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American Women: Resources from the Manuscript Collections

Agriculture & Horticulture

Frances Benjamin Johnston, photographer. Seven women and two small girls in the garden of Mrs. John W. Paris, Flushing, Long Island, New York, between 1909 and 1927. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Although many scientific pursuits were considered off limits to most women by the late nineteenth century, the fields of agriculture and horticulture seem to have been more accessible, perhaps because of women's traditional roles in maintaining family farms and gardens. The Charles Cotesworth Pinckney Family Papers (8,000 items; 1703-1947) contain letter books of Elizabeth Lucas Pinckney (1723-1793), one of America's earliest agricultural innovators, whose experiments with indigo helped to establish that crop as an important southern export in the eighteenth century. (Also of note in this collection is a plantation book that lists the names of enslaved individuals along with their birth dates and a description of the work they performed.23)

In more recent years, Pennsylvania horticulturist and city planner Mira Lloyd Dock (1853-1945) accumulated papers (2,500 items; 1814-1947; bulk 1896-1930) dealing with conservation, forestry, gardening, park development, and city beautification. Other work by women landscape architects may be unearthed in the records of the American Society of Landscape Architects (11,000 items; 1900-1960; bulk 1925-55).

Naturalist and ornithologist Harriet Mann Miller (1831-1918), who wrote under the pseudonym Olive Thorne Miller, is also represented by a small collection (46 items; 1891-1909).

Manuscript Resources Referenced

The following collection titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content, including finding aids for the collections, are included when available.


  1. Other plantation books documenting the sale or work of enslaved women may be found in the papers of Robert Carter, William B. Randolph, Edward Frost, James Henry Hammond, Roger Jones, and the Sterritt Family. Back to text