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Nehrling, Henry Papers of Horticultural Studies

Identifier: PP-Nehrling

Scope and Contents

The personal papers and library of Henry Nehrling contain manuscripts, photographs, memorabilia, periodicals, and pamphlets from his personal library.  The collection also includes Nehrling's correspondence with internationally famous botanists, plant collectors and horticulturists of his time, such as Theodore L. Mead.


  • Created: 1886-1929
  • Other: Date acquired: 11/30/1929

Conditions Governing Access

Open access

Conditions Governing Use

The status of copyright on the materials of the Henry Nehrling collection is governed by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U. S. C.).

Biographical or Historical Information

Henry Nehrling was born in 1853 in Herman, Wisconsin, the son of German-Americans Carl Nehrling and Elizabeth (Ruge) Nehrling.  His education in Lutheran parochial schools led him to eventually complete a teacher education program at the Lutheran Teacher's Seminary in Addison, Illinois.  After graduation, Henry married Sophia Schoff and launched a teaching career with  Lutheran parochial schools.  Henry and Sophia had nine children together. Nehrling was always interested in birds and studied them wherever he lived.  His teaching career took him to Illinois, Missouri and Texas.  By 1897, Nehrling had published three books on birds, all written in the German language.  Nehrling became known as "the Audubon of Wisconsin."  While in Texas, Nehrling also became interested in tropical plants and palm trees.  At the Columbian Exposition of 1893, Nehrling had the opportunity to examine a great number of tropical plants and trees, including the fancy-leafed caladium.  With its colorful variegated leaves, the caladium held an enduring fascination for Nehrling.  Through a South American horticulturist, Adolph Leitz, Nehrling acquired hundreds of Brazilian caladium specimens.  These were first housed in his greenhouse in Milwaukee.  Many of them were later moved  to his new home in Gotha, Florida. In Central Florida, Nehrling believed he had found a paradise to grow his caladiums, which he did with great success for many years.  Nehrling created new hybrid caladiums, two of which he named for his son and his son's wife, the "Arno Nehrling" and the "Mrs. Arno Nehrling."  Nehrling also assigned names in honor of  his wife, the "Mrs. Sophie Nehrling," and in honor of  his long time friend, the "Theodore Mead," who was another prominent name in early Florida horticulture.  Nehrling and Mead wrote to each other, exchanged seeds, plants and information for nearly thirty years. In Gotha, Nehrling also began to experiment with the colorful annual flowering Amaryllis, which was a favorite of Theodore Mead's.  By 1908, Nehrling's study of the Amaryllis led him to write a manuscript titled "Die Amaryllis."  For years, Nehrling had been a collaborator with the Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction, which was part of what was then called the Bureau of Plant Industry.  Through this connection, Nehrling was able to expand his international contacts and gather information, plants and seeds from tropical horticulturists around the world.  By the 1920's, Henry Nehrling had become one of the world's leading authorities on tropical plant lore.  After a devastating freeze in Central Florida, Nehrling moved the focus of his activities to Naples, in southern Florida, where he set up what he called his "Tropical Gardens."  By 1925, Nehrling had over three thousand species of tropical plants growing in Naples.  Nehrling was a true naturalist.  He studied nature with great intensity and found Florida to be a paradise for his passions.  Near the end of his life, he wrote "In both the cultivation, and enjoyment of gardens is peace, rest and contentment... As I look out my window at the orchid laden trees, I wonder what more life could offer anywhere." Henry Nehrling died on Nov. 22, 1929 and was buried in Woodlawn cemetery near Gotha, Florida.

Note written by Blair Jackson


8.50 Linear Feet

9.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

Arranged in 18 series.

Method of Acquisition

Manuscripts,  notes, and books were purchased from Mrs. Henry Nehrling in 1930.  The Nehrling-Mead correspondence series was a gift of Julian Nally to Rollins College in 1937.  The children and grandchildren of Henry Nehrling have also contributed books, papers and memorabilia.

Existence and Location of Originals

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Related Materials

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Processing Information

A preliminary organization of the Nehrling collection was undertaken in 1985.  At this time, a typescript index to the Nehrling manuscripts and a summary transcription of the Nehrling-Mead correspondence was also created.  These documents are available online. In 2006, funded by a grant from the State Historical Records Advisory Board of the State Library and Archives of Florida, the collection was processed by Blair Jackson.

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Repository Details

Part of the Rollins College Archives & Special Collections Repository

Rollins College Box 2744
1000 Holt Avenue
Winter Park 32789-4499 US