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John Pitkin Norton papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS 367

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, diaries, writings and other papers of John Pitkin Norton, professor of agricultural chemistry at Yale from 1846-1852. Norton's diaries contain among other topics Norton's observations on slavery and abolition, the Amistad case, the Liberty Party, religion and temperance. Professor Norton was also closely associated with the early days of the Sheffield Scientific School and was a pioneer in the application of scientific principles and methods to agriculture.

Dates

  • 1837-1852

Creator

Language

English

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Arrangement

Arranged in three series: I. Correspondence. II. Writings. III. Special Files.

Extent

4.29 Linear Feet (8 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.0367

Overview

Correspondence, diaries, writings and other papers of John Pitkin Norton, professor of agricultural chemistry at Yale from 1846-1852. Norton's diaries contain among other topics Norton's observations on slavery and abolition, the Amistad case, the Liberty Party, religion and temperance. Professor Norton was also closely associated with the early days of the Sheffield Scientific School and was a pioneer in the application of scientific principles and methods to agriculture.

Biographical / Historical

John Pitkin Norton was born July 19, 1822, in Albany, New York, the son of John Treadwell Norton, a successful farmer, and Mary Hubbard (Pitkin) Norton. He decided at an early age that he, too, would become a farmer. His father agreed to this idea on condition that he receive a thorough education to prepare him for this pursuit. Norton therefore spent winters studying with some of the best teachers in Albany, New York City, New Haven, and Boston. It was apparently his study of mineralogy which first awakened his interest in natural science. In 1844, he went abroad to study, spending two years at Edinburgh and nine months at Utrecht.

In 1846, Norton was appointed professor of agricultural chemistry at Yale and, together with the younger Benjamin Silliman, founded the department of scientific education which later became the Sheffield Scientific School. When Silliman left Yale for another institution, Norton assumed full responsibility for the new venture.

Despite the strenuous labors involved in directing the new school, Norton's educational influence was not confined to the college classroom. Motivated by a genuine interest in the public welfare and a sympathetic concern for the practical problems of the farmer, he constantly sought to convince the general public of the great practical value of applying scientific methods to agriculture. He contributed numerous articles of a popular nature to the agricultural press, especially to the Albany Cultivator,and he addressed many agricultural societies on various aspects of scientific agriculture.

Norton also wrote a number of scientific papers including: "On the Analysis of the Oat", a prize study made in 1845 while he was still a student and published in 1846; "The Potato Disease" (1846); "Account of Some Researches on the Protein Bodies of Peas and Almonds, and a Body of Somewhat Similar Nature Existing in Oats" (1848); and an essay published in 1850 under the title Elements of Scientific Agriculture, used as a textbook for schools. He also assisted Henry Stephens with additions to The Book of the Farm (published in the U. S. in 1850-1851 as The Farmer's Guide), a detailed description of the labors of the farmer as related to the seasons of the year.

With his promising career scarcely begun, Norton was stricken with illness. The burden of his many activities left him too weak to resist and he died in Farmington, Connecticut, on September 5, 1852, at the age of thirty.

The John Pitkin Norton Papers are divided into three series: CORRESPONDENCE, WRITINGS, and SPECIAL FILES. CORRESPONDENCE contains three subsections. The first, "General Correspondence," contains approximately 85 letters received by John Pitkin Norton from 1848 to 1851. Many of these concern details of the publication of Norton's works, especially his additions to Henry Stephens' Book of the Farm.There are numerous other letters requesting Norton to address various organizations.

The second subsection, "Invoices", consists of one volume containing approximately 135 invoices received by Norton from 1850 to 1852. A list of persons from whom the invoices were received is in the back of the book.

The third subsection, "Letters Written by John Pitkin Norton", consists of one letterbook containing letterpress copies of approximately 75 letters written by Norton in 1851-1852. There are also several letter-essays written for the agricultural press. A list of persons to whom his letters were addressed is in the front of the book.

WRITINGS makes up the bulk of the papers and is divided into: "Addresses," "Articles,'' "Diaries," "Lectures," and "Notes." "Addresses" consists primarily of printed copies of Norton's addresses on scientific agriculture to various agricultural societies. There is also one speech given before the Connecticut Legislature. "Articles" consists of Norton's scientific papers, his additions to Stephens' Book of the Farm ("Winter," "Spring," "Summer," and "Autumn"), and numerous articles contributed to the agricultural press, especially to the Albany Cultivator."Diaries" is composed of ten manuscript volumes covering the years 1838-1847 and 1851-1852, and contain among other topics Norton's observations on slavery and abolition, the Amistad case, the Liberty Party, religion and temperance. "Lectures" consists primarily of a series of 33 lectures used in courses at Yale College from 1847 to 1851. "Notes" contains a catalogue of minerals, a volume containing a subject guide to his readings, and a sheet with notes about various soils.

SPECIAL FILES, contains a daguerreotype, an agricultural and geological map of New York State (1844), a volume containing manuscript copies of poems by various authors, and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings (mostly poems, anecdotes, and short stories.) [For a biographical sketch of John Norton Pitkin see the William Henry Brewer Papers, MS 100.]
Title
Guide to the John Pitkin Norton Papers
Author
compiled by Barbara Mathews
Date
February 1971
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • February 2009: finding aid revisiion description not supplied

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)