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Bertha (Gerneaux) Davis and Albert Fred Woods papers


Bertha (Gerneaux) Davis and Albert Fred Woods papers
Woods, Bertha (Gerneaux) Davis and Albert Fred
Collection number:
3.50 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:

Albert F. Woods (1866-1948), a pioneer in plant virus research, was dean of the University of Minnesota College of Agricuture from 1910 to 1917, and president of the University of Maryland from 1917 to 1926. Later he was an assistant secretary in the United States Department of Agriculture, and president of the Land Grant College Association. Woods' wife, Bertha, wrote poems and children's literature. The Woods collection consists of two distinct groupings of materials. Albert Woods' activities at the University of Minnesota and the University of Maryland are documented in speeches, scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings. Bertha Woods' poems, stories, manuscript notebooks, and scrapbooks make up the remainder of the collection.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Bertha (Gerneaux) Davis and Albert Fred Woods papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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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

Albert Fred Woods (1866-1948) was the first president of the University of Maryland system. Appointed as president of Maryland State College of Agriculture in 1917, he oversaw the 1920 merger between the College Park and Baltimore campuses, reorganized both the curriculum and administration, and set standards that established the University of Maryland as a genuine institution of higher education. His wife, Bertha Gerneaux (Davis) Woods (1873-1952) was a successful author and poet, penning children's stories and religious poems.

Bertha Gerneaux Davis was born in Penn Yan, New York in 1873. She was the younger daughter of Charles W. Davis, a Berwyn, Maryland, lawyer, and Harriet Winton, a descendent of Plymouth Colony's Governor Bradford. Educated in the public schools of Washington, D. C., she began writing at an early age. In high school she wrote and edited the High School Review. Her work drew the attention of writer Frances Hodgson Burnett, whose son also edited the High School Review. Burnett encouraged Bertha and invited her to participate in weekly literary gatherings. About the same time, Bertha's work began to be published. Writing both poetry and prose, she contributed regularly to "Kate Field's Washington" in the Washington Post, to the New York Independent, to the Chicago Advance, and to the Philadelphia Sunday School Times. Her religious poetry, stories, and natural history articles also appeared in several religious and children's publications, including the Christian Register, Christian Endeavor, Independent, Congregationalist, Churchman, and the Youth's Companion. At the time of her marriage, in 1898, her work was beginning to be recognized by the larger journals; pieces were published in Cosmopolitan and would shortly appear in a 1901 edition of Scribner's. In 1903, she published her first collection of poetry entitled Verses.

Albert Fred Woods was born near Belvidere in Boone County, Illinois, on December 25, 1866, the son of Frederick Moffett, a rancher and livestock auctioneer, and Eliza Olivia Eddy. He received a B.Sc. in 1890 and an M.A. in 1892 from the University of Nebraska and worked there as an assistant botanist from 1890 to 1893. He was then appointed assistant chief and first assistant pathologist in the Division of Vegetable Physiology and Pathology of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, moving to assistant chief of the Bureau of Plant Industry in 1895, upon the organization of that department.

Albert Fred Woods and Bertha Gerneaux Davis married in Washington, D. C., on June 1, 1898. Only two months shy of their golden anniversary at Albert's death, the couple had four sons: Albert Frederick, Charles Frederick, Mark Winton, and Winton De Ruyter. Following their 1898 marriage, Albert and Bertha remained in Washington, D. C., until 1910. They then moved to Minnesota where, from 1910 to 1917, Albert served as dean and director of the College of Agriculture, College of Forestry, and experiment station of the University of Minnesota and frequently acted as president. He reorganized the agricultural curriculum, grouping related subjects, and improved departmentaadministration. During this period, Bertha continued her writing career, publishing frequently in religious and children's journals and papers. She also became a leader in university society and a mother.

In 1917, Albert was offered the position of president of what was then known as the Maryland State College of Agriculture. Arriving in the midst of World War I, he became the commander of Camp Radio, located on the College Park campus, and was charged with training the Student Army Training Corps. He was also named general chairman of the committees on food production and conservation for the Maryland Council of Defense. President Woods raised enrollment standards, built new facilities, and increased and reorganized programs. By 1919, the college had seven schools: the graduate schools and the schools of agriculture, engineering, arts and sciences, chemistry, education, home economics. The focus had shifted from the purely agricultural to include liberal arts as a basic part of the curriculum. In 1920, Woods oversaw the merger of the College Park and Baltimore campuses that resulted in the University of Maryland system, becoming the new system president. Under his tenure, the quality of academics continued to improve, and, by 1925, the university was accredited by the Association of American Universities. Woods resigned in 1926 to return to the U. S. Department of Agriculture as director of scientific work (1926-1934), as director of its graduate school (1926-1941), and as an educational advisor (1941-1947). Retiring from government service in 1947, he returned to the University of Maryland in an unofficial capacity to work with his son Dr. Mark Winton Woods on plant disease issues.

Between 1917 and 1947, Bertha continued to publish poetry, stories, and travel articles in a variety of journals. Three more collections were published by the University of Maryland Press: Verses by Three Generations (1921), with son Mark Winton and mother Harriet Winton Davis, The Guest, and Other Verses (1926), and Patient Scientists, and Other Verses (1928). In 1925, she was awarded the Near East Relief prize for a Golden Rule Sunday Poem published in the Youth's Companion. "The Little Gate," [Poems] Opening into Nature, Humanity, Life was published in 1935 and her final collection, World Communion: and Other Verse, a reflection on World War II, appeared in 1943.

Both Albert and Bertha were active in their respective professional, religious, and civic spheres. In 1905, Albert was selected by President Theodore Roosevelt to represent the United States at both the International Conference on Agriculture and the International Botanical Conference. He was president of the American Horticultural Society (1921-1923), the Land Grant Colleges Association (1925), and chaired the first Inter-American Conference on Agriculture, Forestry and Animal Husbandry (1930); was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; an executive board member of the National ResearcCouncil and a member of its Advisory Committee to the General Committee of the Chicago World's Fair Centennial Celebration (1933); Chairman of the Committee of Fifty on Scientific Research; and a founder and first president of Gamma Sigma Delta, an agriculture honorary fraternity. He served as presiding elder in his Berwyn, Maryland, church and belonged to both the University Club and the Cosmos Club of Washington, D. C. Bertha was a member of the League of American Pen Women. She was active in the Presbyterian Club and also belonged to the Audubon Society and the Faculty Women's Club of the University of Minnesota.

Albert F. Woods died following a stroke in the Prince George's General Hospital on April 12, 1948. Bertha Gerneaux Woods died nearly four years later, on February 14, 1952.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers of Bertha Gerneaux (Davis) and Albert Fred Woods span the years 1888 to 1947, although the bulk of the material dates from 1910 to 1944. The collection consists primarily of clippings and scrapbooks pertaining to the literary career of Bertha Gerneaux (Davis) Woods and correspondence and speeches of Albert Fred Woods relating to his activities as plant scientist and university administrator. There are also manuscripts of stories, essays, and poems by Bertha Gerneaux Woods concerning religious subjects, moral issues, children, history, and travel. In addition, the papers contain correspondence, notes, manuscripts, speeches, and awards of Albert Fred Woods related to plant diseases, agriculture, agricultural extension, the role of the university in the community, the University of Minnesota, and Maryland State College, later the University of Maryland.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The papers of Albert Fred and Bertha Gerneaux (Davis) Woods were donated to the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries by Dr. Mark Winton Woods in 1972.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Unknown, June 1975. Reprocessed and Guide updated by Anne L. Foster, August 1996.

Processing note:

As the collection was created by two separate individuals, the materials have been divided into two series. Originally, Series I was arranged chronologically. During reprocessing, the items were grouped first by document type then arranged chronologically. One notebook of clippings relating to Maryland State College of Agriculture English professor Homer C. House was transferred to the materials administered by the curator of Literary Manuscripts. In addition, three published volumes of Bertha Gerneaux (Davis) Woods's poetry were transferred to the Marylandia and Rare Books Department. Materials in Series II were also reorganized by document type and several miscellaneous folders were incorporated into this arrangement. Within the groupings items are arranged chronologically. Finally, alphabetical order and misfilings were corrected.

Loose newsprint was photocopied onto acid-free paper, and plastic clips replaced metal fasteners. Clippings mounted into scrapbooks were left in place for future microfilming. The collection has been placed in acid-free folders and boxes

Encoded by:

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

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is organized as 2 (two) series.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Bertha Gerneaux (Davis) Woods, 1888-1944 and undated (2.5 linear feet)

This series consists of clippings, many compiled into scrapbooks, manuscripts, and drafts relating to Woods's writings. Included are clippings of her published stories, essays, and poems; critiques, advertisements, announcements, and literary society columns in which she is mentioned; and clippings concerning her private life. The clippings are taken from a variety of journals and newspapers including the Washington Post, the New York Observer, the Philadelphia Sunday Schools Times, the Churchman, the Congregationalist, Cosmopolitan, Scribner's, and the Youth's Companion. While most well-known for her published collections of poems, Woods published both poetry and prose. Woods frequently wrote morally instructive stories for children, particularly girls. She also wrote on historical topics and her travels.

The majority of her poetry was religious in nature and theme. The items are arranged first by document type and then chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Clippings, 1911-1944 and undated series 1box 1folder 1
Diary, 1940-1941 series 1box 1folder 2
Manuscripts, 1888-1908 and undated series 1box 1folder 3
Manuscripts, 1888-1908 and undated series 1box 1folder 4
Manuscripts, 1888-1908 and undated series 1box 1folder 5
Scrapbooks, 1888-1898 series 1box 1folder 6
Scrapbooks, 1898-1906 series 1box 2folder 1
Scrapbooks, 1898-1906 series 1box 2folder 2
Scrapbooks, 1898-1906 series 1box 2folder 3
Scrapbooks, 1906-1913 series 1box 3folder 1
Scrapbooks, 1906-1913 series 1box 3folder 2
Scrapbooks, 1913-1920 series 1box 4folder 1
Scrapbooks, 1913-1920 series 1box 4folder 2
Scrapbooks, 1913-1920 series 1box 4folder 3
Scrapbooks, 1922-1944 series 1box 5folder 1
Scrapbooks, 1922-1944 series 1box 5folder 2

Series 2: Albert Fred Woods, c. 1905-1947 (1 linear feet)

The correspondence, speeches, reports, manuscripts, clippings, and awards of Albert Fred Woods comprise this series. Most materials, including the reports, clippings, and awards, concern Woods's roles as university administrator and agricultural scientist. Both the manuscripts and additional clippings relate to personal matters, including Woods's strong religious beliefs.

The bulk of the letters concern Woods's university appointments. Woods corresponded with the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota, President Vincent, and other officials regarding his appointment and duties as Dean of Agriculture at Minnesota. His appointment as President of the Maryland State College of Agriculture is documented by official letters from the Board of Trustees and the State Board of Agriculture. There are also letters from Minnesotans urging him to remain in the state as well as letters of congratulations from both Marylanders and his peers. Several letters from the Assistant Secretary of the U. S. Department of Agriculture discuss an appointment to direct the Bureau of Reclamation, a position Woods ultimately declined to accept. Other significant correspondents include R. A. Pearson, H. J. Patterson, F. M. Woods, and Bertha Gerneaux Woods.

Wood's speeches primarily relate to agriculture: methods of production, agricultural education, the relationship between farmers and the university, and specific plants and plant diseases. Woods also described his plans for the University of Minnesota and the Maryland State College of Agriculture, later the University of Maryland. Finally, Woods occasionally spoke on religious topics.

The material is divided by document type and arranged alphabetically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Awards, 1916-1917 series 2box 1folder 1
Clippings, 1905-1947 series 2box 1folder 2
Clippings -- Family, 1914-1940 series 2box 1folder 3
Correspondence, 1909-1932 series 2box 1folder 4
Correspondence, 1909-1932 series 2box 1folder 5
Correspondence, 1909-1932 series 2box 1folder 6
Manuscripts, 1944 series 2box 1folder 7
Notes, c. 1920-c. 1935 series 2box 1folder 8
Reports and Other Publications, 1910-c. 1940 series 2box 1folder 9
Scrapbooks, 1909-1913 series 2box 1folder 10
Speeches, 1901-1933 and undated series 2box 2folder 1
Speeches, 1901-1933 and undated series 2box 2folder 2
Speeches, 1901-1933 and undated series 2box 2folder 3
Speeches, 1901-1933 and undated series 2box 2folder 4
Speeches, 1901-1933 and undated series 2box 2folder 5
Speeches, 1901-1933 and undated series 2box 2folder 6

Related Material

The Archives and Manuscripts Department maintains the official records of the University of Maryland; materials related to Albert Fred Woods may be found in many departmental record groups, particularly the University of Maryland System's President's Office and the Board of Regents' files. The Fletcher Pearre Veitch papers also contain Woods correspondence.

Woods's papers may also be among the departmental records of the University of Minnesota, including the Division of Agricultural Biochemistry, the Institute of Agriculture, and the departments of Entomology and Economic Zoology. Additional materials are located in the National Archives, Record Group 16: Department of Agriculture, especially the Division of Vegetable Physiology and Pathology, the Bureau Plant Industry, and the Graduate School.

The Marylandia and Rare Books Department collections include Bertha Gerneaux (Davis) Woods's published volumes of poetry:

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.


Names (Added Entries)