Charles Edwin Kellogg Papers

Charles Edwin Kellogg portrait Introduction

The Charles Edwin Kellogg Papers span the years 1902-1980 (bulk 1933-1971). The collection is 44 linear feet and occupies 75 boxes. The collection was donated to the National Agricultural Library in October 1980 by Kellogg’s wife, Lucille Kellogg. Materials are in good condition. There are no restrictions on use of the collection. The collection was partially processed by Liz McAllister in spring 2005 and completed by Nichole Rosamilia in 2012.


Special Collections of the National Agricultural Library (NAL) acquires, arranges, describes, preserves and makes available rare materials significant to the history of agriculture. Materials are obtained through donation or active collection in accordance with the established Special Collections collection development policy. Special Collections staff organize and describe materials according to archival principles and create descriptions and indexes to enhance access. Staff do not edit or otherwise modify the original materials. The views expressed in the collections do not necessarily reflect the policies of the National Agricultural Library or the United States Department of Agriculture.

List of Abbreviations

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

  • Agency for International Development (AID)

  • American Society of Agronomy (ASA)

  • Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI)

  • Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economics (CERES)

  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

  • Foreign Agricultural Service, United States Department of Agriculture (FAS)

  • International Society of Soil Science (ISSS)

  • National Agricultural Library (NAL)

  • National Association of Soil Conservation Districts (NASCD)

  • Soil Conservation Service (SCS)

  • Soil Conservation Society of America (SCSA)

  • Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)

  • Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

  • United Nations Scientific Conference on the Conservation and Utilization of Resources (UNSCUR)

  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

  • Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet Union (USSR)

Biographical Sketch

Charles Edwin Kellogg (1902-1980) was head of the Soil Survey in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for 37 years (1934-1971). He emphasized the interpretations, or assessment for particular uses, of soil survey data to assist people. Kellogg wrote and spoke widely on world soil resources, and he advised domestic and international research and agricultural organizations to promote improved farming systems for efficient production, soil conservation, and high standards of rural living.

Kellogg was born on August 2, 1902 in Ionia County, Michigan. In December 1925, he married his wife, Lucille Jeanette Reasoner. They had two children: Robert Leland, born in 1928, and Mary Alice, born in 1930. Kellogg earned his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in soil science from Michigan State College in 1925 and 1929, respectively. From 1923-1926, he worked summers as a junior soil scientist on the Michigan Department of Conservation's land economic survey. While pursuing his doctorate, Kellogg was supported from 1926-1928 by a fellowship from the Michigan State Highway Department; he used soil survey techniques to investigate the relationship between soil characteristics and the problem of buckling on the state's new concrete highways. Kellogg carried out soil surveys at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey from 1928-1929, and in 1930 he took a position as assistant professor of soils at North Dakota Agricultural College. While at North Dakota, Kellogg advised on the soil survey of McKenzie County and developed the first scientific system for rural land classification for equitable tax assessment based upon the potential productivity of the land.

Kellogg moved to Washington, D.C. to accept a position specializing in land classification at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in February 1934. On July 1, 1934 he became acting Chief, Division of Soil Survey of the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils. When Curtis F. Marbut, Kellogg's predecessor, died in Manchuria a year later in 1935, Kellogg was appointed Chief of the division. He held the same position from 1938-1952 in the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI); as Assistant Administrator of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) from 1952-1963; and as Deputy Administrator for Soil Survey from 1963-1971.

Kellogg wrote the first edition of the USDA Soil Survey Manual, published in 1937, and directed the expanded 1951 edition, which was adopted by soil survey organizations worldwide. He oversaw the expansion of soil survey interpretations for farming and non-farming uses, initiated an internationally renowned soil geomorphology research program, and directed the development of a new soil classification system, published in 1975 as Soil Taxonomy: A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys. Kellogg authored 7 books and published over 200 articles, bulletins, and reviews on soil science and geography, soil conservation, agricultural research, land classification, town-and-country planning, and agricultural development.

Kellogg traveled extensively for conferences and as a consultant to foreign governments and international agencies. He was a delegate from the United States to the International Agriculture Institute in Rome in 1938; to the Inter-American Agricultural Institute in Mexico City in 1942; to the Pacific Science Congress in New Zealand in 1949; and to the United Nations Conference on the Application of Science and Technology for the Benefit of the Less Developed Areas in Geneva in 1963. He was a guest of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union for its 220th anniversary Jubilee Session in 1945; of the French Association of Soil Scientists for the Conference on Soils in Southern France and Algeria in 1947; and of the Commonwealth Bureau of Soils for a Conference on Tropical Soils in Harpenden, England in 1948.

In 1958 Kellogg was chairman of the United States Mission on Soil and Water Use to the Soviet Union. He served as the secretary of the Committee on Agriculture at the Organizing Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Quebec in 1945. He also worked with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and attended conferences on arid lands in 1952 and 1955. From 1962-1965 he directed A Study of American Colleges of Agriculture under a grant from the Carnegie Corporation.

As a consultant he assisted soil and other agricultural scientists in the Belgian Congo, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Portugal, Iceland, Canada, Israel, Ghana, India, Vietnam, and the Netherlands.

Kellogg was also active in professional societies throughout his career. He was president of the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) in 1941, and in 1952 he served as vice president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Section on Agriculture. With Cornelis Hendrik Edelman, Kellogg helped to revitalize the International Society of Soil Science (ISSS) after World War II. He was vice president of the ISSS from 1956-1960 and a United States delegate to several of its international congresses from 1935 to 1978. He was also a member of Alpha Zeta, Sigma Xi, and the Cosmos Club.

Kellogg was the recipient of many honors. He received USDA's Distinguished Service Award in 1950 and was a National Sigma Xi Lecturer in 1947. He received honorary doctorates from the University of Gembloux, Belgium in 1960; North Dakota State University in 1962; and the University of Ghent, Belgium in 1963.

In May 1971, Kellogg retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He died in Hyattsville, Maryland on March 9, 1980 at the age of 77.

Scope and Content Note

Charles Edwin Kellogg (1902-1980) served as the head of the Soil Survey in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for 37 years (1934-1971). The collection spans the years 1902-1980 and primarily contains materials relating to his career as a soil scientist and the history of the Soil Survey. There are manuscripts; publications, such as articles and reports; photographic prints and slides; travel journals; field notebooks; Kellogg's curriculum vitae, or autobiography; correspondence; newspaper clippings; and honors and awards. The materials are in good condition and make up 10 series.

Kellogg kept detailed records of his professional and personal activities. His field notebooks (Series VII) span five decades and are full of the handwritten notes and observations he made while traveling and at conferences, meetings, and in the field both in the United States and abroad. The curriculum vitae (Series I), a combination of an autobiography and a journal, is a more polished account of Kellogg's daily life. In it he recounts details ranging from his work at the Soil Survey to the care of his home garden.

Kellogg traveled extensively for conferences and as a researcher and consultant. His travels included visits to various countries in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Filled with research notes, journal entries, photographs, and ephemera, his travel journals (Series VI) are a rich source of information on world soil survey and agricultural efforts as well as a variety of cultures. Kellogg's photograph and slide collection (Series VIII) also provides considerable documentation of his domestic and international travels and depicts soils, agriculture, local people, and Kellogg and colleagues in the field.

One of Kellogg's interests was in compiling a history of the Soil Survey. He kept an extensive research file (Series V) on the organization of the Soil Survey and the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), the people involved in their development, and major events in their history. In addition, Series VIII contains many contemporary and early photographs of USDA soil scientists.

A large part of the collection consists of the literature that Kellogg produced relating to soil science. A prolific writer, Kellogg authored several books and over 200 published articles, bulletins, and reviews. Many of his works were USDA publications and reports for the Soil Survey and the Soil Conservation Service (SCS); however, he also published numerous articles in scientific and popular journals. His most notable books include the first Soil Survey Manual (1937), The Soils That Support Us (1941), Our Garden Soils (1952), and Agricultural Development: Soils, Food, People, Work (1975). Kellogg delivered a significant number of speeches and lectures. He was a guest on radio and television talk shows, and he spoke at universities, colleges, and conferences as well as at local civic and interest groups. In 1947, he was appointed National Sigma Xi Lecturer and spoke on soil science to some 30 chapters throughout the United States. Originals and photocopies of Kellogg's published works can be found in Series II, while many of Kellogg's drafts, unpublished works, and speeches and lectures can be found in Series III.

While working on research, especially his book Agricultural Development: Soils, Food, People, Work (1975), Kellogg amassed many publications and unpublished works which he placed into research files (Series IX). These publications and unpublished works, some of which were annotated by Kellogg, were written by various authors on topics related to agriculture and soil science.

Kellogg was an avid book collector, and his personal library was donated to the National Agricultural Library (NAL) along with his papers. The collection consists of approximately 2,000 books, monographs, and bound serials relating to international soil science and all aspects of agriculture. Publication dates range from 1745 to the 1970s. While the majority of the collection is in English, many languages are represented, including French, Dutch, German, Icelandic, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian. No detailed listing of the book collection currently exists, and the books have not yet been catalogued. However, the collection contains rare imprint editions of the following works: Of Husbandry by Lucius Moderatus Columella (1745); Elements of Husbandry by Sir Humphrey Davy (1813); A Practical Treatise of Husbandry by Henri Louis Duhamel Du Monceau (1759); An Essay on Calcareous Manures by Edmund Ruffin (1832, 1853); Horse-Hoeing Husbandry by Jethro Tull (1829); Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry by Thomas Turner (1812); and The Essence of Agriculture by Charles Varlo (1786).

Series Description

Series I. Curriculum Vitae. 1902-1972. 3 boxes.

The curriculum vitae is an autobiographical account of Kellogg's daily life. It is drawn from personal records, diaries, correspondence files, field notebooks, and the memories of Kellogg and his wife Lucille. It includes relevant memoranda and correspondence. Although the curriculum vitae does describe details of his personal life, it primarily recounts events related to Kellogg's career as a soil scientist, including his observations and assessments of colleagues and office politics.

There are two copies of the curriculum vitae: one consists of four bound volumes, while the other is loose papers in file folders. Both are typed and contain handwritten edits and typed insertions. However, the loose papers cover the years 1902 to 1972, while the bound volumes span 1902 to July 1971. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series II. Publications Authored by Kellogg. 1929-1974, No Date. 12 boxes.

Series II includes originals and photocopies of Kellogg's published works as well as some related correspondence. This series is arranged in original, rough chronological order according to Kellogg's numbering system, which is described in the key to publications at the beginning of the series. Publications not listed in the key were added to the end of the series and are arranged in chronological order.

Series III. Manuscript File. 1929-1974, No Date. 13 boxes.

The manuscript file primarily contains typed and handwritten drafts of Kellogg's articles, book chapters, speeches, and lectures given at conferences, meetings, universities, and on radio and television. Some correspondence related to the publication of his books and articles is also included. This series is arranged according to Kellogg's numbering system in original, rough chronological order. Unnumbered documents were added to the end of the series and are arranged in chronological order.

Series IV. Correspondence. 1930-1976, No Date. 3 boxes.

Series IV primarily relates to Kellogg's publications; it includes his sent and received correspondence with publishers and comments and requests from fellow scientists. Most of the remainder of the correspondence is with other United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Soil Survey, and Extension Service officials and scientists. It concerns work-related subjects such as soil erosion, the development of a new soil classification system, and travel arrangements. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series V. Soil Survey File. 1906-1973, No Date. 11 boxes.

Series V consists of research files Kellogg compiled to document the history of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Soil Survey. Kellogg organized the file into subtopics which cover the Soil Survey's history, organization, staff, and major events. The series is therefore arranged into ten subseries in accordance with Kellogg's key, which is found at the beginning of the series. Materials are arranged in rough chronological order within each of the ten subseries.

Subseries V.A. Miscellaneous History and Charts. 1924-circa 1971, No Date.

This subseries contains a copy of the public law enacting the Soil Survey, staff directories from the 1960s, and soil maps and documents from Kellogg's early work in Michigan, Maryland, and North Dakota.

Subseries V.B. General. 1928-1970, No Date.

This subseries contains organizational charts and articles on organizational history; USDA memoranda; sent and received correspondence related to recommending and hiring personnel; the reports of various departmental committees and working groups, together with related correspondence; and newspaper clippings about Soil Survey programs.

Subseries V.C. Soil Survey Staff. 1934-1970.

This subseries includes memoranda and correspondence related to the hiring of personnel, staff salaries and grades, budget issues, and staff evaluations. Also included are Kellogg's files on current and former Soil Survey personnel as of 1952.

Subseries V.D. Soil Survey Reorganizations. 1938-1966.

This subseries contains correspondence, memoranda, and proposals related to reorganizations of the Soil Survey and the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). Also included are staff directories; correspondence and memoranda concerning the departmental budget and expenses; and copies of the Soil Survey Field Letter, an internal newsletter.

Subseries V.E. Soil Survey History. 1906-1973.

This subseries includes agendas, committee reports, minutes, and proceedings from national and regional Soil Survey staff conferences; copies of USDA correspondence and memoranda from the early 1900s concerning disagreements between the agency and Cyril G. Hopkins; a file on Curtis F. Marbut (Box 38, Folder 719) which contains photographs, newspaper clippings, and memorials; and miscellaneous memoranda, correspondence, reports, newspaper clippings, and notes collected by Kellogg on subjects ranging from a Soil Survey publications lag and the need for additional funds to position security in the federal service.

Subseries V.F. Soil Conservation Service (SCS) History. 1923-1970.

This subseries contains publications and newspaper clippings related to the history and work of the SCS; a staff directory; memoranda and notes about SCS–Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coordination; congressional testimony on SCS reorganization; and correspondence concerning farm planning.

Subseries V.G. Fertilizer Controversy. 1936-1951.

This subseries contains correspondence; memoranda; reports; publications, especially The Fertilizer Review; and copies of proposed legislation related to the establishment of a national policy on fertilizers from the late 1930s to the 1950s. Topics covered include the conservation of fertilizer resources, subsidies, and biodynamic farming and the safety of chemical fertilizers.

Subseries V.H. Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI). 1948-1951.

This subseries includes a timeline of events from a BPI 50th anniversary publication and annual reports from 1948-1951.

Subseries V.I. Miscellaneous Reviews. 1941-1970, No Date.

This subseries contains Kellogg's reviews of articles and books on agriculture and farming, soil science and science in general, management, land grant universities, the economics of land planning, and soil conservation.

Subseries V.J. Soviet Union (USSR). 1944-1962.

This subseries contains correspondence, especially with the American embassy in Moscow, and notes related to Kellogg's visits; a translated article; text of Kellogg's radio talks; correspondence related to the American Soviet Friendship Society; and biographical information and notes on Soviet and other soil scientists.

Series VI. Travel Journals. 1938-1963. 2 boxes.

The travel journals are typed narrative accounts of Kellogg's professional travels for conferences and as an advisor to agricultural development programs in the United States, Europe, the Soviet Union, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, and India. The journals are in two forms: as loose paper drafts in file folders, some of which include photographs; and as bound volumes. In addition to Kellogg's written observations, the bound journals and their appendices contain photographs, maps, conference programs and reports, relevant professional literature, guidebooks, and ephemera. Photographs depict conference attendees and local officials; soil surveys; soil striation, erosion and conservation; machinery; and the living conditions of rural people. In cases where multiple copies of a bound travel journal exist, not all versions contain supplementary materials. Each subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries VI.A. Drafts. 1945-1963.
Subseries VI.B. Bound Volumes. 1938-1963.

Series VII. Field Notebooks. 1924-1964. 6 boxes.

Series VII contains 162 small notebooks that Kellogg used to take handwritten notes while traveling and at conferences, meetings, and in the field both in the United States and abroad. Many of the notebooks have writing on only a few pages, and the handwriting is often difficult to decipher. Kellogg explains his note-taking methods in an inventory he created, which can be found at the beginning of the series. Notebooks 120, 129, 138, 154, 159, 165, and 168-192 are listed in the inventory but not present in the collection. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series VIII. Photographs. 1927-1980, No Date. 15 boxes.

Series VIII consists of color slide transparencies and black-and-white photographic prints and negatives. The bulk of the slides and photographs were taken by Kellogg while traveling and in the field in the United States and abroad. Kellogg produced several inventories of his slides; these can be found at the beginning of the following subseries.

Subseries VIII.A. Slide transparencies, by country. 1942-1968.

This subseries is predominantly composed of Kodachrome and Ektachrome slide transparencies from Kellogg's travels in the United States and abroad. Also included are color prints made from some of the slides. Subjects depicted include: soils; landscape features; agriculture; people and culture, especially rural life; buildings and architecture; and Kellogg and colleagues. There are also slide reproductions of world soil maps and graphs of United States farm output and crop yields. Prints made from slides in this subseries were used to illustrate the travel journals (Series VI). Kellogg's inventory, with descriptive information for each of the slides, can be found at the beginning of the subseries. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by country, with the slides organized chronologically within each country.

Subseries VIII.B. Range survey and soils slide transparencies. 1940-1980, No Date.

This subseries primarily contains slide transparencies relating to range surveys in the western United States and forest range environmental study (FRES) work. Most of the slides are uncaptioned. Subjects depicted include: landscapes; vegetation; grazing stock; sample forms for recording grazing use and range condition; reproductions of text, maps, and charts related to FRES; and aerial photographs of unidentified mountains and a town. Also included are "Soils and Land Use in New Zealand" slides produced by the 1962 International Soil Conference in New Zealand and slide reproductions of maps and graphs related to the soils of the Soviet Union. The subseries is arranged in chronological order.

Subseries VIII.C. Prints and negatives, by country. 1936-1962.

This subseries contains black-and-white photographic prints and negatives taken during Kellogg's travels in the United States and abroad. Subject depicted include: soils; landscape features; agriculture; people and culture, especially rural life; buildings and architecture; and Kellogg and colleagues. Also included are photographs of Kellogg working in his home garden. Some 1946 photographs from Alaska were taken by Kellogg's colleagues, A. D. Edgar, an agricultural engineer; Iver Nygard, a soil scientist; and Dave Savage, an agrostologist. Kellogg used many of these photographs to illustrate his travel journals (Series VI) .

Most of this subseries consists of 4x5-inch prints and their negatives. Kellogg also made many 8x10-inch prints of those photographs that he considered to be of high quality. There are often multiple copies of a print. The photographs are housed in sleeves which Kellogg labeled with the negative number, date and place taken, and a caption. A partial inventory, which includes caption information, can be found at the beginning of the subseries. The photographs in this subseries are arranged in negative number order and are grouped by the country or region in which they were taken. Often the negative number order corresponds to the chronological order. There are gaps in the numbering, and the empty, labeled sleeves of discarded photographs can be found at the end of the series.

Subseries VIII.D. Miscellaneous prints and negatives. 1927-1975, No Date.

This subseries primarily contains black-and-white photographic prints but also includes negatives, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and ephemera. Many of the photographs are staged and casual depictions of Kellogg, colleagues at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), attendees of national and international soil science conferences, and prominent soil scientists such as Curtis F. Marbut and Konstantin Dmitrievich Glinka. Other photographs of Kellogg depict him meeting President John F. Kennedy; speaking at the United Nations; receiving an award at the New Zealand embassy; on a 1966 trip to Europe for a James Joyce-inspired holiday; working in his garden; and at home with his wife Lucille.

The bulk of the remaining photographs relate to Kellogg's work in soil science and include: soil profiles and landscape features; images of historic and contemporary Soil Survey work; photographs given to Kellogg by the Soviets on his 1958 trip to the Soviet Union (USSR); and various illustrations and photographs used in Kellogg's own and USDA publications. Folders are arranged according to Kellogg's key to miscellaneous photographs, which can be found at the beginning of the subseries. Folders not listed in the inventory were added to the end of the subseries.

Series IX. Research File. 1941-1978, No Date. 8 boxes.

The research file includes publications, unpublished works by others, reviews, and index cards with notes and bibliographic and map references that Kellogg used primarily for research on his 1975 book Agricultural Development: Soils, Food, People, Work. This series is arranged alphabetically by title.

Series X. Personal Records. 1950-1980, No Date. 1 box.

Series X contains Kellogg's honorary diplomas and awards; inventories of the books in his personal library; and receipts, correspondence, plans, and blueprints relating to renovations to his house in Hyattsville, Maryland. This series is arranged chronologically.


Sources Used for Finding Aid:

Helms, Douglas. "Early Leaders of the Soil Survey." In Profiles in the History of the U.S. Soil Survey, edited by Douglas Helms, Anne B. W. Effland, and Patricia J. Durana, 19-64. Ames: Iowa State Press, 2002.

Helms, Douglas. "Kellogg, Charles Edwin." In American National Biography: Supplement 2, edited by Mark C. Carnes, 307-308. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Kellogg, Charles Edwin, Papers. Curriculum Vitae. Special Collections, National Agricultural Library.

Kellogg, Charles Edwin, Papers. Publications Authored by Kellogg, Biography of Charles Edwin Kellogg. Special Collections, National Agricultural Library.