Mary Helen Ray papers
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Mary Helen Ray papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Ray, Mary Helen.
Title: Mary Helen Ray papers
Dates: 1963-2000
Extent: 18.0 cubic feet (19 boxes)
Identification: MS 2261

Biographical/Historical Note

Mary Helen Ray is the daughter of a farmer and was an avid gardener from an early age and has been involved in many community service organizations and projects. Her interests include local and national garden clubs, regional land-use development, historic preservation, and environmental issues. After moving to Savannah, Georgia in 1959 she joined the "Keep Savannah Beautiful" and "Keep Georgia Beautiful" campaigns and became a member of the board of directors for the Garden Club of Georgia. By 1966, Ray was active in garden clubs at the state and national levels, working to promote tree preservation and planting. She is a charter member of the Savannah Tree Foundation, helped create the Fragrant Garden for the Blind in Savannah's Forsyth Park, served on Savannah's Park and Tree Commission for more than thirty years, and was chairman of that commission from 1978-1995.

Mary Helen Ray's concern for protecting historic trees extends beyond Savannah: she is a charter member of the Georgia Urban Forest Council and was instrumental in establishing Georgia's Historic and Landmark Tree Program. She has assisted the Georgia Urban Forest Council in protecting significant trees from damage and removal due to state and federal highway construction. She co-authored the book, A Guide to Significant and Historic Gardens of America, and led a campaign funded by American Forests and the National Council of State Garden Clubs in a survey of famous and historic trees of America. She was the recipient of numerous local, state, and national awards; she has been recognized for bringing the benefits of environmental education, historic preservation, and urban forestry to Savannah and to Georgia; and for her lifelong dedication to promoting tree preservation and planting. Her work has inspired many other communities to adopt similar urban forestry policies.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the correspondence, clippings, newsletters, lists, minutes, agendas, books, magazines, artifacts, programs, and other various materials of Mary Helen Ray from 1963 to 2000. These papers document her involvement in various gardening, conservation, historic preservation, and urban forestry projects and affiliations throughout Savannah, Georgia and the greater state of Georgia. These papers detail the work she did as chairman of the Savannah Park and Tree Commission, Garden Club of Georgia, National Council of State Garden Clubs, and other local garden clubs. Also included are the details of Ray's work to restore the Trustee's Garden in Savannah, the development of the garden of the LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation in Liberty County, Georgia, and the beautification of Savannah.


This collection is arranged into 19 boxes:

Box 1: Correspondence, clippings, newsletters, lists, and minutes regarding Savannah Beautification, Virginia, Trust for Public Land, gardening clubs, 1983-2000

Box 2: Armitage's Garden Perrenials, photographs, catalogs, set of knives, 1996-2000

Box 3: Agendas, clippings, correspondence, minutes regarding the Savannah Park and Tree Commission, 1992-1995

Box 4: Home and gardening magazines, minutes, photographs, correspondence, and programs regarding the National Council of State Garden Clubs, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the LeConte-Woodmanston plantation, 1976-2000

Box 5: Correspondence, clippings, newsletters, regarding arbor day, botanical gardens, arboretums, 1993-1995

Box 6: Correspondence, clippings, programs, minutes, agendas, 1981-1995

Box 7: Native Flora of the Golden Isles, calendar, magazines, clippings, correspondence, proposal to rebuild the Trustees' Garden, information regarding Forsyth Park and gardens and planning for the 1996 Olympics, 1990s

Box 8: Correspondence, clippings, newsletters, lists, minutes regarding historic gardens, 1992-1995

Box 9: Correspondence, clippings, newsletters, lists, minutes, agendas regarding the Olympics, the Savannah Tree Foundation, and the city of Savannah, 1981-1995

Box 10: Correspondence, clippings, newsletters, lists, minutes, agendas regarding various garden clubs, historic preservation, conservation, the Garden Club of Georgia, Georgia Forestry Commission, the LeConte-Woodmanston plantation, 1969-1994

Box 11: Calendars, stationary, clippings, brochures, pamphlets from the Garden Council of Georgia, 1962-1990

Box 12: Videocassette of the 1992 National Arbor Day Awards, correspondence, newsletters, pamphlets, clippings regarding awards received, Bull Street project, Colonial Cemetery, English gardens, Garden Club of Georgia, conventions, 1963-2001

Box 13: Correspondence, clippings, newsletters, lists, reports regarding the Trustees' Garden, 1995

Box 14: Correspondence, clippings, newsletters, poster, reports regarding Arbor Day, Ardsley Park Garden Club, Coastal Georgia land Trust, Coastal Georgia Land Trust, Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center, Famous and Historic Trees, and the Open Space Committee, 1994-1998

Box 15: Photographs, clippings, magazines, newsletters, clippings, correspondence, portable cassette player, 1965-1998

Box 16: The Guide to the Architecture of Georgia, newsletters, correspondence, clippings, pamphlets, brochures, 1990s

Box 17: Correspondence, clippings, pamphlets, brochures, newsletters, reports regarding the LeConte-Woodmanston plantation, 1985-1994

Box 18: Books, clippings, minutes, magazines, correspondence, 1971-1993

Box 19: Newsletters, books, clippings on garden conservancy and the beautification of Savannah, 1970s

Index Terms

Agendas (administrative records)
Artifacts (object genre)
Catalogs (documents)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Garden Club of Georgia.
Gardening--Societies, etc.
Historic preservation--Georgia.
Letters (correspondence)
Lists (document genres)
Magazines (periodicals)
Minutes (administrative records)
National Council of State Garden Clubs.
Ray, Mary Helen.
Savannah (Ga.). Park and Tree Department.
Trustees' Garden Club.
Urban forestry--Georgia.
Woodmanston Site (Liberty County, Ga.)

Administrative Information

Processing Information

This collection is processed at the Basic Level (or collection level). There is no detailed inventory for this collection as it is not fully processed. To request that this collection be added to our priority list of collections to be fully processed as staffing and funding allow, please contact the Library and Archives staff.


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Encoding funded by a 2008 Archives-Basic Projects grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.