Dorsett-Morse Oriental Expedition
The Dorsett-Morse Oriental Agricultural Exploration Expedition Collection occupies 31.5 linear feet, in 25 flat pamphlet boxes, one flat folio box, five photograph negative boxes, three oversized photograph negative boxes, and two document boxes. The collection consists of seven photograph albums, two scrapbooks, 16 journals, more than 900 photographs and negatives, postcards, travel brochures, greeting cards, and other ephemera. The materials recount Palemon Howard Dorsett and William Joseph Morse's 1929-1932 Asian expedition, illustrating plant varieties and uses, landscapes, and cultural practices. The major purpose of the expedition was to study the planting, cultivation, and harvest of soybean varieties, and to send samples home to the United States for further investigation. During the early twentieth century soybeans had become a crop of interest for American farmers, and the information provided by the Dorsett-Morse Expedition was invaluable to the advancement of the American soybean industry.
The photograph albums were acquired by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Library in 1944. As a result of a 2002 web exhibit, to complement the photograph albums, the Arnold Arboretum donated more than 900 photographs and negatives to Special Collections of the National Agricultural Library (NAL). In 2003, the American Soybean Association placed the Dorsett-Morse Expedition journals on permanent loan in Special Collections. William Morse's daughter Margaret donated a scrapbook and other personal effects in 2004. The collection materials are in good condition. The photograph album portion of the collection was processed and a corresponding finding aid and web exhibit were completed April 5, 2002 by Stephanie M. Boehmer, a graduate student at the University of Maryland, College of Information Studies. The loose photographs and negatives, scrapbooks, official journals and personal items were processed and a comprehensive finding aid for all parts of the collection was completed in 2005 by Kara L. Boehne, also a graduate student at the University of Maryland, College of Information Studies. Additional negatives were added in 2006 by Amber Thiele, Chesapeake Information and Research Library Alliance Fellow.