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Manuscript Collections Search

Special Collections at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Library houses manuscripts and archival records documenting the history of agriculture and the USDA from the 19th through the 21st centuries. These collections include correspondence, field notes, journals, photographs, publications, posters, and other items of individuals who worked for or were associated with the USDA, individuals involved in non-USDA agricultural activities, and organizations related to agriculture. For more information or to schedule a visit, please contact Special Collections.


Displaying 1 - 25 of 469 Collections

Agricultural History Society (AHS) Records

The Agricultural History Society (AHS) Records contain meeting papers such as minutes, reports, programs, invitations, and financial statements; correspondence; and materials pertaining to the Agricultural History journal, such as administrative records, correspondence, award committee notes, reviewed articles, permission to publish forms, and information on symposiums given by the journal.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
The Agricultural History Society (AHS), founded in 1919, was one of the first specialized history groups. The distinguished botanist Rodney H. True was chosen as chair and later elected the first president of the society. The founding members were of diverse professions: historians, sociologists, economists, and other scientists who believed they could better comprehend their individual fields through an understanding of the history of agriculture. The society maintained a close association with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and successor organizations. Several employees of USDA have served as secretary-treasurer or editor of Agricultural History, or both. Today the society's stated purpose is "stimulating interest in, promoting the study of and facilitating research and publications on Rural Societies." The journal Agricultural History explores agricultural developments over time, in all regions, and among all peoples. Agricultural History is issued quarterly and publishes a range of articles on institutions, organizations, methodologies, and sciences—all of which have been contributing factors in agricultural growth. The journal includes research, book and film reviews, and special issues that unite diverse methodology under one agriculture history-related theme.
Collection Number: 2
Earliest Date: 1919
Latest Date: 2003
Linear Feet: 33.25
Subjects: Agricultural History; Agricultural Organizations

Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) Records

The Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) Records include some membership listings and directories, ARCLight newsletters (April 1956- July 1994), biographies of past presidents and significant early members, and meeting programs.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
The Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) was founded in December 1953 as a national professional association for practitioners of agricultural public relations. ARC conceived and organized the first U.S. Agricultural Communicators’ Congress (USACC) in Washington, D.C., in June 1984, and has coordinated a similar national program for every four years since.
Collection Number: 3
Earliest Date: 1956
Latest Date: 1994
Linear Feet: 3.75
Subjects: Agricultural Organizations

Agricultural Society of Albemarle Transactions Manuscript (Photostatic copy)

(MISSING) The Agricultural Society of Albemarle Transactions Manuscript (Photostatic copy) includes rules and regulations, records of new members, their signatures, minutes of meetings, and committee reports. Preceding the manuscript are two letters from Armistead C. Gordon, an attorney in Staunton, Virginia, to Rodney H. True, a botanist at the Bureau of Plant Industry, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), regarding the manuscript's origins and previous ownership.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
The Agricultural Society of Albemarle (Virginia) was formed in 1817 to promote the interests of agriculture, and rural and domestic economy. Many distinguished Virginians, including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were members. Staunton, Virigina attorney Armistead C. Gordon indicated that he was presented the photostatic copy of the manuscript by a descendant of one of the society's members and then sent it to the Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, in 1913. By 1917, the manuscript copy was in the possession of Rodney H. True, a botanist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bureau of Plant Industry, and he and Gordon were corresponding about its origins. The bookplate in the front cover indicates that True presented the manuscript copy to the National Agricultural Library.
Collection Number: 4
Earliest Date: 1817
Latest Date: 1828
Linear Feet: 0.25
Subjects: Agricultural History; Agricultural Organizations; Economics

Henry E. Alvord Correspondence

Henry E. Alvord's correspondence relates to the passage of An Act to Establish Agricultural Experiment Stations on March 2, 1887, and an amendment in 1890 authorizing appropriations for agricultural experiment stations. The collection contains petitions with suggestions on how to change the act.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
Henry E. (Henry Elijah) Alvord (1844-1904) was chairman of the executive committee of the Association of American Agricultural Colleges and Experimental Stations and president of Maryland Agricultural College from 1888-1892.
Collection Number: 5
Earliest Date: 1887
Latest Date: 1890
Linear Feet: 1
Subjects: Agricultural History

American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA) Records (now the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association)

The American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA) Records contains correspondence, constitution, bylaws, handbooks, directories, ledgers, invoices, newsletters, black and white and color photographs, membership listings, reports, policies, student chapters papers, publications, and papers of various committees. A majority of the records are drafts of articles for the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
The AAEA is a professional society for those interested in agricultural economics. The organization is committed to furthering knowledge about the economics of agriculture, rural communities, and natural resources. It was organized in 1910 as the American Farm Management Association, and became the American Farm Economics Association in 1914. In 1968 a subgroup left the organization and called itself the American Agricultural Economics Association.
Collection Number: 6
Earliest Date: 1938
Latest Date: 1994
Linear Feet: 145
Subjects: Agricultural Organizations; Economics; Farms and Farming Systems; Natural Resources
Formats: Photographs

American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) Records

Transferred to University of Illinois in 2010. American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) Records include correspondence of officers, the American Agricultural Editors Association constitution, minutes of meetings, committee notes, membership directories, reports, and Agricultural Editors Photo School correspondence and newsletters.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
The American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) was founded in 1921 by a small group of magazine editors to provide opportunities for professional improvement and networking to agricultural editors, writers and photojournalists.
Collection Number: 7
Earliest Date: 1944
Latest Date: 1987
Linear Feet: 28
Subjects: Agricultural Organizations

The Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) Records

The Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) Records includes newsletters, ACE Journal (quarterly), clip art books, communication handbooks, minutes of board meetings, annual meeting programs, correspondence, manuscript of "The Presidents of ACE," annual directories, early publications, and miscellaneous photographs.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
The Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) is an international association of communicators and information technologists. ACE members are writers, editors, photographers, graphic designers, videographers, electronic media producers, marketing and public relations practitioners, researchers, Web developers, database programmers, distance education specialists, educators, and managers. They work in universities, government agencies, and research organizations in the public sector, as well as companies and firms in the private sector. ACE develops professional skills of its members to extend knowledge about agriculture, natural resources and human sciences to people worldwide.
Collection Number: 8
Earliest Date: 1913
Latest Date: 1997
Linear Feet: 30
Subjects: Agricultural Organizations; Economics
Formats: Photographs

American Romney Breeders Association (ARBA) Records

American Romney Breeders Association (ARBA) Records consist of the American Romney Breeders Association's certificates of registry for ewes and rams.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
The American Romney Breeders Association (ARBA) was founded in 1912 by Joe Wing, a world traveler and expert on sheep. He became an early secretary of ARBA, and was instrumental in the development of Romney sheep in America.
Collection Number: 9
Earliest Date: 1919
Latest Date: 1980
Linear Feet: 48.5
Subjects: Agricultural Organizations; Animal Science
Digitization Status: None

American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) Records

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) Records consist mostly of photographs and negatives of people and places, organized and labeled by state and name of conference held within the state. Most photographs were taken at ASTA's annual meetings. Other organizational photographs include Southern Seedsmen’s Association, Western Seedsmen’s Association, and Pacific Seedsmen’s Association. The collection also includes minutes, constitutions, by-laws, letters, and memoranda of both New England Seedsmen’s Association and Seed Council of North America; as well as records of the ASTA’s National Beautification Committee papers (1967-1971), reports, committee papers, and seed packets.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
One of the oldest trade organizations in America, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) was founded in 1883. Its founding members wanted an effective voice of action in all matters concerning the development, marketing and free movement of seeds, associated products, and services throughout the world with a minimum of regulations affecting its members.
Collection Number: 10
Earliest Date: 1883
Latest Date: 1982
Linear Feet: 12.75
Subjects: Agricultural Organizations; Plant Science
Formats: Photographs

Thomas Arkell Account Book

The Thomas Arkell Account Book Collection consists of two account books, one covering the years 1829-1849, and one spanning 1854-1886. The earlier account book contains entries on dairy products, barley, oats, and the cradling and harvesting of wheat. The later account book, 1854-86, consists of pedigrees of Durham or Short Horned cattle bought and bred by Thomas Arkell on his Little Farmham Farm near Guelph, Canada.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
Thomas Arkell (ca. 1802-1875) was a native of Berkshire, England. He settled in Puslinch Township, Ontario, Canada, in May 1831 after living briefly in New York. He became a prominent sheep and cattle breeder in Puslinch and served as a magistrate there for more than 30 years.
Collection Number: 11
Collection Group: Dairy Science Collections
Earliest Date: 1829
Latest Date: 1886
Bulk Dates: 1829-1849 & 1854-1886
Linear Feet: 0.25
Subjects: Agricultural History; Animal Science; Farms and Farming Systems

Associates of the National Agricultural Library (NAL) Records

The Associates of the National Agricultural Library (NAL) Records consist of copies of the Journal of NAL Associates, newsletters, as well as other publications and promotional materials with which the Associates were involved.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
The Associates of the National Agricultural Library (NAL) was founded in 1970 to promote the development of the library by means of encouraging the donation of gifts and desirable collections, providing direct financial assistance for the purchase of unique items, aiding in public relations by informing the community about library services and challenges, and communicating the needs of the community to the library administration. In the 1990s, the organization dissolved.
Collection Number: 12
Earliest Date: 1971
Latest Date: 1989
Linear Feet: 11
Subjects: Agricultural Organizations; USDA History

Warren Bailey Papers

The Warren Bailey Papers include correspondence and information on meetings attended, unpublished reports by various authors on topics such as food production and farms, published reports by Bailey and various authors, and hand written reports and notes from college classes he attended on economics.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
Warren R. Bailey (1910-1984) joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1938 as an agricultural economist working in the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (BAE) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; and then Berkeley, California; before moving to Washington, D.C., in 1952. During the 1950s, he conducted research on farming problems in the western states. In the late 1960s he served as acting chief of the Production Adjustments Division of the Economic Research Service (ERS). Bailey worked at USDA for 36 years, retiring in 1974 as the deputy director of the Commodity Economics Division of ERS.
Collection Number: 13
Earliest Date: 1933
Latest Date: 1976
Linear Feet: 7
Subjects: Economics; Farms and Farming Systems; USDA History

Will L. Ball Collection: American Poultry Historical Society Papers

The Will L. Ball Collection contains materials related to poultry business and consists mostly of correspondence between breeders and suppliers of fancy poultry and game cocks. A selection of handwritten correspondence dated between 1881 and 1883 is addressed to Will L. Ball.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
Will L. Ball was a resident of Canada.
Collection Number: 14
Collection Group: Poultry Science Collections
Earliest Date: 1881
Latest Date: 1905
Linear Feet: 1.25
Subjects: Agricultural Organizations; Poultry

Cornelius Barnes Account Book

The Cornelius Barnes Account Book consists of accounting entries relating to the use of leather for the making of boots, shoes, and the binding of books.
Collection Number: 15
Earliest Date: 1802
Latest Date: 1809
Linear Feet: 0.25
Subjects: Agricultural History; Animal Science; Economics

Rolla Kent Beattie Photograph Collection

The Rolla Kent Beattie Photograph Collection consists of negatives that relate to trips to Colorado, California, Hawaii, Florida, the District of Columbia, Japan, Formosa (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Indochina, Cambodia, Malaya, China, France, and England, where he visited shrines, temples, pagodas, gardens, parks, graves, exhibits, and tourist areas. The images document cultural and scenic aspects of the trips.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
A forest pathologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from 1912-1945, Beattie (1875-1960) is notable for his studies of Northwest flora and chestnut blight. He spent three years in Asia for the USDA's Division of Forest Pathology surveying chestnut trees and related plants and gathering seeds to introduce disease-resistant strains to the United States.
Collection Number: 16
Collection Group: Plant Exploration Collections
Earliest Date: 1927
Latest Date: 1949
Linear Feet: 2.75
Subjects: Forestry; Plant Exploration; Plant Science
Formats: Photographs

Layne R. Beaty Papers

The Layne R. Beaty Papers focus on the history of farm radio and television broadcasting in the United States and on the origins and development of the National Farm and Home Hour, the most popular radio program in the 20th century. There are a small number of documents relating to the Voice of America and Clear Channel Broadcasting. His papers include photographs, correspondence, reports, surveys, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, farm radio and television station promotional literature, annual directories, reports and yearbooks, annual convention literature, and professional newsletters.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
Layne R. Beaty (1914? - 2007) was chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Radio and Television Service from 1954-1980. He graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1935. Between 1943 and 1951, he worked as farm editor of radio station WBAP in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1947, he served as president of the National Association of Radio Farm Directors (NARFD).
Collection Number: 17
Earliest Date: 1926
Latest Date: 1979
Linear Feet: 11
Subjects: Agricultural History; USDA History
Formats: Audiovisuals; Photographs
Digitization Status: None

Lyle Frederick Bellinger Collection of Gerow (Gerald) D. Brill Letters and Photographs

The Lyle Frederick Bellinger Collection of Gerow (Gerald) D. Brill Letters and Photographs contains materials received by Bellinger from 1897 to 1903 while Brill was posted to China by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Brill was based at the confluence of the Yangtze and Han Rivers, near the cities of Wusan, Hangkow, and Hangyan, in order to establish a school of agriculture. While working in China, Brill traveled extensively. These letters document Brill’s impressions of life in the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, and parts of Europe. There are 10 letters including envelopes, three envelopes only, and one postcard. The collection also includes eight black and white photographs, four of which have been colored by hand. The photographs document Chinese scenery, including the Great Wall of China (1916), as well as cultural and agricultural practices of the people. There is a 1901 portrait of Brill.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
Lyle Frederick Bellinger of Illion, New York and Gerow (or Gerald) D. Brill of Poughquay, New York became friends while attending Cornell University. Bellinger graduated in 1887 with a civil engineering degree. Brill graduated in 1888 with an agriculture degree. Their friendship lasted until the mid-20th century. Bellinger died in 1952.
Collection Number: 18
Earliest Date: 1897
Latest Date: 1916
Bulk Dates: 1897-1901
Linear Feet: 0.5
Subjects: Agricultural History; Farms and Farming Systems; Natural Resources; Plant Exploration; USDA History
Formats: Photographs
Digitization Status: None

P.J. Berckmans Company's Nurseries Records

P.J. Berckmans Company's Fruitland Nurseries Records contain an inventory of the nursery stock list dated 1918, purchase and shipping orders, a private letter, covers of catalogs, and a number of photographs of the nursery stock.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
The P.J. Berckmans Company's Fruitland Nurseries of Augusta, Georgia, were started in 1858 by P.J. Berckmans.
Collection Number: 19
Earliest Date: 1899
Latest Date: 1923
Linear Feet: 1
Subjects: Economics; Plant Science
Formats: Photographs
Digitization Status: None

Robert Selmer Bergland Collection

The Robert Selmer Bergland Collection includes press clippings containing information about him during his tenure in the U.S. Congress (1971-1977); and his background, experience, nomination, and approval as Secretary of Agriculture under the Carter administration. There is a photograph album of a trip to the Philippines presented to Bergland from the National Grains Authority.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
Robert Selmer (Bob) Bergland (1928-2018) was Secretary of Agriculture from 1977 to 1981 under President Jimmy Carter. He served as a U.S. Representative from Minnesota from 1971 to 1977, leaving Congress to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Collection Number: 20
Earliest Date: 1976
Latest Date: 1977
Linear Feet: 3
Subjects: USDA History
Formats: Photographs
Digitization Status: None

Herbert Beyers Collection: American Poultry Historical Society Papers

The Herbert Beyers Collection contains original issues or copies of Norbest News, Norbest Turkey News, and Norbest Market Letter. There are articles and reprints from trade journals and newspapers plus a brief biography highlighting Beyers’ accomplishments.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
Beyers (b. 1903) was general manager of Norbest Turkey Growers Association, the nation's largest turkey marketing organization, from 1933-1967, and became president in 1967. He was known as "Mr. Turkey, U.S.A." because of his prominence in the turkey industry for more than 40 years and he served as a constant advisor to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials on many of the laws and USDA regulations on turkey grading and inspection.
Collection Number: 21
Collection Group: Poultry Science Collections
Earliest Date: 1929
Latest Date: 1991
Linear Feet: 2.25
Subjects: Agricultural Organizations; Poultry; USDA History
Formats: Reprints
Digitization Status: None

John R. Block Collection

The John R. Block Collection includes press clippings containing information about John Block, Illinois; and his background, experience, nomination, and approval as Secretary of Agriculture under the Reagan administration.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
Block (b. 1935) was Secretary of Agriculture from 1981-1986.
Collection Number: 22
Earliest Date: 1980
Latest Date: 1981
Linear Feet: 1.25
Subjects: USDA History
Digitization Status: None

Anton Gabriel Blomquist Letters

The Anton Gabriel Blomquist Letters consist of correspondence from Blomquist to Franklin B. Hough, forest commissioner and first chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Division of Forestry, about forestry and the Forest Institute at Evois, Finland.
Collection Number: 23
Earliest Date: 1876
Latest Date: 1882
Linear Feet: 0.25
Subjects: Forestry; USDA History

James Bolton Manuscript

The James Bolton manuscript is the original manuscript Icones Fungorum Circa Halifax Sponte Nascentium [Halifax, England], 1784-1792. It contains notes and drawings upon which the author, James Bolton, based his published work, entitled, An History of Fungesses growing about Halifax (England), four volumes, 182 copper plates, Halifax, 1788-1791. The six manuscript volumes contain 242 watercolor plates representing the plants mostly in their natural size, with brief remarks on the page opposite each illustration indicating where and when the specimen was collected. Because some of his original names were tentative, Bolton went through the manuscript volumes and inserted at the top of each page the name finally adopted for publication with the citation of the plate upon which the species occurs in the published work.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
James Bolton (1750-1799) was a British mycologist who illustrated fungi. He became interested in fungi through his work on William Watson’s The History and antiquities of the parish of Halifax, in Yorkshire (1775). Bolton provided illustrations for several natural history publications, but he was best known for his book An history of the fungusses growing about Halifax (1788-1791). This book established Bolton’s place in mycology, and was a standard resource for the identification of mushrooms in the field.
Collection Number: 24
Earliest Date: 1776
Latest Date: 1795
Linear Feet: 0.75
Subjects: Agricultural History; Plant Science
Formats: Agricultural Art and Memorabilia
Digitization Status: None

Merritt Anderson Boone Collection: American Poultry Historical Society Papers

The Merritt Anderson Boone Collection includes a bibliography of Boone's published works; manuscripts and technical reports by Boone; correspondence; and reprints of some of his published articles. The collection contains items relating to poultry activities in South Carolina. There are materials from the South Carolina Poultry Extension Service and from various poultry short courses conducted by Clemson University between 1930 and 1979. Other components are minutes of the South Carolina Poultry Improvement Association meetings held in 1953-1955 and 1970-1974, and printer's dies from the 1965-1968 Association's yearbooks; approximately 1,000 35-millimeter color slides on various aspects of the poultry industry during the 1960s; and miscellaneous reprints, circulars, and bulletins pertaining to poultry breeding and industry from the 1939-1983 period.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
Merritt Anderson "Dan" Boone (1920-1993) was a professor of poultry science at Clemson University from 1947-1977. Originally from Geneva, Nebraska, he studied animal science at the University of Nebraska. He then served four years in the Veterinary Corps of the U.S. Army. While waiting to go to veterinary school, he decided to pursue a master’s degree in poultry science. In the meantime, Boone worked in both the dairy and poultry industries. He worked for the federal Milk Marketing Administration in Chicago and a dairy farm in Utah. He worked for the Michigan State Poultry Improvement Association before settling into a career as a research professor in poultry at Clemson University. While at Clemson, Boone worked primarily in genetics and physiology (where he contributed to heat stress research).
Collection Number: 25
Collection Group: Poultry Science Collections
Earliest Date: 1930
Latest Date: 1983
Linear Feet: 5
Subjects: Agricultural Organizations; Animal Science; Poultry
Formats: Reprints

Harry A. Borthwick Papers

The Harry A. Borthwick Papers contain reprints, experiment results, correspondence, abstracts, manuscripts, photographs, negatives, positives, maps, graphs, tables, charts, slides, and notebooks. There are indexes to the reprints, abstracts, photographs, and negatives.
Historical or Biographical Sketch
H. A. (Harry Alfred) Borthwick (1898-1974), plant physiologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is notable for heading the investigation on photoperiodism, which culminated in the discovery of phytochrome in plants. In 1995, he was named to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Science Hall of Fame in recognition of contributions in elucidating the importance of photoperiodic mechanisms controlling flowering in plants.
Collection Number: 26
Earliest Date: 1901
Latest Date: 1967
Linear Feet: 112
Subjects: Plant Science; USDA History
Formats: Maps; Photographs; Reprints
Digitization Status: None