Collections in the Library
The Sterling Morton Library is a community of collections, resources and able information navigators to support your exploration, research and discovery of plant knowledge. With collections mainly focused on botany, horticulture and related subjects, the library presents a wide range of resources from highly scientific works to general gardening guides to a robust children’s collection.
Search the library’s collections:
- Online: Search the SWAN catalog to discover the holdings of the Sterling Morton Library circulating, reference, and journal collections.
- In person: These materials can be viewed in person in the library’s reading room. The library is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Please contact the library at 630-719-2429 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Borrow resources from the library’s circulating collection:
One of the benefits of membership at the Arboretum is borrowing privileges at the Sterling Morton Library. If you are a member and would like to register for a card, please complete this form to apply for borrowing privileges. And if you aren’t an Arboretum member, join now!
How to use your library card:
- Borrow books up to six books from the Sterling Morton Library for four weeks at a time.
- The books will automatically renew for an additional four weeks if there isn’t a hold on an item.
- Use your card to gain access to thousands of botanical and horticultural eBooks through the eBook Collection.
Through a consortium of botanical and horticultural libraries, the Sterling Morton Library offers thousands of e-books for digital borrowing to Arboretum staff, members, and volunteers. This collection explores topics related to botany, horticulture, and the intersection of racial justice, anti-racism, and the environment. Access to this collection is via the unique patron number issued when registered in the Library and found on the back of your official Sterling Morton Library card.
Access the e-book collection:
- You can access the Arboretum’s E-Book collection at the Consortium login page.
- Enter your official Sterling Morton Library patron number found on the back of your Library card in the box. Hint: Your barcode will begin with 28070. No spaces are necessary.
Not sure or need a reminder of your patron number?
Contact a library staff member in person, by phone at 630-719-2429, or via email at email@example.com.
Haven’t registered in the Library yet?
Stop by the library soon or complete this application.
Part of the Suzette Morton Davidson Special Collections, the Arboretum’s archives house not only the historical and operating records of the Arboretum, but also the papers of several prominent landscape designers and naturalists.
The Arboretum archives includes thousands of original manuscript materials, artifacts, audiovisual materials, maps, photographic images, and even a collection of butterfly and moth specimens collected in 1895. These materials may be viewed in person or online.
View the archives:
- Online: Search ACORN (Arboretum COllections & Resources Nexus) to explore and view the library’s special collections online. New resources are added to the system on a regular basis as a part of ongoing cataloguing and digitization efforts.
- In person: To view these materials in person, please make an appointment.
Within the archives can be found:
- Institutional archives, including papers, correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, maps, audio and video recordings, and artifacts relative to the founding, early history, and continued operation of the Arboretum.
- Collection of Morton family materials, including papers, photographs, and artifacts related to the Arboretum’s founder, Joy Morton, and his family’s involvement with the Arboretum.
- Morton Salt Company materials, including papers, photographs, correspondence, and artifacts. (More papers relating to Morton’s business endeavors can be found at the Chicago History Museum.)
- Landscape drawings by the Arboretum’s landscape architects and garden designers, ranging from O.C. Simonds’ early plan of the Arboretum through the work of the current landscape architect.
Landscape plans, drawings, papers, correspondence, and photographs of several significant Prairie School landscape designers, O.C. Simonds, Jens Jensen, and Marshall Johnson.
- Collection of May T. Watts materials, including papers, correspondence, photographs, artifacts, audio and video recordings, and artwork by the renowned teacher, author, and naturalist who founded the Arboretum’s education program.
- Alice Thoms Vitale Papers, including papers, manuscripts, and artwork of the author of Leaves: in Myth, Magic & Medicine.
- Over 500 mounted butterfly and moth specimens collected in 1895 by noted naturalist Sherman Denton.
- Over 30,000 images in slide, print, and digital format, which include images of the Morton Family and the early Arboretum landscape, staff, living collections, and natural areas.
Rare Publications Collections
The Rare Publications Collection contains more than 5,000 volumes, including journals, nursery catalogs, and books, some dating back to the fifteenth century. This special collection contains a significant group of herbals, books that detail the medicinal uses of plants; works by and about Linnaeus; and publications about trees, gardening, nature printing, and landscape architecture.
View the library’s rare publications:
- Online: Search ACORN (Arboretum COllections & Resources Nexus) to explore and view the library’s special collections online. New resources are added to the system on a regular basis as a part of ongoing cataloging and digitization efforts.
- In-person: To view these materials in person, please make an appointment.
This collection includes a wide variety of historic works on paper:
- Herbals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including the great herbals of Fuchs and Brunfels of Germany, Mattioli of Italy, Dodoens of Holland, and Gerard of England.
- Robert Furber’s Twelve Months of Flowers, published in 1730. This celebrated and beautiful flower catalog presents almost 400 different flowering species, grouped according to the month in which they flower.
- Arboretum publications include the Bulletin of Popular Information and The Morton Arboretum Quarterly.
- Pliny’s Natural History, published in Parma in 1481.
- First edition of Species Plantarum by Linnaeus, published in 1753. This publication stands as the starting point for modern botanical nomenclature.
- A broadside from William Prince Nursery, Flushing, Long Island, printed in 1771. This piece is the first commercial nursery catalog of the American colonies.
- The complete collection of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, dating from 1793.
- The collection of regional historic nursery catalogs includes Vaughan, Buckbee, and Shumway and starts in the late 19th century.
- The earliest published list of plants in a botanical garden, produced by Girolamo Porro in 1591.
- The first folio edition of Philip Miller’s The Gardeners Dictionary, published in 1731.
- One of the most important pre-Linnaean works, Hortus Elthamensis by Johann Jakob Dillenius, published in 1732.
The Art Collection contains more than 16,000 works of art, including original paintings; drawings in pen and ink, colored pencil, and scratchboard; nearly 1,000 nature prints, including lithographs, etchings, engravings, and aquatints; and commercial reproductions of images of plants and the insects and animals related to them.
View the art collection:
- Online: Search ACORN (Arboretum COllections and Resources Nexus) to explore and view the library’s special collections online. New resources are added to the system on a regular basis as a part of ongoing cataloging and digitization efforts.
- In-person: To view these materials in person, please make an appointment.
Some highlights of this collection include: