Dr. J. Horace McFarland (1859-1948) was an influential civic leader, author, publisher, horticulturist, and authority on roses. His printing company, Mount Pleasant Press (later the J. Horace McFarland Company), was based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It published many of the seed and nursery trade catalogs in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century and was one of the first to apply color processes to commercial print applications. J. Horace McFarland Company staffers photographed thousands of different gardens and plant specimens throughout the United States. These images were used to illustrate numerous nursery and seed catalogs, journals and books. Among its many services, the firm sold various themed lectures illustrated by sets of hand-colored glass lantern slides.
Dr. McFarland wrote over 200 articles in popular journals as well as a dozen books on roses and gardening. He served as the first president of the American Civic Association from 1904-1924 and led several local and national campaigns to protect communities and scenic areas from urban blight and overdevelopment including the city of Harrisburg and Niagara Falls. McFarland, who served as the president of the American Rose Society (1930-1932) and helped establish a standardized rose identification and registration method, used the gardens on his own 2.5 acre property in Harrisburg, "Breeze Hill," to test hundreds of varieties of roses and plant cultivars. "Breeze Hill" was used as the backdrop for many photographs taken by McFarland's firm.
The J. Horace McFarland Collection includes over 3,100 photographic images of private and public gardens throughout the United States, as well as some from foreign countries, dating from 1899 to 1963. Many of these images, generated for Mount Pleasant Press (later the J. Horace McFarland Company), were used to illustrate trade catalogs published by the firm as well as journal and newspaper articles. The collection also contains color records that were used as reference aids during the printing process, plant patents, and various publications of the McFarland Company.
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, J. Horace McFarland Company collection
Seed industry and trade
Access to original images by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: firstname.lastname@example.org