April 22, 2019 | Angela Naumov, Archivist

As staff and volunteers at the Helen Fowler Library begin to sort through and pack the library collections in preparation for the move to the Freyer – Newman Center, we are uncovering some remarkable things from Denver Botanic Gardens’ past.

The archival collections need to be sorted and packed with extra care, and during this process some hidden gems have been unearthed, among them a visitors register book and a ledger for the library from 1947—the earliest days of the Helen Fowler Library. At this point in its history, Denver Botanic Gardens still existed under the precursor organization, the Colorado Forestry and Horticulture Association, located at the Horticulture House on 1355 Bannock Street.

The visitors log tracked guests of the library, and the ledger tracked expenses and revenue of the library, including donations from multiple figures with historically significant relationships to the Gardens. Among them were Kathryn Kalmbach, for whom the herbarium was named; Ed White, the architect of the Boettcher Memorial Conservatory; S.R. DeBoer, the designer of the original plan of the Gardens; and many more.

It is wonderful to see the evidence of support that the library has been given in the past. Through it, the Helen Fowler Library has been able to provide research materials and information to staff and guests for more than 70 years. Today, with the ongoing support of members and individuals, and funding through grants from  organizations like the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the library and our other non-living collections continue to grow and have the resources necessary to make the move to the new facility.

If the history of Denver Botanic Gardens and its founding figures is of interest to you, schedule an appointment to do research with the archival materials when the Helen Fowler Library reopens in the Freyer – Newman Center in 2020.

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