On Aug. 19, fifty people including staff from the University of Maryland, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), National Agriculture Library (NAL), members of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Professional Soil Scientists, Rutgers University, and the Firman E. Bear Soil and Water Conservation Society gathered at the NAL for a ceremony to convey a historic 1916 U.S. soils collection. The donor, Jill Guenther, a Vineland, NJ educator, donated a historic collection of U.S. soils to the Library where the collection will be archived for safekeeping, included in Library exhibits, and available upon request for onsite inspection.
After a welcome from Acting NAL Director Stan Kosecki and opening remarks from ARS National Program Leader Sally M. Schneider, NRCS Assistant Chief Kirk Hanlin and Deputy Chief for SSRA David Smith shared their insights into the importance of soil education in the past, present and future and their enthusiasm for this donation. Jill Guenther also spoke and was then presented with a certificate commemorating her donation.
Stephanie Murphy, director of the Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory and president of the Firman E. Bear Soil and Water Conservation Society, attended the event. “The staff at the National Agricultural Library and invited speakers provided a wonderful welcome and proper celebration for the receipt of the 1916 soils of U.S. collection.”
She added that “Jill Guenther was amazed at the ceremony and the appreciation that she was given for the discovery and donation of the “treasure”, and she was pleased at the enthusiasm that the speakers and audience displayed for the soil sample collection. Guests were provided a tour of the secure “Special Collections” floor where other treasures are curated and the soil samples will be preserved. I was very pleased to be included in the invitation list to attend the ceremony in Beltsville.”
The soil sample collection was sent out by U.S. Bureau of Soils “for use of schools and colleges teaching of agriculture and physical geography” and represented the “principal agricultural soils of the United States.” With the collection is a bulletin, “Important Soils of the United States,” which was already in the NAL – yet without a soils collection. Murphy added, “It’s possible that some of the soils are from New Jersey; for example, Sassafras series is one used to represent ‘Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain Province’.”
The 1916 U.S. soils collection will be preserved in NAL’s Special Collections, available at special events and by appointment.