Field Trip to Bartram’s Garden

We are pleased to provide more information about Sunday’s field trip to Bartram’s Garden, led by curator Elinor Dashwood. We still have a few spaces available, so if you have not already registered and would like to join please e-mail us at

This tour will explore the varied historic and natural landscapes preserved at Bartram’s Garden—an historic site situated in the 21st century post-industrial terrain of the Lower Schuylkill in Philadelphia.

Bartram’s Garden is the oldest surviving botanic garden in the United States. John Bartram (1699−1777), early American botanist, explorer, and plant collector, began the botanic collection in 1728 as a personal garden within a larger agricultural landscape. With Bartram’s lifelong devotion to plants it grew to become a systematic collection of new North American species. Although not the first botanic collection in North America, by the middle of the eighteenth century Bartram’s Garden contained the most varied collection of North American plants in cultivation in the world, and placed John Bartram at the center of a lucrative business centered on the transatlantic transfer of seeds and plants.

Following the American Revolution, Bartram’s sons John Bartram, Jr. (1743–1812) and William Bartram (1739–1823), continued the international trade in plants and expanded the family’s botanic garden and nursery business. Following his father’s lead William became an important naturalist, artist, and author in his own right, and his Travels, published in Philadelphia in 1791, chronicling his own explorations in the American South, remains a milestone in American literature.

Please bring two SEPTA tokens or $4 in single bills or coins for roundtrip transit. We will be eating lunch at the site, so in the hour between the end of the publishing panel and our noon group departure, please pick up something to eat and drink (see our lunch options map for suggestions), meet at the Golkin Room by 12 noon, and get ready to enjoy one of Philadelphia’s historic gems.

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