Roy Walter Simonson Papers

Wim Verbeek, Roy Simonson, and M.C.F. du Plessis (undated)

Introduction

The Roy Walter Simonson Papers contain notes, correspondence, and memoranda concerning soil surveys in the United States from 1899 through 1953. The collection also contains notes on scientific aspects of soils along with notes, memoranda, and correspondence related to the controversy surrounding the soil survey in the Southern Region of the U.S. in the 1940s. There are also photographs, maps, and autobiographical writings along with 14 foreign travel journals Simonson compiled between 1947 and 1978. The materials are in good condition. Researchers may use the collection without restrictions.

The National Agricultural Library’s Special Collections received the collection from Simonson’s son, Bruce Simonson, in 2012. Emily Somach, Special Collections staff member, completed processing and production of the finding aid in 2018.

Biographical Sketch

Roy Walter Simonson (1908-2008) obtained a bachelor’s degree in soils and chemistry from North Dakota Agricultural College. He completed a Ph.D. in soils at the University of Wisconsin. In 1938, he joined Iowa State College as a faculty member and supervisor of the soil survey program. In 1943, he became soil correlator for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Division of Soil Survey in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was promoted to assistant chief of the Division of Soil Survey and transferred to Beltsville, Maryland in 1949. Upon consolidation of the USDA’s soil survey activities under the Soil Conservation Service in 1952, he supervised the classification, correlation, and nomenclature of soils throughout the United States. He retired from USDA in 1973.

Scope and Content Note

The Roy Walter Simonson Papers contain notes, correspondence, and memoranda from soil surveys in the United States from 1899 through 1953. The collection also contains notes on specific regions’ soils, scientific aspects of soils, and soil classification. Notable records include notes, memoranda, and correspondence related to the controversy surrounding the soil survey in the Southern Region of the U.S. in the 1940s. There are also autobiographical writings by Simonson along with 14 foreign travel journals Simonson compiled between 1947 and 1978 that document his trips to Western and Central Europe, Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka), India, South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Container List

Roy Walter Simonson Papers. 2 boxes.
Box Folder Title/Description Date(s)
001 001 Soil Surveys 1899-1919
001 002 Soil Surveys 1920-1939
001 003 Soil Surveys 1940-1952
001 004 Soil Surveys 1953
001 005 Soil Survey Field Letters 1946-1952
001 006 Soil Survey Field Letters 1953
001 007 Soil Surveys Organization Undated
001 008 Horizon Designators Undated
001 009 Series Concept Undated
001 010 Correlation General Undated
001 011 Nomenclature - Soil Undated
001 012 Soil Classification - Historical Undated
001 013 Soil Science - History Undated
001 014 Soil Conservation Service Miscellaneous Undated
001 015 Training 1971-1973
001 016 Soil Conservation Instructions Undated
001 017 Series Description Content Undated
001 018 Soil Series Undated
001 019 Profile Descriptions Undated
001 020 Origin of Name Andosols Undated
001 021 Loess Study Lower Mississippi Valley - Tennessee Undated
001 022 Loess Study Lower Mississippi Valley - Louisiana and Arkansas Undated
001 023 Loess Study Lower Mississippi Valley - Kentucky Undated
001 024 Loess Study Lower Mississippi Valley - Mississippi Undated
001 025 Controversy - Southern Region - 1940’s 1940s
001 026 Notes and Manuscripts by Simonson Undated
001 027 Iowa Soils Undated
001 028 Soils - Montana and North Dakota Undated
001 029 Soil Areas - USA Atlas Undated
001 030 Soils of the World Undated
002 001 Foreign Travel Journal - Romania 1964
002 002 Foreign Travel Journal - Rome 1967
002 003 Foreign Travel Journal - Netherlands 1967
002 004 Foreign Travel Journal - Australia, New Zealand 1968
002 005 Foreign Travel Journal - West Germany 1971
002 006 Foreign Travel Journal - Honduras, Venezuela 1974
002 007 Foreign Travel Journal - Brazil 1977
002 008 Foreign Travel Journal - South Africa 1978
002 009 Foreign Travel Journal - Pacific Area 1947
002 010 Foreign Travel Journal - Pacific Area 1948
002 011 Foreign Travel Journal - Ceylon, India, UK 1951
002 012 Foreign Travel Journal - Holland, Paris 1956
002 013 Foreign Travel Journal - Brazil 1954
002 014 Autobiographical Writings, Correspondence, Itineraries, and Travel Information Undated
002 015 Miscellaneous Photographs 1960s
002 016 Maps 1911-1977

Selected Bibliography

Sources Used for Finding Aid

Simonson, Bruce. “Roy W. Simonson: A Century as a Soil Scientist.” Soil Survey Horizons, 49 no. 3 (Fall 2008): 63-67.

Related Collections at the National Agricultural Library

Lyle Thomas Alexander Papers, 1932-2004. Manuscript Collection 342.

Glenn Loren Fuller Collection, 1902-1964. Manuscript Collection 420.

Charles Edwin Kellogg Papers, 1929-1975. Manuscript Collection 91.