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4.29 Linear Feet (8 boxes)
Biographical / Historical
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.]
- Guide to the John Pitkin Norton Papers
- compiled by Barbara Mathews
- February 1971
- Language of description
- Finding aid written in English.
- February 2009: Finding aid revision description not supplied.