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J. B. S. Norton papers


J. B. S. Norton papers
Norton, John Bitting Smith
Collection number:
0.50 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
University of Maryland
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

A plant pathologist and teacher for the state of Maryland and the Maryland Agricultural College, Norton (1872-1966) was also a writer for numerous magazines, newspapers, bulletins, and newsletters. His papers include biographical as well as professional materials and focus on the publishing aspects of his career. The collection also includes Norton's reports as State Plant Pathologist.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

J. B. S. Norton papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

John Bitting Smith Norton was born in April 1872 to Samuel J. and Louisa Norton of Cocke County, Tennessee. He went to Kansas in the late 1890s to attend the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan, now Kansas State University. He received both his Bachelor of Science and his Master of Science degrees from the Kansas State Agricultural College (K.S.A.C.) in 1896 and 1901, respectively. While he was in school, he worked as an assistant professor at the Agricultural Experiment Station of the K.S.A.C. from 1894 to 1896 and as a botanical assistant at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1896 to 1901.

J. B. S. Norton then moved to Maryland, where he was appointed State Plant Pathologist as well as professor of botany and plant pathology at the Maryland Agricultural College. As State Plant Pathologist, he was responsible for experimentation, botanical surveying, gathering and disseminating information, and instruction. He also shared responsibility with the State Entomologist for nursery and orchard inspections. In 1914, Norton gave up his position as State Plant Pathologist to devote all of his time to his teaching and other duties at the Experiment Station, a unit of the Maryland Agricultural College.

Norton was also a prolific writer who contributed articles to magazines, bulletins, newsletters, newspapers, and Bailey's Cyclopedia of American Horticulture. During his tenure at the Maryland Agricultural College (1901-1942), he belonged to many horticultural societies and served as secretary-treasurer of the Maryland Horticultural Society.

The University of Maryland granted Norton an honorary Doctor of Science in 1923. He retired from teaching on April 1, 1942, at the age of seventy and held the title of professor emeritus until his death.

After his retirement, Norton grew dahlias for sale and show at his Hyattsville home under the name Norton Gardens. He belonged to the First Baptist Church of Hyattsville and Mount Vernon Lodge No. 179 of the Masons. J. B. S. Norton died on July 10, 1966, in Prince George's County, Maryland, at the age of ninety-four.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The J. B. S. Norton Papers include biographical material, professional correspondence, newspaper clippings, price lists from the Norton Gardens, reprints, and notes taken by Norton about his publications. The collection focuses Norton's publications, what he published, where he published, and when he published. Items of particular interest in the collection are Norton's State Pathologist reports, the extensive plates included in his reprints, and announcements from the Maryland Agricultural College catalogs.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries accessioned the papers of J. B. S. Norton in 1972. In 1989, two volumes of collected papers of J. B. S. Norton, transferred from the Marylandia Department, were added to the collection. One letter was transferred from the Department of Botany records in 2002.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Unknown, April 1973. Addendum incorporated and guide revised: Susan King, May 1989; Jill Reilly, July 2002.

Processing note:

When the Papers of J. B. S. Norton were processed in 1973, they were placed in acid-free folders and boxes. In 1989, two bound volumes of Norton materials were transferred from the Marylandia Department to the Archives and Manuscripts Department. As the bindings were deteriorating and the contents were heterogeneous, the volumes were disbound. Individual items were sorted and placed with similar items in the processed portion of the collection. Once all the materials were sorted, the collection was divided into two series: subject files and reprints. The subject files were arranged alphabetically by document type and subject and then chronologically. The reprints, Series II, were sorted by publisher or title and then arranged alphabetically.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Henry Allen, July 2004.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is organized as 2 (two) series.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Subject Files, 1895-1959 (0.25 linear feet)

This series contains biographical material, professional correspondence from other horticulturalists asking for reprints of articles, clippings of articles written by J. B. S. Norton in various newspapers, programs from conferences and meetings attended by Norton, price lists from the Norton Gardens, and notes taken by Norton relating to his publications. Arrangement is alphabetical by document type and/or subject.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Biography, 1933-1980 series 1box 1folder 1
Clippings, 1898-1935 series 1box 1folder 2
Clippings, 1898-1935 series 1box 1folder 3
Correspondence, 1896-1941, 1959 series 1box 1folder 4
Correspondence, 1896-1941, 1959 series 1box 1folder 5
Horticultural Conferences and Meetings, 1902-1905 series 1box 1folder 6
Maryland Agricultural College -- Botany Department, Announcements from Catalogs, 1901-1906 series 1box 1folder 7
Maryland State Horticultural Society, 1902-1904 series 1box 1folder 8
Norton Gardens Price Lists, 1924-1950 series 1box 1folder 9
Notes relating to publications of J. B. S. Norton, [undated] series 1box 1folder 10

Series 2: Reprints, 1895-1906 (0.25 linear feet)

This series consists of reprints of articles written by or with the help of J. B. S. Norton. The reprints were sorted by publisher or title and arranged in alphabetical order.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
The Academy of Science, St. Louis, 1896-1902 series 2box 2folder 1
Botanical Gazette, 1898 series 2box 2folder 2
Kansas State Agricultural College - Botany Department, 1895-1898 series 2box 2folder 3
Maryland Agricultural College, 1903-1905 series 2box 2folder 4
Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station, 1905-1906 series 2box 2folder 5
Maryland State Horticultural Department, 1901-1904 series 2box 2folder 6
Maryland State Horticultural Society, 1903-1906 series 2box 2folder 7
Missouri Botanical Garden, 1898-1899 series 2box 2folder 8
Missouri Botanical Garden, 1898-1899 series 2box 2folder 9
Missouri State Horticultural Society, 1898 series 2box 2folder 10
Report of the State Pathologist, 1901-1904 series 2box 2folder 11
Transactions of the Peninsula Horticultural Society, 1902-1905 series 2box 2folder 12

Related Material

Materials related to Norton's career at the University of Maryland, including a number of research notebooks and photographs, are in the Records of the Department of Botany. The Archives of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society contain materials related to Norton's association with the society as founder and member.

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.