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Philadelphia Flower Show Slide and Photograph Collection

Philadelphia Flower Show Slide and Photograph Collection

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Philadelphia Flower Show Slide and Photograph Collection, 1927-2009

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
McLean Library
100 N. 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19103
215-988-8782
mcleanlibrary@pennhort.org



Repository: Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Title: Philadelphia Flower Show Slide and Photograph Collection
Dates: 1927-2009
Quantity: 25.0 Linear feet (164 containers/albums)
AbstractThe Philadelphia Flower Show is the world's largest indoor flower exhibition and, as of 2010, encompasses thirty-three acres and draws over 250,000 visitors annually. The Philadelphia Flower Show was first held in 1829. From 1927 until the mid 1960s, management of the Flower Show was under the auspices of the Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc., a professional group of nurserymen and growers. In 1964, Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc. decided to halt production of the show for two years because of difficulties locating an exhibition space. Under the direction of Ernesta D. Ballard, who felt that yearly continuation of the show was necessary, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society hosted the show in the 23rd Street Armory. In 1966, the show moved to the Civic Center, and in 1968, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society became the show's official producer. In 1996, the Flower Show moved to its current location in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This is a collection of photographs, slides, contact sheets, and negatives from the Philadelphia Flower Show, from 1927 to 2009. Photographs include general views of the exhibition and its attendees, displays of major exhibitors, first through third place winners for each judging category in the competitive classes, opening ceremonies, and awards presentations. The images represent changes in floral design composition for over eight decades and they display the growth and changes of the Philadelphia Flower Show. The photographs also represent the works of many prominent Philadelphia photographers.
Identification: 2010.07
Location noteARC
Language: English

Scope and Contents note

The Philadelphia Flower Show photographs and slides collection dates from 1927 to 2009, and consists of exhibition guides, photographs, slides, contact sheets and negatives. Most of the slides and negatives are in color while the photographs are mostly in black and white with the exception of the years 2000 to 2009. The collection covers over eight decades of the Philadelphia Flower Show. The collection is arranged chronologically in ten series. The first nine series are: "1927-1929," "1930-1939," "1940-1949," "1950-1959," "1960-1969," "1970-1979," "1980-1989," "1990-1999," and "2000-2009." Within an individual year, different types of resources are arranged in the following order: "exhibition guides," "photographs," "slides," "contact sheets," and "negatives."

The tenth series, "Edmund B. Gilchrist, Jr. negatives," dates from 1956 to 1987. Edmund B. Gilchrist was a prominent photographer for the Philadelphia Flower Show. The negatives depict images of the Philadelphia Flower Show and a number of negatives also feature PHS's Harvest Show. The images include floor displays, competitive classes, table arrangements, flower show setup, awards, plant care, and staff.

The eleventh series, called "Carl Dolente's Philadelphia Flower Show slides," consists of Flower Show negatives collected by Carl Dolente. This series dates from 1969 to 1988 and consists mainly of slides of the Flower Show, but there are some slides that feature gardens unrelated to the Flower Show.

Note: Since 2010, retrospective materials from the Public Relations and Marketing Department have been interfiled into this collection.

The images featured in the collection vary through the years. The images from the earlier years of the Flower show consist mostly of general views featuring large exhibits and floor displays. Images from later years focus mostly on the competitive classes. There is also a variation on arrangement through the years. Images from the earlier years also tend to be largely unlabeled and un-indexed. Indexing for the later years begins around 1961. There are periodically indexed slides of competitive classes listing awards and judges' scripts. From the mid-1980s to 1998, the indexing is fairly consistent and the binders housing these slides contain the Exhibition Guide from the Flower Show and the judges' script. The judges' script includes the class name of the display, comments on display, and for later years it includes the materials used in the display. Also included are slides of the construction of the exhibition in 1997 and press kit information for the 1981 Flower Show.

The photographs in this collection were taken by several prominent Philadelphia-area photographers. Photographer William N. Jennings, best known for his photographs of lightning, took photographs for the flower show in the 1920s and the 1930s. Photographer Walter M. Faust photographed the show during the 1940s. Philadelphia Associated Press photographer Jules Schick photographed the Flower Show in the 1950s. Edmund B. Gilchrist, Jr. and Vinciguerra Photography photographed the show in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

The collection provides an excellent display of the floral design composition and changes in this art spanning eight decades. The change in design regarding space, texture, color and balance can be viewed in the many photographs of arrangements in this collection. This collection would be of interest to those studying design principles, design history, the history of the flower show, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, gardening societies, and horticulturists. The photographs and the scripts with judges' comments of the many classes of past exhibitions would be great resources for prospective competitors to examine for inspirational ideas.


Biographical/Historical note

The Philadelphia Flower Show has roots extending back to 1829, when the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) hosted its first public exhibition, the "Spring Flower Show," at Masonic Hall on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After putting on this exhibition for almost 100 years, in 1925, the PHS joined with the Florist Club, an association of commercial growers, and put on the first official Philadelphia Flower Show. The 1925 show was enormously popular, attracting 84,000 people. In 1927, Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc., a professional group of nurserymen and growers, was established, and it assumed management of the Flower Show until the mid 1960s.

In 1964, Philadelphia Flower Show, Inc. decided to halt production of the show for two years because of difficulties locating an exhibition space. PHS, under the direction of Ernesta D. Ballard, felt that yearly continuity of the show was necessary and hosted the show that year in the 23rd Street Armory. In 1966, the show moved to the Civic Center and in 1968, PHS became the show's official producer. In 1996, the Flower Show moved to its current annual location in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. In 2010, the Philadelphia Flower Show was the world's largest indoor flower exhibition, encompassing thirty-three acres and drawing over 250,000 visitors annually.

Since the beginning, the Philadelphia Flower Show has showcased contemporary trends and advances in horticulture. It has been a venue in which international horticultural groups have exhibited. Exhibits are created by nurseries, plant societies, garden clubs, and trade organizations. There are also educational and special exhibits. Participating groups and organizations include the Philadelphia Bonsai Society, the Philadelphia Fire Company, the Philadelphia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ACME, W.C. Conrad Pyle and Company, W. Atlee Burpee Company, Otts Nursery of Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, and Albrecht's Garden Center and Nursery of Narberth, Pennsylvania.

The flower show also features a number of competitive classes that change throughout the years. Some include garden displays, horticultural specimens, table and room arrangements, pressed flower pictures, windowsill arrangements, and a number of themed competitive classes displays. The themed competitive classes also change throughout the years. These themes include such ideas as "Soup Du Jour - a design using a soup ingredient," "Day Is Done - an arrangement using the colors of sunset," and "Curtain Call - a design interpreting a stage performance" (1988). A number of celebrity judges took part in the competitive category of the show including Lord Aberconway of England (1937) and Princess Grace of Monaco (1976). In more recent years, PHS incorporated exhibition-wide themes, such as "A Touch of Britain" (1985), "The World is Your Garden" (1988), "La Passion du Jardin" (1998), and "Legends of Ireland" (2007).


Index Terms

Dolente, Carl S
Flower shows
Gardening
Gilchrist, Edmund B.
Horticulture
Negatives (photographic)
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
Philadelphia Flower Show.
Photographs
Slides (Photographs)

Restrictions

Conditions Governing Access note

Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Archives with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.

Conditions Governing Use note

This collection is open for research use.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation note

[Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], Philadelphia Flower Show slide and photograph collection, 1928-2009, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society McLean Library.


Related Material

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society: Philadelphia Flower Show minutes, 1927-1996, 2004; Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Public Relations and Marketing Department image collection, 1958-2005; Anne Wertsner Wood slide collection, 1940-1983.


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