Charles A. Lewis papers

Identity elements

Reference code

Level of description



Charles A. Lewis papers


  • 1952-2003 (Creation)


27.55 Linear Feet

Name of creator


Biographical history

Charles A. Lewis (1924-2003), known as the "Father of Horticultural Therapy," was a pioneer in the field of people-plant interaction and innovative horticultural programs. He held a deep-seated belief in the positive effects of nature on people, and throughout his distinguished career he sought to share that beliefe with others.
Over more than 30 years in the horticulture field, Lewis was a plant breeder, a garden center operator, director of Sterling Forest Gardens in Tuxedo, New York, an administrator of collections and research fellow at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, and a consultant in people-plant interactions.
1924, Born on May 24 at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
1942, Enlisted in the Army and served as a weatherman in the Azores, Portugal
1949, Recieved a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Floriculture from the University of Maryland
1951, Received a Master's of Science Degree in Floriculture with a Minor in Genetics from Cornell University; Master's Thesis won an award from Ohio State University
1952, Lewis won the Alex Laurie Award from the American Society for Horticulture Science
1952-1956, Worked as a Plant Breeder at Yoder Brothers, Barberton, Ohio
1956-1960, Worked as a Grower and Garden Center Operator at Syosset, New York
1960-1972, Worked as Horticulturist and Director at Sterling Forest Gardens in Tuxedo, New York
1961, Married Sherrie Rabbino
1963-1972, Was an Advisor for the New York City Housing Authority Garden Contest
1967-1968, Was a Consultant to First Lady's (Claudia Alta 'Lady Bird' Taylor Johnson) Committee for a More Beautiful Capitol at the National Park Service
1972-1976, Was a Coordinator for the American Horticulture Society People/Plant Program
1972-1989, Worked asa Horticulturist and Administrator of Collection Programs at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois
1973-1987, Was an Advisor for the Chicago Housing Authority Garden Contest
1977, Was an Advisor for the British Columbia Housing Management Commission
1977-1980, Received a Certificate of Achievement from Vancouver Housing, British Columbia Housing Management
1978, Was a B. Y. Morrison Memorial Lecturer for the United States Department of Agriculture
1982, Was the recipient to receive the First Service Award from the Chicago Housing Authority
1983, Was a Visiting Instructor who taught a Horticultural Therapy Short Course at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas
1984, Received the Alice Burlingame Award for Humanitarian Service from the National Council for Therapy and Rehabilitation through Horticulture
1985, Received the G. B. Gunlogson Medal from the American Horticultural Society
1987, Received a Special Recognition Award from the New York City Housing Authority Tenant Gardening Competition 25th Anniversariy
1989-1992, Was a Research Fellow in Horticulture at the Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois
1990-1993, Was the Chair of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta
1991-1998, Was a Member of the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico
1992, Retired; Received the Arthur Hoyt Scott Award from Swarthmore College and the Bryn Mawr PA Award from the United States Department of Agriculture
1992-1994, Was Chair of the Human Issues in Horticulture (HIH) Committee, a sub-committee within the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (AABGA)
1992-1998, Was a Member of the American Community Gardening Association
1994, Co-Founder of People-Plant Council
1996, Published, <emph render='italic'>Green Nature, Human Nature: The Meaning of Plants in Our Lives</emph> through University of Illinois Press; Received a Horticultural Therapy Award through the American Horticulture Society
1997, Received an Award from the American Horticultural Therapy Association
1998, Received an Award of Merit from the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta
2003, Died on December 18 from acute pancreatitis and heart complications at Albuquerque, New Mexico
Lewis published many articles on people-plant interactions in professional journals as well as in popular magazine and newspapers. His 1996 book, <emph render='italic'>Green Nature, Human Nature: The Meaning of Plants in Our Lives</emph>, is still required reading for every horticultural therapist.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection documents Lewis’ career as an internationally known pioneer, researcher, and scholar in horticulture therapy, and author of landmark book <emph render='italic'>Green Nature, Human Nature: The Meaning of Plants in Our Lives</emph>. The collection contains correspondence, speeches, research material, files associated with his employment, community and institutional projects, research, writing, lectures and service with numerous national organizations and councils, unpublished and published manuscripts and reports, photographs and slides, and publications (his and those of other leaders in the field).

System of arrangement

This collection is arranged into nine series by type of material: 1) Biographical, 1970-2003, undated; 2) Correspondence, 1970-2003, undated; 3) Subject, 1953-2002, undated; 4) Literary Works, 1950-2001, undated; 5) Printed Material, 1956-2001, undated; 6) Media, 1980, 1896, 1991; 7) Photographs, 1973-1995, undated; 8) Oversize, 1972-2003, undated; 9) Artifacts, 1986, undated.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No access restrictions: All materials are open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Restrictions may apply to the VHS tape and the cassette tape.  The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

This collection has been assigned Accession Number P2005.08.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: Sherry Rabbino Lewis
Acqusition Method: Donation
Acqusition Date: 20050101

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

Acquired because it documents some research and efforts of the Department of Horticulture, especially Horticultural Therpay.


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Notes element

General note

Preferred Citation: [Item title], [item date], Charles A. Lewis papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

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Archon Collection ID


Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Author: Cynthia A. Harris
Processing Info: Cynthia Harris, Library Assistant III, processed the collection.
Publication Date: 2013-11-12

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Physical storage

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