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Catalog Data

Adams, Molly, 1918-2003  Search this
Landscape architect:
Ireys, Alice Recknagel, 1911-2000  Search this
Stege, Friede  Search this
Weber, Nelva M.  Search this
0 Photographic prints (color, 4 x 6 inches)
0 Photographic prints (black and white, 3 1/2 x 5 inches)
0 Photographic prints (black and white, 8 x 10 inches)
0 Contact sheets (black and white)
35mm slides (photographs) (color, 2 x 2 inches)
0 Negatives (35mm negatives, color)
0 Negatives (black & white, 4 x 5 inches)
0 Negatives (120mm negatives, black and white, 2 x 2 inches)
0 Film transparency (color, 4 x 5 inches)
0 Transparencies (120mm transparencies, color, 2 x 2 inches)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographic prints
Contact sheets
Film transparency
Film transparencies
Color negatives
Black-and-white photographs
Color photographs
Slides (photographs)
Black-and-white negatives
circa 1960-1994
The Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection documents the work of Molly Adams, a free-lance garden photographer who photographed hundreds of private and public gardens, many of them in the mid-Atlantic region, from the late 1950s through the mid-1990s. It includes slides, photographic prints, negatives and transparencies. A significant number of images document the work of landscape designers Nelva M. Weber, Alice Recknagel Ireys, and Friede Stege. Roughly 50 gardens do not have an identified location. Some images have captions and other information written on them.
Scope and Contents:
The Maida Babson Adams American Gardens Collection includes a total of 7,606 images documenting close to 400 gardens photographed by Molly Adams from the 1950s to the 1990s. Although most images document gardens in New Jersey, the collection also includes gardens in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania. While the vast majority of gardens in the collection are private, there are also some public gardens and venues like the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in New Jersey, the International Flower Show in New York City, and the White House in Washington, D.C. A number of gardens were photographed during organized garden or horticultural tours or annual meetings of the Garden Club of America. A significant number of images document the work of landscape designers Alice Ireys, Nelva Weber, and Friede Stege. Approximately 85 gardens in the collection are unidentified as to their location and/or client. Relatively few images are captioned or dated; Adams often labeled a film envelope or back of a photograph or contact sheet with just a client surname and the designer (if it was Ireys, Weber, or Stege). In some cases, additional information about a garden's location or owner's full name was gleaned from the finding aids for the Alice Recknagel Ireys Papers or the Nelva Weber Papers. Some images were accompanied by clippings from newspapers or magazines that featured one or more related images by Adams; most of these clippings date from the 1950s and 1960s. There is also a file of general clippings of Adams' work; many of these do not identify the garden that is shown. Most of the images are black and white, though there are a number taken in color. Adams' contact sheets and photo envelopes were sometimes marked with cropping marks or photo developing notes respectively.
Biographical / Historical:
Molly (Maida Babson) Adams (1918 - 2003) had a 40+ year career as a nationally recognized free-lance garden and wildlife photographer and conservationist. Her images were published under the name "Molly Adams." Adams was born in Orange, New Jersey and lived over fifty years in Mendham Township, New Jersey. As a teenager she became interested in photography; she later attended the New York Institute of Photography and became a member of the New York Camera Club. Her photographs were featured in numerous newspapers and magazines including the "New York Times," "New York Herald Tribune," "House Beautiful," "Horticulture," "Home Garden," and "Audubon." During the Kennedy administration, she photographed the White House Rose Garden; these photographs were later published in "Flower Grower." Adams provided hundreds of photographs for "How to Plan and Plant Your Own Property" (1967) by landscape architect Alice Recknagel Ireys and "How to Plan Your Own Home Landscape" (1976) by landscape designer Nelva M. Weber. Her images were also published in books including "The Reader's Digest Practical Guide to Home Landscaping," and "The Complete Illustrated Book of Garden Magic." Adams also occasionally wrote garden-themed articles. A longtime member in the Somerset Hills (NJ) Garden Club, which is part of the Garden Club of America, Adams once served as the latter's official photographer. In the 1960's Adams' photographs drew attention to conservation issues related to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern New Jersey. These widely publicized photographs rallied public support against the proposed destruction of the Great Swamp for the construction of an airport. Adams was also active as a member of the Mendham Township Environmental Commission and the North Jersey Conservation Foundation. In the 1980's she was awarded the Buckley Medal of Merit for Horticultural Achievement by the Garden Club of America for her photographs used in the postcard campaign "Save Our Vanishing Wild Flowers."
Related Archival Materials Note:
The Alice Recknagel Ireys Papers in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, include photographs by Molly Adams. The Nelva Weber Papers in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections at Cornell University Library in Ithaca, New York, likely include photographs by Molly Adams.
Separated Materials:
The North Jersey History & Genealogy Center at The Morristown & Morris Township Library in New Jersey has a collection of images by Molly Adams showcasing nature scenes and birds.
Adams' family donated her collection of garden images to the Smithsonian's Archives of American Gardens after her death in 2003.
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:
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens.
Gardens -- Pennsylvania  Search this
Gardens -- United States  Search this
Gardens -- Connecticut  Search this
Gardens -- Massachusetts  Search this
Gardens -- New Jersey  Search this
Gardens -- New York (State)  Search this
Photographic prints
Film transparencies
Color negatives
Black-and-white photographs
Color photographs
Slides (photographs)
Contact sheets
Black-and-white negatives
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American garden collection.
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Maida Babson Adams American garden collection
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Gardens