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M. Truman Fossum Floriculture Collection


The papers of M. Truman Fossum span the years 1890-1990; the bulk of the material focuses on the period 1945-85. They were deposited in the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland, between April 1982 and October 1983 under the terms of a cooperative agreement signed by Mr. Fossum, North Dakota State University, and the National Agricultural Library. M. Truman Fossum, originator of statistical, marketing, and related economic research and information services for commercial floriculture, has dedicated any literary rights including copyrights that he possesses in the collection to the public. The public has access to all but 56 boxes in the collection. These 56 boxes (263(4)-314 and 317-321) will remain closed until the donor's death. The collection was arranged and described by Lisa Karpinski, a Graduate Student in Horticulture at the University of Maryland.

Finding Aid File


Biographical Sketch

1912, March 14: Born in Maxbass, North Dakota; the first of 10 children born to Minnick and Gussty Lewison Fossum on the Fossum farm located near Maxbass in Bottinneau County.

1929: Graduated from Maxbass High School as valedictorian of class of 12.

1929-1931: Engaged in all phases of crop and livestock farming on the Fossum farm in North Dakota.

1931-1933: Attended North Dakota School of Forestry, Bottineau, North Dakota, and received a Certificate of Completion in a 2-year course in Greenhouse and Nursery Practice.

1933-1935: Superintendent of greenhouses, nursery, and grounds, North Dakota Tuberculosis Sanatorium, San Haven. Involved in directing WPA, PWA, and CCC Camp Construction activities at the Sanatorium and at the International peace Garden, which was dedicated in 1932.

1935-1936: Leave of absence from position at the North Dakota Tuberculosis Sanatorium to study horticulture, botany, and related subjects at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, in Surrey, England. Received Certificate of Completion.

1936-1938: Assistant Foreman, New York Botanical Garden. Received a Certificate of Completion from a 2-year course at the New York Botanical Garden.

1938-1940: B.S. degree in Agriculture with the major emphasis on floriculture and ornamental horticulture, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

1940-1942: M.S. degree in Agriculture completed in 1941 with the major emphasis on floriculture and ornamental horticulture, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

1942-1943: Assistant professor, Department of Horticulture, University of Maryland College Park, Md. In response to the rapid conversion of the University of Maryland to wartime activities entered the private sector to gain further commercial experience in ornamental horticulture.

1943-1945: Technical Advisor, Inspector and Seedsman, Fred C. Gloeckner Co. Inc., New York, N.Y.

1945-1949: Assistant Professor of Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. While on the faculty at Cornell, granted leave of absence to study at both Cornell University and Purdue University.

1945-1947: Graduate student in Agricultural Economics, Cornell University.

1947-1948: Graduate student in Agricultural Economics, Purdue University.

1949: Director of Research and Member Services, Society of American Florists (SAF).

1949-1952: On loan from SAF to Bureau of the Census. Served as Consultant, Special Agent. Agricultural Economist, and Survey Statistician, Agriculture Division, Department of Commerce. While working at the Bureau of the Census, conducted a special census of horticultural specialities and served in an advisory capacity for several governmental organizations including the Small Business Division of the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice and the Department of Agriculture.

April 1952-June 1956: On loan from SAF to U.S. Department of Agriculture. Served as Consultant and Agricultural Economist, Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Duties included statistical marketing research and development of information services for non-food horticulture.

1956-1958: Director of Research and Assistant to FTD Account Executives, Grant Advertising New York, N.Y.

1958-1960: Research Analyst and Assistant to FTD Account Executives, Keyes, Madden and Jones Advertising, Chicago, Ill.

1960-1970: Director of Research and Economic Analyst, FTD.

1971-1973: Consultant, Fossum Facts for Floriculture, Detroit, Mich. Started own consulting firm in 1971. In 1973 moved the business from Michigan to Washington, D.C. During this move, changed the firm name from "Fossum Facts for Floriculture" to "Marketing Facts for Floriculture".

1973-1983: Consultant, Marketing Facts for Floriculture, Washington, D.C.

Scope and Content Note

The papers of M. Truman Fossum, which occupies 213 linear feet of shelf space, consists primarily of statistical and marketing data, personal and business correspondence, published and unpublished surveys of the floriculture industry, and projections of future trends in the floriculture industry. The original order of the collection was kept to maintain provenance and to fulfill the wishes of the originator, M. Truman Fossum.

The Fossum collection is divided into four series: I. General Reference; II. Floriculture Career; III. Biographical; and IV. Additions. The first series entitled "General Reference" contains materials relating to marketing research and information for commercial floriculture in the United States and abroad, miscellaneous business and personal correspondence, and variety of magazines including supplements to "The Packer."

The second and largest series contains information of the floriculture career of M. Truman Fossum. Included in this section are several important statistical surveys of the floriculture industry that the donor prepared. This group also contains a report entitled "Trade in Horticultural Specialities," dated 1890-1950. This report, along with a "Forecast of Projections" for the years 1981-90, is the basis for the 100-year timespan of the collection. With these surveys excluded, the bulk of the collection falls between 1945 and 1985. It was during these years that Mr. Fossum worked for some of the most prominent organizations in the floriculture industry. These included the Society of American Florists (SAF), Grant Advertising, Keys Madden and Jones Advertising, Florists' Telegraph Delivery Association (FTD), and Marketing facts of Floriculture.

The third series, entitled "Biographical," contains the personal papers of M. Truman Fossum, Included here are professional and business records from 1929 to 1985, personal information about the collector's life from grade school forward, employment and biographical data, records of the Fossum Foundation Library in North Dakota, and financial statements. This section will remain closed until Mr. Fossum's death.

The fourth series contains a wide variety of material that was added to the collection after the original gift. These additional papers are an attempt by Mr. Fossum to keep the collection current.

Each series consists of subseries and each subseries (organized by box number) consists of the file folders, listed at the end of the register. The file folder listings mirror the subject headings contained within each box. All material of standard size (8 1/2 by 11 inches) is in letter-size boxes and any oversize material has been separated and can be found in 24 by 24 inch boxes at the end of the collection. Asterisks have been used in the file folder listing to indicate the presence of oversize material.

Linear feet of shelf space occupied: 213
Approximate number of items: 150,000

Key to the collection: An Asterisk (*) in the file folder listing(e.g., *2 Advertising) indicates that there is oversize material (i.e., material larger than 8 1/2 by 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.

"Oversize Only" on a file folder indicates that only oversize material is located in that folder. No letter-size material will be found under that subject heading.

When a box number appears followed by a number in parenthesis (i.e., 263 (4)), the reader should start looking at file folder number 4 in box 263.

Header folders, which are in bold in the file folder listing, are markers for the beginning of a specific subject area. These subject areas may either be titles or dates (e.g., Latin America, Wholesale Markets, or 1956). In contrast to other numbered folders in the file folder listing, header folders do not contain documents.

Series Description

Series I. General Reference. 1890-1990. 134 Boxes.

  • Subseries 1. Reference Material. 1890-1990. 102 Boxes.
  • General reference and special bibliographic material. Included are newspaper and magazine articles, business and personal correspondence, and reports and publications related to the fields of marketing and horticulture. Arranged alphabetically or chronologically as appropriate.

  • Subseries 2. International Information. 1955-81. 20 Boxes.
  • Consists of business reports, pamphlets, and brochures on floricultural economics in Canada. Europe, Latin America, and other countries around the world. Includes business reports dealing with the International Trade Commission and FTD (87(7)-95(1) and several boxes on International Botanical establishments (240(5-243(14)). Arranged alphabetically and chronologically.

  • Subseries 3. Miscellaneous Magazines. 1954 and 1972-81. 1 Box.
  • This box contains the Golden Anniversary Issue of Horticulture Magazine, the Centennial Issue of American Nurseymen, a variety of issues and supplements of The Packer including "Flower Marketing" and "Ideas in Merchandising". Arranged chronologically.

  • Subseries 4. Miscellaneous Business and Personal Correspondence. 1890- 1982. 11 Boxes.
  • A variety of business reports, studies, and census reports on trends in the floriculture industry. Also included is a wide variety of information about different companies in the field of floriculture as well as information on people in the fields of floriculture and business. Arranged chronologically.

Series II. Floriculture Career. 1949-81. 99 Boxes.

  • Subseries 1. Business Reports in Floriculture. 1945-56. 9 Boxes.
  • Business reports prepared by Mr. Fossum while working at Cornell University. The Society of American Florists, The Bureau of the Census, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • Subseries 2. USDA. 1948-81. 41 Boxes.
  • Includes a variety of reports and information collected by Mr. Fossum while employed by the USDA Economic Research Service. Also included are Market news Summaries, business and inspection reports on grades and standards for floriculture crops, crop estimates done for the USDA Statistical Reporting Service (SRS), and reports produced by Mr. Fossum on regional projects in marketing for horticultural specialities. Arranged chronologically.

  • Subseries 3. U.S. Department of Commerce - Bureau of the Census. 1948-52. 5 Boxes.
  • Employee information such as handbooks and reference manual from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Arranged by title.

  • Subseries 4. Career Correspondence. 1945-70. 52 Boxes.
  • Correspondence produced during Mr. Fossum's 50-year career in the floriculture industry. Includes correspondence from Grant Advertising, Keyes, madden and Jones, and FTD along with miscellaneous correspondence dealing with floriculture and economics. Arranged alphabetically and chronologically.

  • Subseries 5. Energy. 1973-78 & 1981. 6 Boxes.
  • Information, in the form of reports, on energy usage in floriculture. Also included here are conference reports distributed by the American marketing Association, McGraw Hill Publications, The Conference Board, and the World Future Society. Arranged chronologically.

  • Subseries 6. Economic and Marketing Studies. 1948-91. 15 Boxes.
  • This section comprises business forecasts and economic outlook reports, projection reports, studies of the floriculture industry. Merrill Lynch Economic Planning Reports (74(2)-79), national Trends in Ornamental Horticulture (96-98(6)), and questionnaires dealing with consumer preferences for floral products (98(7)-99(4)). Arranged chronologically.

Series III. Biographical. 1929-85. 66 Boxes.

  • Subseries 1. Biographical Records. 1929-85. 43 Boxes.
  • Includes biographical information on Mr. Fossum's personal and family life, as well as honors and awards, resumes used, and employers. Also included is information on the Fossum Foundation (279(12)-282(3)) and the Fossum Foundation Library at North Dakota State University, Bottineau Branch (282(21)-285).

  • Subseries 2. Business Records. 1950-83. 23 Boxes.
  • Included are tax records, FTD account expenses, business expenses for Marketing Facts for Floriculture, marketing and economic books and canceled checks. Arranged chronologically.

Series IV. Additions. 1979-86. 13 Boxes.

  • Subseries 1. Additions to the Collection. 1979-86. 13 Boxes.
  • These boxes contain information that was added to the collection after receipt of the original gift. Specifically they included personal and business records, anniversary and commemorative publications, copies of Marvin Miller's thesis, cassette tapes, slides, memorabilia, and information on the Fossum Foundation Library at north Dakota State University, Bottineau Branch. Arranged alphabetically and chronologically.

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