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Ruth Lawless Busbey papers

 Collection 0327-MDHC

This collection documents the career of Ruth Lawless Busbey, who received her B.S. (1930) and M.S. (1931) in chemistry from the University of Maryland and a second M.S. in languages (Russian) from Georgetown University in 1964. Ruth Busbey was a chemist for the United States Department of Agriculture throughout her career. Her papers consist of academic records, personnel files, correspondence, biographical information, and publications. Files documenting Busbey's 1966 information exchange trip to the former Soviet Union and copies of several chemistry articles and one major chemistry text Busbey translated from Russian to English are also part of the collection.


  • 1922-1990
  • Majority of material found within 1934-1971

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research. There are no restricted files.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the special collections reading room staff.


1.50 Linear Feet


Ruth Charlotte Lawless was born on March 7, 1909, in Stanfordville, New York, and grew up in Washington, DC, graduating from Central High School in 1926. She received both her B.S. (1930) and M.S. (1931) degrees in chemistry from the University of Maryland. In 1931, she married Ridgaway J. Busbey (died 1941). Together they had two children, William Robert (1932-1972) and Emma B. Ditman (1933- ).

While completing her degrees, Ruth Busbey began working part time as a chemist with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bureau of Entomology, which, in those years, maintained a laboratory on the University of Maryland's College Park campus. Her entire professional career was subsequently spent with the Bureau and its successor, the Entomology Research Division. In 1938 Ruth Busbey transferred to Whittier, California, where she worked on the application of cyanide to eradicate red scale, an insect that infests citrus trees. In 1943 Busbey returned to Maryland and continued work with the Bureau's Pesticide Chemicals Research Branch, now located at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Throughout the 1940s Ruth Busbey continued to research and publish while assuming increasing administrative responsibilities. She was eventually promoted to Assistant to the Branch Chief, a position she held until her retirement in 1970.

In order to read and translate articles on insecticide research published in Russian journals, Ruth Busbey began studying Russian at the USDA Graduate School during the 1950s. She eventually earned an M.S. in languages from Georgetown University in 1964. In 1966 she represented the Agricultural Research Service during a five-week information exchange tour of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). She visited many institutes engaged in pesticide research and established relationships with several researchers, keeping in contact with them after her return to the United States. In 1969 Ruth Busbey began translation of a major text, N. N. Melnikov's Chemistry of Pesticides; the translation was published in 1971.

After her retirement in 1970, Ruth Busbey volunteered her time to various organizations, including the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, Koininia Agapes, Inc., the Retired Chemists Group of the Chemical Society of Washington, and the Prince George's County Human Relations Committee. Ruth Busbey died March 27, 1990.


This collection is divided into four series.

  1. Series 1: Personal
  2. Series 2: Professional
  3. Series 3: Photographs
  4. Series 4: Memorabilia

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries received the Ruth Lawless Busbey papers from her daughter, Emma Ditman, in December 2007. Additional materials were donated by Emma Ditman in November of 2008.

Related Material

McKeldin Library holds a copy of N. N. Mel'nikov's Chemistry of Pesticides, translated from the Russian by Ruth L. Busbey. The call number is SB951 .M413. Copies of Busbey's master's thesis, "The toxicity of thiocyanates and isothiocyanates toward goldfish," are held in both White Memorial (Chemistry) Library and Hornbake Library. The call number for this text is LD3231 .M70m.

Processing Information

Four series were created from the Ruth Lawless Busbey papers. All paper clips and the majority of staples were removed from the collection and replaced by plastic clips over strips of acid-free paper. Sticky notes, pages with tape, brittle papers, and newsprint were photocopied on acid-free paper; originals were discarded. Obviously misfiled items were re-filed as appropriate, and duplicate copies of documents were discarded. The paper documents were placed in acid-free folders and boxes. Rolled oversized items were flattened and placed in custom-sized acid-free folders for storage in mapcase drawers. The photographs were sleeved and transferred to the photograph collection.

Guide to the Ruth Lawless Busbey papers
Processed by Amy French.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742