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James R. Cothran papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS989

Scope and Contents of the Records

This collection contains research materials collected by James R. Cothran including seed and nursery catalogs; information regarding botanists, naturalists, landscape designers and architects, and landscape architectural firms; horticultural, gardening and landscape topics; historic gardens of the Southeast region; and professional materials including correspondence, papers authored, and awards received. The collection consists primarily of photocopies of research material including seed and nursery catalogs, journal articles, and magazine articles. Original copies of these materials are rare within the collection. Research papers written by Cothran's students at the University of Georgia and Georgia State University from 1990 to 2010 comprise a large portion of the collection. These papers examine sites, people and plants associated with the South's historic gardens and landscapes and are scattered throughout the collection. These papers occasionally include copies of photographs and other research materials. The collection also includes newsletters and brochures.


  • 1744-2012, undated


Restrictions on Access:

This collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use:

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

James R. Cothran, FASLA, (1940-2012), was a practicing landscape architect, urban planner, and garden historian. The native South Carolinian received a Bachelor of Science degree in ornamental horticulture from Clemson University in 1962, a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Georgia in 1969, and a Master of Science degree in city planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1978. He served as Vice President of the Planning and Landscape Architecture Division of Robert and Company, an architectural, engineering and planning firm in Atlanta, from 1981 until his death. Cothran also served as a professional instructor in the National Garden Clubs, Inc. Landscape Design Study Program from 1970. Cothran taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Georgia and Georgia State University, where he instructed graduate-level courses on America's historic gardens and landscapes. He was the author of three books, Gardens of Historic Charleston (1995), Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South (2003) and Charleston Gardens and the Landscape Legacy of Loutrel Briggs (2010). Cothran was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2002.


21.267 linear ft. (51 document cases and two audio cassettes)



Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is divided into five series: Series 1: Seed and nursery catalogs, Series 2: People/firms, Series 3: Topics, Series 4: Gardens and historic houses, Series 5: Professional and biographical. Folders are arranged alphabetically within each series according to titles supplied by donor.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Oral interviews on audio cassettes can be made accessible only through conversion to digital audio. Patrons who request access to the audio content in this collection are responsible for digital conversion costs.

Acquisition Information:

Gift, 2006, with subsequent additions.

Processing Information:

This collection was reprocessed in 2013, with subsequent additions.

James R. Cothran papers
Erica Danylchak, Jennie Oldfield
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305