When Isaac Newton, the first commissioner of Agriculture, outlined the program for a new Department in 1862, he placed near the top of his list the establishment of an agricultural library. It was his belief that Athe most valuable work would gradually accumulate by exchange, gift and purchase forming a rich mine of knowledge. Since that time the National Agricultural Library (NAL) has assembled a collection of over 1,500,000 volumes inclusive of historic and/or rare books, manuscripts and oral history transcripts.
In addition to the usual collection activities, the library welcomes the opportunity to receive, preserve, and make available manuscript material of historic value including diaries, account books, letters, notebooks, memoirs and reminiscences pertaining to agriculture and its many related fields. These acquired holdings range from single items such as Vini, an 18th century Florentine wine-merchants's account book, to the personal papers of Charles E. North (1869-1961), physician, public health officer and agricultural scientists, and the papers of Julian N. Friant (1888-1939), a Special Assistant to Secretary Henry Wallace who corresponded with such notables as James Farley, Rex Tugwell and Franklin Roosevelt.
The Library, as part of its efforts to meet its growing responsibilities for providing an accurate and convenient approach to its manuscript holdings, is preparing a variety of registers to enhance custodial control as well as to improve access for both the reference staff and the researcher. Special thanks to Donald Pisani and Teresa Gill, graduate students in the College of Library and Information Services at the University of Maryland who together as a partial requirement for successful completion of a manuscript course assisted in the processing of the Papers of the Prince Family inclusive of accessioning, physical arrangement, description of the documents and the development of the register. Also in appreciation to Dorothy Manks, Librarian Emerita, Massachusetts Horticultural Society and Dr. Frank Burke, National Archives and Records Service for their thoughtful suggestions on this finding aid.
Historical Program Librarian