Skip to main content

Michael A. Spencer Bromeliad Research Collection

Identifier: SC-068

Scope and Contents

Series I: Mulford and Racine Foster Files, 1910-1991 documents the work of these two individuals in discovering and propagating bromeliads. Correspondence, publications, notebooks, drawings, research materials, memorabilia and photographs show all aspects of their work including plant collecting, landscape designing and publishing. Photographs may be black and white or color prints, negatives or slides. Additional materials about the Fosters may be found in Series II and III.

Series II: Subject Files, 1880-2003 contains catalogues, journals, photographs, memorabilia and correspondence that Michael Spencer brought together under his chosen subject headings and arranged alphabetically. Many of the materials in this series originally came from Mulford and Racine Foster, which means that there is some overlap with the previous series. Spencer's own collecting interest lay in documenting the importance of bromeliads in society, and he collected many common items that showed bromeliads, especially pineapples.

Series III: Author Files, 1754-1997 includes a variety of media used for research, such as articles, books, magazines, newspaper clippings, and photographs. There are a significant number of materials authored by Mulford and Racine Foster and Lyman B. Smith, including original manuscripts.

Series IV: Plants by Family Files, 1908-1990 contains alphabetical files on plant families, which include newspaper clippings, books and other research materials.

Series V: Natural History Files, 1853-1997 holds alphabetical files on a wide range of natural history topics including plant societies, authors, drugs and diseases. The files contain published materials, photocopies, web resources, plant and geological samples that document's Michael's Spencer's considerable research interests.

Series VI: Medicinal Files, 1988-1996 contains alphabetical files on diseases and therapies. Not all these files relate to plants though many of them concern natural therapies.

Series VII: Lyman Smith Files: 1905-1994 holds alphabetical files that belonged to Lyman B. Smith. His notebooks, manscripts, teaching materials and correspondence may all be found here.

Series VIII: Personal Files, 1863-2014 contains alphabetical files showing Spencer's interest in collecting books and his wide interests. Materials that do not clearly belong in the other series may be found here.


  • Created: 1754-2014


Conditions Governing Access

The entire collection is open for research except for the manuscript of "Brazil: Orchid of the Tropics" and Miscellaneous items in Series VIII which are restricted by the donor. Researchers should petition the manuscript curator for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository, donor and the copyright holder.

Biographical or Historical Information

Michael A. Spencer was born in Orlando and grew up in Winter Garden, Florida. He worked at Sand Hill Nursery near Lake Avalon and the Land of Bromeliads in Gotha before finding employment with Julian Nally. After the Nally estate was sold, Spencer worked for Racine Foster at Bromel-La. He graduated from UCF in 1990 summa cum laude with a BA in Liberal Studies and then found employment with Lyman B. Smith at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Michael Spencer named a genus of bromeliads "Racinaea" in honor of Racine Foster. While engaged in his research, Spencer amassed this collection of materials concerning bromeliads and their collectors. He now lives in Frederick, Maryland where he has served on the Historic Preservation Commission since 2004.


88 Linear Feet (95 Boxes, 2 Flat Files)

Language of Materials



Collector, Michael A. Spencer amassed this collection of publications, photographs, drawings, correspondence programs and other materials focussing on the discovery, taxonomy and cultivation of bromeliads. Mulford B. Foster, Racine Foster and Lyman B. Smith are among the significant bromeliad collectors whose work is documented here.

Arrangement Note

The collection is divided into eight series by type of file.

Method of Acquisition

Some of these materials were donated to and others were purchased by the University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives from Michael A. Spencer in 2006 (CFM2006_09), 2011 (CFM2011_02), 2012 (CFM2012_10), and 2014 (CFM2014_01).

Related Materials

A large book collection accompanies this collection and may be accessed by performing a series search "Michael A. Spencer Collection" in the UCF Library Online Catalog. Michael A. Spencer Collection on Julian Nally, Michael A. Spencer Collection on Theodore Mead, Michael A. Spencer Collection on Henry Nehrling and the Henry Nehrling Papers are also available in Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries. Some paintings by Mulford Foster are held at the Harry P. Leu Gardens. The Henry Nehrling Collection and the Theodore L. Mead Collection are held at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida. Lyman Smith's Papers are held at the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Processing Information

Materials were rehoused in pH neutral folders and cartons. Photographs, negatives and slides were enclosed in polyester sleeves. Many of the materials were well organized and the arrangement was retained. The remainder were arranged by following the original arrangement as far as possible. Notes on folders were retained in the new folder. Paper clips were replaced with plastic clips or materials that belonged together were held together in a pH neutral paper sleeve. Loose-leaf notebooks that were badly rusted were discarded and the contents placed in folders. Items loose in the back of notebooks were foldered separately and marked accordingly. Notes from a film canister were written exactly as found as the label could not be removed. Albums falling apart were taken apart and foldered. Albums in reasonable condition had the photographs attached properly with corners and the pages interleaved to prevent sticking. Loose album pages in the Foster subseries on Plant Information were merely foldered as they were not in an album and were found without context.

Michael A. Spencer Bromeliad Research Collection
Judith Beale, Lindsay Mazziotto, Michelle Cortes, Katie Seeler, and Jeffrey Baumiller
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the UCF Special Collections Repository

Special Collections & University Archives
University of Central Florida Libraries
P.O. Box 162666
Orlando Florida 32816-2666 US
(407) 823-2576