California Botanic Garden records

Finding aid created by California Botanic Garden staff using RecordEXPRESS
California Botanic Garden
1500 N College Avenue
Claremont, California 91711
(909) 625-8767

Descriptive Summary

Title: California Botanic Garden records
Dates: 1818-2018 (bulk 1925-2015)
Collection Number: IR.1
Creator/Collector: Bryant, Susanna Bixby Bryant, Ernest A., Jr. Lenz, Lee W. Munz, Philip A. (Philip Alexander), 1892-1974 California Botanic Garden Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Extent: 22.3 linear feet (38 boxes)
Repository: California Botanic Garden
Claremont, California 91711
Abstract: 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.
Language of Material: English


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.

Publication Rights

Copyright of most materials in this collection is held by California Botanic Garden or by the creator. Consult the Librarian for details.

Preferred Citation

California Botanic Garden records. California Botanic Garden

Acquisition Information

The materials in this collection were transferred by their respective departments or contributed by individual staff and members of garden leadership.

Biography/Administrative History

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.

Scope and Content of Collection

The California Botanic Garden records document the history and activities of California Botanic Garden from its inception in 1927 in Orange County up to the present. The collection contains biographical and historical information on the family of founder Susanna Bixby Bryant, Susanna Bixby Bryant’s correspondence files related to the planning and leadership of the garden, staff files, departmental records (library and archives, herbarium, horticulture and nursery, visitor services and education, and research, conservation, and the graduate program in botany), general administrative records, publications produced by and about the garden and its staff, the files of garden leadership (Board of Trustees, Board of Councilors, and the Advisory Council [formerly Board of Overseers]), facilities construction and maintenance records, and biographical files on prominent 19th and 20th century botanists and horticulturalists. The records consist of correspondence, reports and minutes, legal and financial documents, maps and plans, inventories, articles and publications, brochures and other ephemera, and a small amount of photographs and slides, items used for exhibitions, and born digital material.

Indexing Terms

Botanical gardens--California
Native plant gardens
Administrative records
Publications (documents)

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