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Agriculture in Maryland: Resources in Special Collections

This guide will recommend rich primary and secondary sources useful to scholars who wish to explore this history in more detail and navigate the rich resources available to study the history of agriculture in Maryland, from early farming activities, to th

Farming (University of Maryland Libraries)

Primary Sources

Brooke Family, Papers--17th through 20th century. The Brooke Family was a large land-holding colonial family whose records reveal various farm activities as well as what life was like on their farm-plantation, "Falling Green".

Chapman Family, Papers--19th century. John Grant Chapman, an affluent citizen and plantation owner in Charles County, Maryland, was active in state and national politics for over twenty-five years. A member of the Whig party, he served in the Maryland House of Delegates and then advanced to the Maryland Senate. From 1845 to 1848, Chapman served in the U. S. House of Representatives. Marshall Chapman, the second of John Grant Chapman's sons, inherited the Chapman estate upon his father's death in 1856. Much of the personal correspondence in this collection concerns this branch of the Chapman family. The financial papers detail Marshall's agricultural work as a producer of tobacco and wheat.

Collins, Charles Wallace, Papers--20th century. Charles Wallace Collins had a long career as a lawyer, writer, and librarian in Washington, DC. Following his retirement in 1927, Collins devoted himself to restoring and renovating his home, an eighteenth-century estate known as "Harmony Hall," and other properties he owned in Prince George's County, Maryland. Areas of emphasis in the collection include the restoration of Harmony Hall and the daily maintenance of the surrounding farm.

Hamilton Family, Papers--19th and 20th century. The papers of the Hamilton family of Charles County, Maryland, document family members as well as other contemporary leading figures of Charles County. The collection consists primarily of correspondence and addresses such topics as tobacco and agriculture, family matters, slavery, and the Civil War.

Shipley, E. Roderick and Arthur M., Papers--20th century. E. Roderick (1915-1984) and Arthur M. (1878-1955) Shipley, were members of an old land-owning family in Maryland; both pursued medicine as a professional career. The Shipley collection consists primarily of a materials documenting late nineteenth and early twentieth century life in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore, Maryland. Included in the collection are 570 picker's checks, tokens used to pay seasonal laborers for harvesting crops, other farm-related artifacts, World War II memorabilia, playbills from the 1901-1902 theater season in Baltimore, and photographs.

Thomas Family, Papers--18th and 19th century. The papers include eleven letters and six documents from three generations of the Philip Thomas family of Cecil County, Maryland. Major topics include family concerns and farming.

Weems/Reynolds Family, Papers--18th through 20th century. This collection contains the papers of the Weems Family, one of the oldest families in Maryland, and of the Reynolds and Petherbridge families, who were related to the Weems by marriage. The collection documents the shift in the roles they played from slave-holding farmers to mercantilist store and ship owners, and finally to urban professionals. The correspondence between male family members is often related to agriculture or business. The women's letters, on the other hand, often express nostalgia for the family plantations.

Wood, William W. W., Papers--19th century. Wood served in the U. S. Navy for thirty-five years. He was the owner of "Jutland", a farm in St. Mary's County, Maryland. In his letters to his overseer, A. L. Taveau, he expresses a desire to conduct fertilizer experiments utilizing oyster shells and "blue sand" found on his property. Wood also investigated the possibility of growing sugar cane and producing sugar for profit.

Farming (National Agricultural Library)

Primary Sources

Coxe, William, Manuscript. [ca. 1810-ca. 1831]. The two-volume manuscript is undated and contains 832 pages and an atlas of colored plates. Coxe (1762-1831), a pomologist, was one of the foremost fruit growers in America who experimented with new varieties of fruits from home and abroad. In 1817, he published A View of the Cultivation of Fruit Trees in America. The manuscript for a second edition with text and colored plates painted by Elizabeth Coxe McMurtrie and her sisters was never published. It is considered by many specialists as the illustrative evidence of fruit culture during the colonial and revolutionary period of the new American nation.

Kerr, Howard W. (Bud), Papers. 1982-1994. The papers contain letters, memos, correspondence, reports, newspapers, newsletters, and publications from Kerr (b. 1932), who was director, Office for Small-Scale Agriculture. In 1984, Secretary of Agriculture John R. Block assigned a team of USDA policy and technical experts to produce ways for the federal government to assist small-scale farms and Kerr was named to oversee the new effort. In 1986, Kerr was named director of the newly-created Office for Small-Scale Agriculture which, in 1987, became part of the Cooperative State Research Service (CSRS).

Mosher, Martin L., Manuscripts. 1965-1974. Mosher (b. 1882) spent more than forty years working for the Agricultural Extension Service in Iowa and Illinois; the last twenty-seven years of his career were spent as Farm Management Specialist in the Agricultural Extension Service in Illinois. During his career, Mosher received some of the highest honors given to extension workers. His seven volume manuscript titled "Farmstead Pictures of the United States of North America at the Middle of the Twentieth Century" (1965) contains 570 mounted illustrations textually documented, depicting the historic, geographic, and economic setting of farm people within each of the states. His two-volume manuscript, "The Cornbelt's Last Open Pollenated Corn" (1974) is an historic study of open pollinated corn such as was grown by Cornbelt farmers during the years immediately preceding the general introduction of hybrid corn.

National Commission on Small Farms (NCSF) Records. 1997-1998. Documents relate to the work of the National Commission on Small Farms (NCSF) established by Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman in 1997. The committee was charged to study the problems of small and limited resource farmers and to make recommendations to help those farmers. Records include administrative files; transcripts (paper, tape and disk) of public hearings; letters from small farmers; executive correspondence; memos; drafts and final copy of "Report of the USDA National Commission on Small Farms: A Time to Act"; letterhead and design for final report; email requests for copies of the NCSF report; computer disks of small farm documents; committee reports within the NCSF; and miscellaneous resource documents.

Secondary Sources

Alternative Farming Systems Information Center

Farmland Information Center