Liberty Hyde Bailey Papers

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Bailey, L. H., (Liberty Hyde), 1858-1954
Liberty Hyde Bailey papers
Date [inclusive]
1.5 Cubic feet

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: "Item title, Collection title, Collection Identifier, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan."

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Historical Note

Liberty Hyde Bailey was born March 15, 1858 in South Haven, Michigan. Although he never earned a high school diploma, he entered Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) in the fall of 1877 and graduated in 1882 . While at M.A.C., he was the president of the Natural History Society, editor-in-chief of The College Speculum and worked as a collecting assistant for professors Beal and Cook. Duing this time, he also met his future wife, Annette Smith, a fellow student.

After graduation, he worked in the Harvard Herbarium under Asa Grey as an assistant in the botanical gardens. He returned to M.A.C. as a horticulture professor in 1885 and earned his MS in 1886. Bailey was an innovative teacher. He introduced lab work in his horticulture classes and planned the first horticultural lab building in the nation. This building still exists and is now Eustace Hall. Bailey left M.A.C. for a professorship at Cornell in 1888. While at Cornell, he continued to introduce new ideas in the teaching of horticulture such as establishing a plant pathology program. He became Dean and Director of Cornell’s College of Agriculture in 1903 and remained so until his retirement in 1913. During his time as Dean, he also headed President Theodore Roosevelt’s Commission on Country Life.

After his retirement from Cornell and into his nineties, Bailey remained an active plant collector and traveled to China, South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and New Zealand on scientific expeditions. He became the world’s leading expert on palm plants. Bailey died at the age of 96 on Christmas Eve, 1954. Bailey Hall, a residence hall in the Brody Complex, was built a year after his death, in 1955.

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Scope and Contents note

The papers of Liberty Hyde Bailey span the years 1855-1958. The majority of the materials were received from the Liberty Hyde Birthsite Bailey Museum in South Haven, Michigan. The collection contains correspondence, writings by Bailey, newspaper and magazine clippings and photographs. The collection also includes reproductions of botanical drawings.

The correspondence includes three Christmas cards from Bailey to his wife; a collection of business letters; a letter from China in 1924; a letter from his niece; and two letters to his father, which were published in the South Haven Sentinel about his trip to Kentucky in 1882. There is also some correspondence regarding the Liberty Hyde Bailey School in East Lansing, Michigan.

The writings are arranged alphabetically and include the story “How I went to Chicago,” written by Bailey when he was 13 years old. Bailey wrote the speech, “Let us look backward in order that we may look ahead,” on the occasion of New York Governor Odell’s signing of the bill establishing the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell University in 1904. Included are a number of agriculture books written by Bailey. Also in this collection are several poems written by Bailey and an 1888 record of the ornamental plants on Michigan Agricultural College’s (now Michigan State University) campus that he compiled while he was a professor here.

The various newspaper and magazine clippings include information about Bailey’s later life, including his 90th and 93rd birthdays and death.

The photographs include pictures of agriculture and lumbering taken around the state of Michigan in 1888. These pictures come from various counties as well as the M.A.C. campus. There is also a photograph of the Liberty Hyde Bailey School in East Lansing.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections

Conrad Hall
888 Wilson Road, Room 101
East Lansing , MI, 48824

Revision Description


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Legal Status note

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Michigan Agricultural College.
  • Michigan State University. Class of 1882.


  • Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Photographs
  • Poetry

Personal Name(s)

  • Bailey, L. H., (Liberty Hyde), 1858-1954 -- Form subdivision--Archives.;
  • Superintendent of Schools (East Lansing)


  • Agriculture -- Michigan
  • Botany
  • Elementary schools -- Michigan -- East Lansing
  • Lumbering -- Michigan

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General Note

See Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum in South Haven, Michigan.

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Collection Inventory


Box Folder


2386 1


Box Folder

Business 1855-1911 

2386 2

Christmas 1908, Undated 

2386 3

Cornell University Experiment Station Circa 1888 

2386 4

Family 1852, Undated 

2386 5

Letter from China 1924 

2386 6

Letters to father published in South Haven Sentinel 1882 

2386 7

Regarding the Liberty Hyde Bailey School 1938-1958 

2386 8


Box Folder

"Absolute Uniformity" 

2386 9

"Botanizing in the South" (from the MAC Record) November 1931 

2386 10

"A Catalogue of North American Carices" April 1884 

2386 11

The Champion 1874 

2386 12

"Fig. 10" 

2386 13

"The Forcing Book" 1897 

2386 14

"The Genus and the Species" 1920 

2386 15

"The Horticulturist's Rule-Book" 1896 

2386 16

"How I went to Chicago" 1871 

2386 17

"Let us look backward in order that we may look ahead" May 9, 1904 

2386 18

"A List of Ornamental Plants Which are Hardy in Michigan" July 1887 

2386 19


2386 20

"Plant-Breeding" 1895 

2386 21

Poems Undated 

2386 22

Record of Ornamental Plants at M.A.C. 1888 

2386 23

"The State and the Farmer" May 1907 

2386 24

"York State Rural Problems I" 1913 

2386 25
Box Folder

Newspaper and Magazine Clippings 

2386 26-27

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Photographs by Liberty Hyde Bailey 

Box Folder

Alcona County 1888 

2386 28

Crawford County June 15 - 16, 1888 

2386 29

Grayling and Vicinity June 16 - 18, 1888 

2386 30

M.A.C. Campus July 6, 1888 

2386 31

Mio and Vicinity June 15, 1888 

2386 32

Oscoda County June 15, 1888 

2386 33

Portage Lake and Vicinity June 18, 1888 

2386 34

Trees undated 

2386 35
Box Folder

Photograph of Liberty Hyde Bailey School Undated 

2386 36

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Negatives (Copies) 

Box Folder

Alcona County Undated 

2386 37

Crawford County Undated 

2386 38

Grayling and Vicinity Undated 

2386 39

M.A.C. Campus Undated 

2386 40

Mio and Vicinity Undated 

2386 41

Oscoda County Undated 

2386 42

Portage Lake and Vicinity Undated 

2386 43

Trees Undated 

2386 44

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Reproductions of Botanical Drawings Undated