Special Collections

Rare Books and Journals

The rare book collection contains over 1,000 books and journals dating back to the 17th century and covers many of the same subject areas as the general collection. Collection strengths include early California botanical journals, 19th century geologic surveys and railroad expeditions, botanical illustration, and garden design.

In 2016, the Rare Book Collection was moved to its new home in the newly built UCSB Special Collections Library. Learn More

Photo Collections

The photo collection contains over 100,000 slides and print photographs of plants, gardens, habitats, and people focusing on the plant life and garden history of the Santa Barbara region. Most of the collections may be consulted for research purposes only; however, select images may be reproduced on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the Information Resource Steward.

The SBBG Photos Digital Image Library with more than 75,000 images is available online at www.sbbgphotos.org.

Manuscript Collections

The library has collected and organized papers from people and relevant organizations associated with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden or active in California botany and horticulture. Archival finding aids for most of the collections provide folder-level access.

Bard Papers—Horticultural materials about "Berlywood," in Ventura County, home of California senator Thomas Bard (1841-1915) and his wife Mary. Site of many rare plants and commercial nursery. Records from 1894 until c. 1941.

Charles Francis Saunders Collection—Research materials, drafts, and correspondence for the 18 books and numerous articles Saunders published on California botany, ethnobotany, history, and gardening. Historical material on Southern California from c. 1904 to 1942. Rare books and autograph collection of famous botanists are also included.
Finding aid available: Charles Francis Saunders Papers

Franceschi Papers—Nursery catalogs, inventory books, plant lists, and articles by Franceschi document his contribution to Santa Barbara horticulture.

Ralph Stevens Papers—Correspondence, reports, articles, and plant lists of the Santa Barbara landscape architect and park superintendent. Materials pertain to Stevens' teaching at UC Berkeley and the creation of the botanical garden there, as well as his commission to design the grounds of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Papers—Includes papers of Garden directors Clements, Bissell, Van Rensselaer, Muller, and Philbrick, and horticulturist Dara Emery.

Clifton Smith Papers—Research notes, correspondence, publications, field notebooks, photographs, maps, printed matter, and memorabilia of this well-known botanist and collector are included and cover the period 1861-1998. Regional history files document the history of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties. Extensive research materials pertain to the different editions of Smith's A Flora of the Santa Barbara Region, California.
Finding aid available: Clifton Smith Papers

Henry Pollard Collection—Field notes, correspondence, and articles of local plant collector and teacher's botanical collections of the Ventura area.
Finding aid available: Henry Pollard Papers

Art Collections

The library houses a small collection of botanical and regional artwork. Complete sets of botanical prints by printmakers Henry Evans and Henry Mockel are included, as are individual works by Jacqueline Broughton, Henry Chapman Ford, Mary Hood, and Elisabeth Hallowell Saunders. The Garden is also home to thirty Patrick O'Hara original watercolor paintings and three porcelain sculptures featuring California native wildflowers.

Architectural Drawings

Architectural drawings depict the development of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden since the 1930s and include planting and building plans by Lutah Maria Riggs, Lockwood de Forest, Jr., and Beatrix Farrand. A collection of planting plans of local parks by Will Beittel and Grant Castleberg is also included.

Nursery and Seed Catalogs

The library houses a historical collection of more than 1,500 nursery catalogs from 1878 to the 1970s. Both growers of native and non-native plants are represented with a focus on tri-county growers such as the Southern California Acclimatizing Association, Montarioso Nursery, Kinton Stevens, and Theodosia Shephard, as well as growers from throughout California, such as Theodore Payne, Carl Purdy, Lester Rowntree, and Paul Howard.