Other Finding Aid :For location information, refer to the Denver Public Library Catalog.
The Hugh Hammond Bennett Papers were obtained as part of a donation through Arthur Carhart.
The collection is open for research.
The Hugh Hammond Bennett Papers are the physical property of the Denver Public Library.
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[Identification of item], Hugh Hammond Bennett Papers, CONS9, Conservation Collection, The Denver Public Library.
Number of boxes: 7
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE :
Hugh Hammond Bennett is widely regarded as "the father of soil conservation." His efforts to promote control of erosion led to the establishment of the Soil Conservation Service and thousands of soil conservation districts across the United States. He described his approach to promoting soil conservation as "science, farmer participation, publicity, and Congressional relations." Bennett's relentless touring and speaking on behalf of soil conservation were just one part of his approach to selling soil conservation, but one that he considered important. A portion of the numerous speeches and papers written by Bennett make up the bulk of this collection.
Bennett was born on his parents' farm near Wadsboro, North Carolina, in 1881. He spent his youth on the family farm, which was adversely affected by soil erosion. The rest of his life Bennett remembered this seasonal washing away of the best land owned by his family. In 1897, he entered the University of North Carolina, but was forced to take a two-year break from his studies due to financial problems. He graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1903. After college, he went to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture doing soil surveys across the South. He worked in various positions throughout the Department of Agriculture, before moving to the position of Supervisor of Soil Surveys in 1909.
A major promotion came in 1929, when he was put in charge of soil erosion and moisture conservation for the Bureau of Chemistry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Through his knowledge and persistence in promoting soil conservation, he became chief of the Soil Erosion Service, and, following a reorganization of the department, Chief of the Soil Conservation Service. Throughout this time in his life, Bennett toured the United States giving speeches at a wide variety of gatherings. His ideas on soil conservation became well known throughout the world. Many countries invited Bennett to present his ideas on soils, including Honduras, Guatemala, Cuba, Venezuela, and South Africa.
Bennett wrote numerous works on soil conservation. His 1939 book, Soil Conservation, is regarded as the standard text on the subject. He wrote additional volumes, including The Soils of Cuba, The Soils and Agriculture of the Southern States, and Elements of Soil Conservation.
One of the main accomplishments from Bennett's time in Washington D.C. was the passage of Public Law 46, in 1935. Considered the first soil conservation act in the world, its passage had been promoted persistently by Bennett. He continued to work toward increased public knowledge and legislation regarding conservation of the soil until his death in July 1960.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE :
The Hugh Hammond Bennett collection contains papers from 1921 to 1959. Most of the items in the collection are articles and speeches written by Bennett for his many appearances around the United States. Published articles, publications about soil conservation issues, and radio addresses by Bennett are also included in this collection. One article on Bennett and the Soil Conservation Service, written in 2010, added to collection.
The items that make up this collection provide an insight into the life’s work of Hugh H. Bennett. The focus of his career was to improve recognition of soil conservation issues, and ultimately to improve the farmlands of America. Throughout the collection, Bennett’s papers document his attempts to inform, scare, and energize his audiences about soil conservation issues. The sheer number of papers and presentations illustrates the urgency Bennett felt about the need for soil conservation. The newspaper and magazine articles written by and about Bennett show how significant this issue was to the mainstream media of the time, and that he was well known and respected across the United States.
The collection contains multiple copies of some items, many of which have handwritten notes or editing. The collection is described at the item level, with multiple entries for each file folder.
SERIES 1 PAPERS AND PRESENTATIONS 1921–1952, 2010 BOX 1–5 :
Some of the numerous speeches given by Bennett on soil conservation make up this series. Many speeches are tailored specifically to the groups he addressed, including electricians, businessmen, and beekeepers. World War II, and the ways that soil conservation could contribute to victory, is the focus of several papers. Papers written by other people in the Soil Conservation Service are also included in this series.
SERIES 2 PUBLICATIONS 1928-1959 BOX 6 :
Eventually, many of Bennett’s papers were published by the Soil Conservation Service or in a variety of magazines. Bennett wrote for numerous publications including The Saturday Evening Post, The Progressive Farmer, and Soil Conservation. These papers, along with several articles written about the life of Hugh Bennett, comprise this series.
SERIES 3 RADIO ADDRESSES 1933-1951 BOX 6-7 :
Throughout his tours promoting soil conservation, Bennett often gave radio addresses or interviews. These appearances were often summaries of his longer presentations, but sometimes he gave interviews or other presentations for pre-planned forums. Transcripts of these appearances and scripts from some of the presentations are included in this portion of the collection.
SUBJECT ACCESS :
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