Edwin DeTurck Bechtel Papers (PP)

Archives, The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
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Collectors: Bechtel, Edwin DeTurck, 1880-1957.
Title: Edwin DeTurck Bechtel Papers (PP)
Dates: 1930-1971.
Dates: bulk, 1950-1959.
Abstract: Manuscripts, correspondence, speeches, articles, reprints and scrapbooks. Also included are photographs and 35 mm slides.
Quantity: 3 boxes; 1.2 linear feet.
Call Phrase: Edwin DeTurck Bechtel, (PP)

Biography of Edwin DeTurck Bechtel

Edwin DeTurck Bechtel, attorney, authority and scholar of rose culture, and an art collector, was born in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania, a town founded by his ancestors, on June 19, 1880. He attended Harvard University where he received a B.A. in 1903, an M.A. in 1904, and a law degree in 1908. From 1911 to 1948 he practiced law with the firm of Carter, Ledyard and Milburn. In 1929 Bechtel married Louise Seaman, founder of Macmillan's children's department and editor of "Books for Boys and Girls" at The New York Herald Tribune. They had homes in Manhattan and Bedford Four Corners in Westchester County, a 32-acre estate where they established a rose garden of more than 700 plants and 300 varieties.

Bechtel wrote widely on a variety of subjects. As a respected rosarian, he became known through his publications and speeches on roses and his official organizational positions. Bechtel was president and board chairman of the New York Botanical Garden, chairman of the Horticultural Society of New York, and the International Flower Show. He was also the winner of the Jane Righter Rose Medal of the Garden Clubs of America in 1953. Before he died on July 4, 1957 at his home in Bedford, he was planning a book entitled "The Pursuit of the Rose." An art collector, he wrote on the works of Honore Daumier and the 17th century French graphic artist, Jacques Callot. He left his collection of Callot and Daumier prints to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Bechtel Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden was dedicated in his memory in 1972. On a level terrace just north of the Conservatory on two-thirds of an acre, the formal garden included four major types of roses: hybrid tea, floribunda, climbers and old garden roses. In 1958 Bechtel Lake at the Westmoreland Sanctuary in Bedford was named in his honor.

In 1960 Louise Bechtel (1894-1985) wrote a memoir of her husband, The Boy with the Star Lantern, an edition of five hundred copies, published privately; she also wrote a monograph About Bedford Corners and Our Home in One Corner (Luneburg, Vt., Stinehour Press, 1963). Both publications are in the collection of the New York Botanical Garden Library.

Scope and Content

The Edwin DeTurck Bechtel papers document his activities as a renowned amateur rosarian. The bulk of the collection comprises the manuscripts and copies of articles, reviews and speeches he wrote during the 1950s.

Louise Bechtel, his wife, compiled three scrapbooks. "The Pursuit of the Rose" is a collection of Bechtel's published speeches and articles which she prepared in 1963 for the library of the New York Botanical Garden; another scrapbook includes photographs from the Bechtels' trip to Denmark and England in 1955, and a third book is a collection of articles on roses.


The Collection is organized into nine series:
Series 1: Biographical Information. 1948-1957 and undated. arranged chronologically.
Series 2: Correspondence. 1949-1957. arranged alphabetically.
Series 3: Maunscripts. 1949-1957. arranged chronologically.
Series 4: Articles. 1948-1957. arranged chronologically.
Series 5: Talks. 1951-1954. arranged chronologically.
Series 6: Subject Files. 1949-1953. arranged chronologically.
Series 7: Louise Seaman Bechtel (Mrs. Edwin) Papers. 1950-1971. arranged chronologically.
Series 8: Original Artwork. 1944.
Series 9: Photgraphs/Slides. 1930-1965.


Access restrictions

This collection is open for research with permission from Mertz Library staff.


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be submitted in writing to the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Bechtel, Edwin DeTurck, 1880-1957--Archives.
Bechtel Rose Garden.
New York Botanical Garden--History--Sources.
Document Types
Manuscripts. aat.
Scrapbooks. att.
Slides. att.

Related Material

New York Botanical Garden

(VF) Bechtel, Edwin DeTurck, 1880-1957.

(VF) Bechtel, Louise Seaman, 1894-1995.

(VF) NYBG Rose Garden.

(RG2) William Jacob Robbins.

Archives, New York Botancical Garden. Edwin DeTurck Bechtel scrapbook, 1947-1957.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Edwin DeTurck Bechtel Papers (PP), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated to the New York Botanical Garden.

Processing Information

Processed December 2004 by Kathleene Konkle under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) PA-50678-04.

Container List


Series 1. Biographic Information.

Scope and Content:

Contains published and unpublished biographical data including obituaries, news articles, personal bibliography, and evidence of association memberships.

Folder Title Date
1.1 General 1948-1957
1.2 Bibliography after 1957

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Series 2. Correspondence.

Scope and Content:

This series contains general correspondence, both incoming and outgoing. Correspondence subjects include Rose competitions, references to roses present in passages of The Bible, and a list of roses present in Kew Gardens, September 1952. The botanical illustrator P.J. Redouté (1761-1840) is discussed and items include a hand-typed copy of a Hunt Exhibition Catalog of his work. There is considerable correspondence that attempts to identify antique roses in a particular mosaic refered to as "Basket of Flowers" from the Vatican Museum in Rome, Italy.

Folder Title Date
1.3 Everett, T.H. 1951/1954
1.4 General 1954-1957
1.5 Hunt, Mrs. Roy (Rachel) 1951-1957
1.6 Outgoing Correspondence 1950-1954
1.7 Miscellaneous (Bechtel, A. R.) 1951
1.8 Nisbet, Fred 1955
1.9 NYBG Reference (Moldenke, H. ) 1949/1953
1.10 Redoute, P.J. (re:) DATE
1.11 Research-"Our Rose Varieties and Their Malmaison Heritage" 1948-1950
1.12 Rose Competitions 1953/1955
1.13 Rose List-Kew Gardens 1952
1.14 Town and Country Magazine 1956
1.15 Vatican Museum mosaic ("Basket of Flowers" 2nd Century) 1951-1953

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Series 3. Manuscripts.

Scope and Content:

General manuscripts, notes, book reviews, lectures, and poetry. Two oversized folders have been moved to Box 2; see container list.

Folder Title Date
1.16 Research/Notes ("Our Rose Varieties and Their Malmaison Heritage") 1948
1.17 "Our Rose Varieties and Their Malmaison Heritage" 1949
1.18 General (#1) 1949-1952
1.19 General (#2) 1953-1957
1.20 Book and lecture reviews 1949-1954
1.21 Poetry 1953-1954
2.1 Notes undated
2.2 "Roses in Western Europe" 1955

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Series 4. Articles.

Scope and Content:

Ten folders containing Bechtel's published articles. Some folders additionally contain manuscripts for the corresponding article, and in some cases include background notes and correspondence. See also Series 3: Manuscripts.

Folder Title Date
1.22 Newspaper articles 1947/1949/1954
1.23 "The Pursuit of the Rose" The Garden December 1948
1.24 "Our Rose Varieties and Their Malmaison Heritage" 1949
1.25 "Our Oldest Garden Roses" The Herbarist 1950
1.26 "Rose Varieties" The Garden Journal July-August 1952
1.27 "Roses in England and France" American Rose Annual 1953
1.28 "A Rose Quest Abroad" The Garden Journal May-June 1954
1.29 "Roses in England" The Garden Journal May-June 1956; July-August 1956
1.30 "Roses in Western Europe: 1955" American Rose Annual 1956
1.31 "European Rose Circuit" The Garden Journal March-April 1957

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Series 5. Talks.

Scope and Content:

Includes talks, notes, correspondence, news clippings, and outlines of talks given by Bechtel to various horticulture clubs and organizations.

Folder Title Date
1.32 Allegheny County (PA.) Garden Club 1951
1.33 Memphis (TN.) March 1954
1.34 Williamsburg (VA.) March 1954
1.35 New Canaan (CT.) Garden Club June 1954
1.36 Greenwich (CT.) Garden Club June 1954
1.37 Horticulture Society lecture series February 1955
1.38 American Rose Society, Louisville (KY.) 1956
1.39 Miscellaneous 1952/1954

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Series 6. Subject Files.

Scope and Content:

Includes bibliographies, plant lists, and summaries.

Folder Title Date
1.40 Brownell, Walter D. 1949-1953
1.41 Tulsa Rose Garden 1950
1.42 Rose Bibliography 1954
2.3 List of Hybrid Perpetuals in the NYBG Rose Garden 1949 and undated
2.4 International Horticulture Congress Summaries 1952/1953

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Series 7. Louise Seaman Bechtel (Mrs. Edwin Bechtel) Papers.

Scope and Content:

Contains correspondence, notes, articles, reprints, and manuscripts produced by Mrs. Bechtel on topics including roses, general gardening, and the collected works of Edwin Bechtel.

Folder Title Date
1.43 General 1950-1971
Box Title Date
1 Scrapbooks 1955/1963

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Series 8. Original Artwork.

Scope and Content:

One oil painting by Margaret Owen of an unidentified rose variety.

Box Title Date
1 Rose, unidentified variety 1944

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Series 9. Photographs/Slides.

Scope and Content:

Contains miscellaneous photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Bechtel and their gardens. Approximately 150 35mm slides of Mrs. Bechtel's rose garden.

Box Title Date
3 Photographs 1930-1965
3 Slides 1930-1965

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