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James M. Gwin Poultry Collection


The arrangement and description of the James M. Gwin Poultry Collection and the register were prepared by Margaret Shea and Sinan K. Farran both graduate students in Poultry Science at the University of Maryland. Final description of the collection and introductory notes were prepared by Idalia P. Acosta, Head of the Cataloging Branch and coordinator in the library of the activities related to the Gwin collection, such as the preparation of this register and the World List of Poultry Serials published in August 1989. The American Poultry Historical Society contributed $5,000 and the National Agricultural Library $2,500 for the completion of the register.

The register could never have been completed without the outstanding dedication, investigative research, and commitment to excellence of Raymond Schar and Corlette Calvert, retired poultry scientists of ARS who examined the collection, reorganized it and wrote the different series of which this collection is composed.

Finding Aid File


Biographical Sketch

Born in Blair County, Pennsylvania, in 1906, Dr. Gwin pursued a lifetime interest in poultry to gain national recognition as an educator, administrator, promoter, and one of the world's most persistent collectors of poultry literature. His extensive collection of "poultry papers" and books now resides in the National Agricultural Library. It is recognized as one of the world's most completer poultry information resources.

Dr. Gwin's education included a B.S. in Poultry Husbandry, University of Connecticut; an M.A., American University; and a Ph.D., Cornell. He served in every phases of the poultry industry: as a military procurement officer in WWII; as a regulatory official in grading and inspection; as a professor of poultry husbandry; as a Director of Extension (University of Maryland); as a marketing manager for a major feed supplier; as general manager of the Poultry & Egg National Board; and as Professor of Marketing (University of Illinois, Edwardsville).

Dr. Gwin was charter member of the American Poultry Historical Society, served as its president (1960 - 1962), and was elected to the American Poultry Hall of Fame in 1977. Gwin's awards and honors would fill a college textbook, and much of the poultry and egg grading system in place today is a result of his groundwork.

Dr. Gwin was married to Helen Woodward, and had three children, Gailyn, Geniel (Strock), and Graydan. He was affectionately known throughout the poultry industry as "Jimmy." On July 10, 1993, the poultry world suffered a great loss with passing of this man who so devoted his life to its industry.

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Dr. James M. Gwin (1906 - 1993), which span the years 1916-1969, were deposited in the National Agricultural Library early in 1972. Dr. Gwin's collection is probably the largest personal poultry-related collection in the world. This collection, which occupies 72 linear feet of shelf space, consists primarily of business correspondence pertaining to several poultry associations, catalogs of poultry manufacturing firms, documents about early breeders in the poultry industry, egg and poultry legislation, papers on meetings for the different states of the United States, and several other miscellaneous clippings of publications related to the egg and poultry industry.

Linear feet of shelf occupied: 72
Approximate number of items: 50,000

Key to the collection: An asterisk (*) in the file folder listing (e.g., *5, NBC-Finances/Marketing/Trends) indicated that there is oversize material (i.e., material larger that 8 1/2 x 11 inches) for that subject. The oversize boxes are at the end of the collection. "See Oversize" on the file folder listing indicates that material on that subject heading will be found only in the oversize section of the collection.

When a box number appears followed by a number in parenthesis, i.e, 68(4) the reader should start looking at the file folder number 4 in the box 68.

Header entries for each box, which are in bold in the file folder listing, are markers for the beginning of a specific subject area. They are an explanation for the contents of the box (e.g., National Turkey Federation that will be represented by NTF or a state like Idaho, New York, etc., or plainly the generic entry of the contents such as Farm/Hatcheries, Poultry Equipment and Companies, etc.

Series Description

The Gwin collection is divided into 9 series: I. National and Regional Federations, Associations, Boards, Clubs, etc.; II. Correspondence dealing with Poultry Industry Issues; III. Commercial Marketing and Cooperative Organizations and Catalogs; IV. States and Countries - Poultry Information; V. Research and Technical Information - Companies and Laboratories; VI. Breeds, Breeding Farms and Hatcheries; VII. Equipment; VIII. Feed and Feed Milling Companies; IX. Federal Legislation, Programs and Reports.

I. The first series (Boxes 1-51) includes over 450 individual documents and publications, including correspondence, reports newsletters, conference proceedings, speeches, directories, yearbooks, and promotional materials relating to national and regional poultry federations, associations, boards, clubs, etc., which had a profound influence on the emerging United States commercial poultry industry in the early and middle twentieth century.

Documents from various national poultry organizations such as the Institute of American Poultry Industries (IAPI), the American Poultry and Hatchery Federation (APHF), the National Broiler Council (NBC), and the National Turkey Federation (NTF), as well as regional organizations including the Northeast Poultry Producers Council (NEPPCO) and the Pacific Egg and Poultry Association (PEPA), trace the history of the poultry industry and outline activities and steps undertaken to advance poultry as a major source of animal protein.

Reports, abstracts, and journals of the Poultry Science Association, an organization of poultry scientists who worked hand-in-hand with industry, are also included.

II. The second series (Boxes 52 and 53) contains correspondence related to publishing companies, poultry tattooing. Consumer preferences, turkey marketing orders, etc. Publications and brochures on these and other subjects are also included.

III. The third series (Boxes 54 - 64) contained documents on the policies and practices in marketing poultry products of supermarkets and grocery chain stores during 1960-61. Egg marketing recommendations by feed companies in the 1940's are also included. Histories of cooperatives from New Jersey to California, which started operating in the 1930's, trace producer efforts to create an orderly market fro their eggs and poultry. Individual records and reports of about 20 of these cooperatives are given.

Listings and catalogues of various early poultry, pigeon, and pet shows, including those held in Madison Square Garden, are found in this series. Advertisements and brochures of early incubator manufacturing are included.

IV. The fourth series contains an extensive collection of State poultry yearbooks, handbooks, reports by poultry shows and egg laying contests, Poultry Extension publications and reprints, egg and poultry legislation, and poultry health tips. Marketing publications from the majority of the States and many State Poultry Association minutes and reports help give a well rounded view of the early poultry industry in the United States. Included is a 1914 Rhode Island report entitled "Egg Producers Problems" and a 1969 report from the Maine poultry Improvement Association.

The foreign country collection contains rules and regulations from the various central governments, and university reports and reprints on poultry research from each of the 13 countries involved. Included are the 1905 research reprints from University College, Reading, England, and a 1964 Israeli report, "Long Term Projections of Supply and Demand for Agricultural Products in Israel."

V. The fifth series contains information concerning research on problems in many areas of the poultry industry. Extensive work was conducted and reported on egg washing, storing , transportation, grading, quality control, and marketing. Studies of cholesterol in the egg are also reported.

Aspects of early poultry research (1898 and 1905) provide an interesting insight into problems encountered by poultrymen long before the commercial industry was developed. Radiation as a possible means of extending shelf life of dressed poultry is discussed.

Information is provided on the early production of broilers as compared to the practices developed in the late 1940's, which led to the explosive growth of the segment of the industry.

Technical information on the development of poultry equipment and drugs by commercial companies and laboratories is provided. Early product development, in both egg and poultry meat, by commercial and private agencies, is also discussed. Information on technical services provided to the poultry industry by companies laboratories, and public agencies are also outlined.

VI. The sixth series contains information on some of the primary chicken and turkey breeding farms which had their start prior to the time the poultry initiated its period of rapid growth in the mid-1940's. Brochures on over 60 breeding and commercial poultry farms are included. Also included are yearbooks and breed publications of some of the more popular breeds or varieties of chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese.

VII. The seventh series contains several hundred brochures from a wide variety of manufactures of equipment and products used by the many facets of the poultry industry. They include the basic housing of poultry, information on insulation, ventilation, humidity control and heating, including equipment such ass brooders, feeders, waters, foggers, and cages which were necessary to keep pace with the growth of the industry prior to the late 1960's,

Considerable attention is given to eggs, with equipment being made available for washing, candling, oiling, cooling, packaging, storing, and merchandising. Much information will be found on packaging materials.

Equipment used in the processing of poultry is described, including equipment developed to produce new poultry products. The new equipment included are boning devices, cookers, breading machines, tendon pullers, and improved machines for stunning, killing, scalding, picking and cooling carcasses at the processing plant.

VIII. Advances in nutrition have probably played as large a part as any of the other sciences in the emergence of poultry as a major source of animal protein in the human diet. This series contains brochures and other information from over 75 feed milling and ingredient companies, cooperatives, and councils. By-products from other industries, vitamins, trace minerals, etc., were all part of commercial feedstuffs, and the growth of their use can be found here.

IX. Federal legislation related to the poultry industry from 1933 until the late 1960's is part of this series. Legislation on eggs and poultry grading, turkey support programs, and poultry and hatcheries under the National Recovery Act (NRA), are among the subjects contained in this collection.

Details of federal programs for purchasing poultry, poultry inspection, parity and price support, the National Poultry Improvement Plan, and others are also found in this series. Reports concerning poultry transportation problems, fair competition for poultry and egg producers, and poultry statistics provide the reader with an insight into early poultry practices and problems.

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