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California Botanic Garden records
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Collection Overview
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The California Botanic Garden records document the history and activities of the garden from its founding in Orange County in 1927 as Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden by Susanna Bixby Bryant. The collection includes historical information about the Bixby Bryant family; departmental records, including the library and archives, herbarium, nursery and horticulture, visitor services, and research and the botany graduate program; correspondence and the files of Susanna Bixby Bryant, trustees, and staff; financial and legal records; garden publications and articles about the garden or by garden staff; meeting minutes and reports; facilities and utilities management records; and biographical files on prominent 19th and 20th century botanists and horticulturalists.
California Botanic Garden was founded as Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in 1927 by Susanna Bixby Bryant (1880-1946) in memory of her father, John W. Bixby. Born in Long Beach and educated in Berkeley and Boston, Susanna Bixby married a physician, Ernest A. Bryant (1869-1933), in 1904. They had two children: a daughter, Susanna Bryant (Dakin), and a son, Ernest A. Bryant Jr. She inherited a portion of Rancho Santa Ana in northern Orange County in 1912 and eventually became sole owner of the 6000-acre ranch in 1925. During this period, she became interested in the conservation and promotion of native California plants. With the advice and support of notable California botanists and horticulturalists, including Theodore Payne, Willis Jepson, and Ernest Braunton, she established a 200-acre native plant garden on her property. The stated primary objective for the garden was “to preserve our native California flora, try to replenish the depleted supply of some of our rarest plants, and bring together in a comparatively small space as complete a collection of our rich store of native California plants as can be made to grow in this southern section of the State.” Susanna Bixby Bryant served as director until her sudden death in 1946. Dr. Philip A. Munz (1892-1974), who had been hired to replace Carl Wolf as Botanist in 1946, was subsequently appointed Managing Director. Under Munz’s leadership, the garden was moved in 1950 from Orange County to its current 86-acre site in Claremont in Los Angeles County in order to improve accessibility and strengthen ties to the academic community through a new affiliation with the Claremont Colleges. The garden was renamed California Botanic Garden in 2020.
22.3 linear feet (38 boxes)
Copyright of most materials in this collection is held by California Botanic Garden or by the creator. Consult the Librarian for details.
The collection is open to research, except for the meeting minutes and reports of the Board of Trustees and Advisory Council (Series IX) and some legal, financial, and personnel records (Series III.B. and Series IV), which require special approval. Contact the repository for access.