59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

A Finding Aid to the Nelson Coon Publications

Descriptive Summary

RepositoryMartha's Vineyard Museum, Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539
Call NumberRU525
Creator Coon, Nelson
TitleNelson Coon publications
Date1944-1965, undated
Extent1 box (0.252 cubic feet)
LanguageThe materials are in English.
AbstractThis collection includes 6 publications written by Nelson Coon on various topics.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use and Reproduction Restrictions

Requests to reproduce material from this collection should be directed to the library's staff. Reproduction fees may apply.

Preferred Citation

Martha's Vineyard Museum, RU 525, Nelson Coon Publications.

Acquisition Information

The immediate source of acquisition and date of accession are unknown.

Publication Information

Martha's Vineyard Museum

Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Lara J. Ullman and machine-encoded by Nathaniel Janick in May 2015.

 Creation of this finding aid was sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Index Terms


  • Publications (document genre)

Geographic Name(s)

  • Martha’s Vineyard (Mass.)


  • McGaw, Frances


  • Blind--Education
  • Guide dogs--History
  • Horticulture--Massachusetts--Martha’s Vineyard

Biography/Historical Note

Nelson Coon was born on March 26, 1895, in Rhinebeck, New York, to Elmer Coon and Mattie (Dedrick) Coon. He attended Union College in Schenectady, New York. Coon began working as a horticulturist before enlisting in the United States Army in 1917. He served as a sergeant-major in France and England until his discharge on December 12, 1918. After returning from war, Coon went back to Rhinebeck where he founded a nursery and developed a florist business. In 1919, he married Vesta Van Vredenburgh and the two worked together to grow the business Coon started.

Coon began the writing portion of his career in 1916 with an article for the local newspaper. Over the next 69 years he went on to write 12 books and countless articles for newspapers and magazines. In the late 1920s Coon and Vesta moved to Watertown, Massachusetts, where they both took jobs at the Perkins School for the Blind, Vesta as a Spanish teacher and Nelson as a groundskeeper and then as librarian and museum curator. After 30 years at the Perkins School, Nelson and Vesta retired and moved to Martha’s Vineyard. He became an active member of the Dukes County Historical Society (what later became the Martha’s Vineyard Museum) and served as the Society’s president from 1964-1967. Coon was a member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, the American Horticultural Society, and the Garden Writers Association of America. Vesta Van Vredenburgh died on April 25, 1976, in Tisbury, Massachusetts. Nelson Coon died on January 10, 1988, in Wayland, Massachusetts.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists of six publications written by Nelson Coon about various topics including horticulture, education of the blind, and dog guides for the blind.


The collection is arranged chronologically.

Contents of Collection


“Common Wild Plants of Martha’s Vineyard.” Compiled and Edited by Frances McGaw and Nelson Coon, 1944 


“The Place of the Museum in the Education of the Blind” by Nelson Coon, 1953 


“A Brief History of Dog Guides for the Blind” by Nelson Coon, 1959 


Galley of “A Check List of the Plants of the Island of Martha’s Vineyard in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts” by Nelson Coon, 1963 or after 


“A Home Arboretum” by Nelson Coon, 1965 


“A List of Collected and Observed Plants of the Coastal Island of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.” by Nelson Coon and Frances McGaw, undated