UT Dallas Magazine

Treasures of the Third Floor

Drawn from Nature


The oldest book in the McDermott Library, a 1499 volume titled Herbarium Latinum by Amaldus de Villanova, is part of the Belsterling Collection

THE LOUISE B. BELSTERLING Botanical Collection is one of eight managed through the Eugene McDermott Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division.

From centuries-old hand-colored images to a modern videodisc demonstrating how to graft plants, the Belsterling Collection documents the history of botany and horticulture.

In 1907, Louise Babcock married Edward Belsterling, a successful Dallas attorney who shared her fondness for the outdoors. At a time when ladies gardened in long skirts, widebrimmed hats and kid gloves, she combined her genteel hobby with an intellectual interest in botanical and horticultural history. Her acquisitions of early and rare volumes form the nucleus of the Louise B. Belsterling Botanical Collection.

A former French teacher and active member of the Dallas Garden Club, she compiled the Planting Manual for Dallas Gardens, drawing from years of practical experience with Dallas landscapes. It was first published in 1941.

After her death in 1970 at the age of 93, the Louise B. Belsterling Foundation of the Dallas Garden Club was formed and continues to add to the collection, which today holds more than 400 items.

Though not in circulation, the collection is available for researchers to review. Contact [email protected] for more information.

Flora Londinensis, an exceptional first edition from 1777, features more than 400 hand colored engraved plates. No more than 300 were produced. One of the few surviving complete copies, the volume also marked the library's 1 millionth acquisition.