valleys,” with its craggy granite ledges, bogs, red maple swamp, pine plantations, and hemlock groves, quickly became a favored natural escape for picnickers, hikers, and nature lovers from the College and town alike. In April 1931, Blunt hired New York landscape architect A.F. Brinckerhoff to design a preliminary plan for an arboretum, and appointed newly-hired botany professor George Avery as the Arboretum’s first director.

Tasked with the early development and growth of the Arboretum, Avery focused his efforts on establishing a Native Plant Collection, building greenhouses for research, and developing educational efforts and a membership base to help offset operating costs. When Avery left in 1944 for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the University of Rochester’s Dr. Richard Goodwin was hired to head both the Arboretum and the Botany department. Goodwin oversaw the growth of the Arboretum from 90 acres to more than 450 acres to the west, north, and northeast of campus. Educational and research programs expanded under Goodwin’s tenure, as well. In 1952, the Bolleswood tract was established as a site for long-term ecological studies, and a year later, plant ecologist Dr. William Niering was hired to supervise the ecological research program. Over the course of the next two decades, Goodwin and Niering championed land conservation efforts, working with local industrial manufacturers, utilities companies, and the general public to preserve natural areas and protect the region’s tidal and freshwater wetlands. They also worked to establish environmental studies (originally human ecology) as a fully-fledged major program within the botany department in 1969. Dr. Niering became director of the Arboretum in 1965, a position he held until 1988, when Glenn Dreyer was hired as the first full-time administrative director and Niering began coordinating research activities. Dreyer changed the name, from the Connecticut Arboretum to the Connecticut College Arboretum, developed an institutional mission, and in 1996, helped develop a campus planning effort that incorporated all Connecticut College land and property – including the main campus – as part of the Arboretum.

References Arboretum Bulletin No. 28 - The Connecticut Arboretum: Its First Fifty Years 1931-1981. New London: Connecticut College, 1981. Arboretum Bulletin No. 32 - The Connecticut College Arboretum: Its Sixth Decade and a Detailed History of the Land. New London: Connecticut College, 1991. Dreyer, Glenn. “History of the Arboretum.” Connecticut College, n.d. Web.


10.06 Linear Feet (23 boxes, 3 oversize folders)

2 Gigabytes (analog media in folder, digitized audio files)

Language of Materials



Administrative records, correspondence, and land records documenting the Arboretum at Connecticut College’s founding and operations, including extensive information on Arboretum’s growth, environmental goals, and operational difficulties from 1930 to 2000s.


The collection is organized into the following eight series with some sub-series:

Series I: Administrative Records, 1920-2016 Subseries A: Arboretum Advisory Committee, 1930-1991 Subseries B: Correspondence, 1920-1997 Subseries C: Fencing, 1937-1988 Subseries D: General, 1931-2016 Series II: Land Records, 1911-2003 Subseries A: Land Tracts 1911-1988 Subseries B: Maps and plans, 1931-1995 Subseries C: Gardens and plant lists, 1928-2003 Subseries D: General, 1944-1972 Series III: Programs and Events, 1937-2016

Series IV: Arboretum Publications, 1934-2017 Subseries A: Bulletins, 1934-2016 Subseries B: Guides and brochures, 1937-2017 Subseries C: Newsletters and books, 1961-2000 Series V: Press and Publicity, 1939-2002

Series VI: Undergraduate Natural Science Studies, 1954-1996

Series VII: Audio and visual material, ca. 1920-2009

Series VIII: Richard Goodwin’s historical research of the Arboretum, 1890-1999

Processed by

Rebecca Parmer, 2014

Revised by

Rose Oliveria, 2017

Guide to the Arboretum at Connecticut College Records, 1890-2016 (inclusive), 1930-1990 (bulk)
Prepared by Rebecca Parmer, 2014; Revised by Rose Oliveira, 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Second edition

Revision Statements

  • 2017: Accruals added to the collection and finding aid restructured

Repository Details

Part of the Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives Repository

Connecticut College
270 Mohegan Ave
New London CT 06320 United States