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GACA Collection 135. Linnaeus Arboretum. Collection of the Linnaeus Arboretum, 1972-Ongoing: Overview

Digital Content

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online through our digital collections.

Need More Information?

To learn more about this collection please see the finding aid link found above, and/or visit the College and Lutheran Church Archives to use these primary sources.

Collection Description

Linnaeus Arboretum.  Collection of the Linnaeus Arboretum, 1972-Ongoing.  GACA Collection 135.  1 Records Center Carton, 1 ½ Hollinger boxes, 1 small box, and digital media.

The Linnaeus Arboretum Collection consists of documents, correspondence, publications, photographs, and other miscellaneous material related to the development and ongoing maintenance of the arboretum.  Initial planning for the Linnaeus Arboretum began in 1972 by Dr. Charles Mason, and the official dedication of land was given by President Frank Barth in 1973.  Several important events in the history of the Linnaeus Arboretum include the completion of the Melva Lind Interpretive Center in 1987, the official naming of the Linnaeus Arboretum in 1988, the formation of the Friends of the Linnaeus Arboretum in 1989, and the first Linnaeus Symposium in 2003.

Historical Note

Planning for the Gustavus Adolphus College Arboretum began in 1972.  In January 1973, President Frank Barth announced the dedication of land lying west of campus to the purpose of developing an arboretum and wildlife area.  Dr. Charles Mason, Associate Professor of Biology, oversaw the project.  Project plans consisted of an initial fifty-five acres to be planted with grass and trees as well as an anticipated expansion to 130 acres if the project proved successful.  In 1975, a master plan for the arboretum was developed which included three natural ecosystems and a formal garden, and Mason was appointed arboretum Director.  The arboretum was home to more than 1,600 trees by 1978, and plans for the creation of two ponds were underway.

In 1986, Borgeson cabin was moved to the arboretum from Norseland, MN, and the Melva Lind Interpretive Center was completed during 1987.  The center includes office space for arboretum staff, interpretive educational exhibits, and a meeting space.  In 1988, the arboretum was officially named the Linnaeus Arboretum after renowned Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.  The Friends of the Linnaeus Arboretum formed during 1989; members of the group participate in volunteer and educational activities.  Jim Gilbert became director of the Arboretum in 1998, and upon his retirement in 2005, the Jim Gilbert Teaching Pond was created.   In 2003, the first Linnaeus Symposium was held in conjunction with the celebration of the Arboretum’s thirty year anniversary.  The Symposium hosted renowned ethnobotanist Wade Davis.

Dr. Cindy Johnson-Groh became Executive Director of the Linnaeus Arboretum in 2006, and in 2007 the Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation was added to the Interpretive Center.  The Linnaeus Arboretum is currently home to 114 different species of trees and shrubs as well as 68 different prairie species.  Grounds consist of prairie, wetland, and forest environments.  In addition, there are twelve formal gardens and over two miles of marked trails.

*Information gathered from Arboretum collection and Linnaeus Arboretum website:

Scope and Content

This collection is divided into five series: Development, Committees, Publications, Administration, and Events.  The finding aid is organized alphabetically and chronologically.    

Development: This series contains documents and correspondence pertaining to the arboretum’s planning and development.  Materials include information on tree plantings, Borgeson Cabin, Melva Lind Interpretive Center, and prairie development.

Committees: Papers in this section include minutes and correspondence from the Arboretum Committee, the Arboretum Ad Hoc Committee, and the Arboretum Advisory Committee.

Publications: Items in this series include editions of the Arboretum newsletter Twinflower, newspaper clippings, maps, research projects and essays by Gustavus faculty and students about the Arboretum, and information about a music composition by Steve Heitzeg inspired by the Arboretum.

Administration: Content in this area consists of documents and correspondence concerning finances, grants, Arboretum staff, the Highway 99 bypass, and Arboretum membership with the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta.

Events: Event information in this series includes the Arboretum Naming Ceremony, Arbor Day celebrations, the Arboretum’s twenty-fifth anniversary, and the dedication of the Evelyn Gardens.

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