Special Collections Department
403 Parks Library
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2140

MS 220
Charles Downing (1802-1885)
Pomological Variety Notes, 1851-1900, undated

Descriptive summary

creator: Downing, Charles (1802-1885)
title: Pomological Variety Notes
dates: 1851-1900, undated
extent: 3.15 linear feet (7 document boxes and 1 half-document box)
collection number: MS 220
repository: Special Collections Department, Iowa State University.


Administrative information

access: Open for research
publication rights: Consult Head, Special Collections Department
preferred citation: Charles Downing Pomological Variety Notes, MS 220, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.


Biographical note

Charles Downing was born in 1802 in Newburgh, New York. He was educated in local schools, and from his teenage years on he assisted his father, Samuel Downing, in his nursery business. Upon his father's death in 1822, he took over the operation of the nursery. He entered into partnership with his younger brother (famed landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing) in 1835, and they continued in business together four years. In 1839, Charles Downing sold out his interest in the family business and started his own nursery. About 1850, he gave up the business entirely and the rest of his life was devoted to research and experimentation on fruit varieties. He developed a test orchard which contained 1,800 varieties of apples and 1,000 varieties of pears. With his brother he prepared The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America (first published in 1845) and after Andrew's death in 1852 he continued to revise and expand the book. Too shy to ever give a speech, Downing did write many articles and was internationally recognized as an authority on pomology. He died in 1885.


Collection description

This collection (1851-1900, undated) contains Charles Downing's notes on numerous varieties of pears, plums and cherries. These include sketches of the fruit; notations on color, fruit shape, and habit; and sometimes notations on the yield of the variety in a particular year. There are also occasional news clippings and portions of letters from others scattered throughout the books; these, too, describe the characteristics of fruits. Correspondents are J. Battey, G. B. Brackett, John Milton Earle, A. Foote, and Ch. Gilbert. In some cases later notes (such as updated names for the different varieties) were penciled in, presumably by Professor J. L. Budd or other members of the Horticulture Department at Iowa State College (University).

These notes came to the library through Professor Joseph Lancaster Budd, Head of the Horticulture Department at Iowa State from 1877 to 1899, who was also a prominent pomologist. Downing willed his notes and his horticultural library to Budd, with the stipulation that these items would come to the Iowa State College (University) Library when Budd had no further need of them. The notes were added to the Library's collection in 1930 and were placed into notebooks.


Container list







Part 1, Pears, pp. 1-165

1857-1881, undated



Part 2, Pears, pp. 166-330

1857-1881, undated



Part 3, Pears, pp. 331-418; Plums, pp. 419-422; Cherries, p. 423; Plums, p. 424; Cherries, pp. 425-434; Plums, pp. 435-495

1857-1900, undated



Part 4, Plums, pp. 496-620; Pears, pp. 621-660

1857-1884, undated



Part 5, Pears, pp. 661-825

1857-1879, undated



Part 6, Pears, pp. 826-990

1851-1879, undated



Part 7, Pears, pp. 991-1113; Plums, pp. 1114-1155

1857-1883, undated



Part 8, Plums, pp. 1156-1276

1857-1884, undated



Index to correspondence