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J. B. S. Norton papers

 Collection 0270-UA

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.


  • 1895-1959
  • Majority of material found within 1895-1906

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

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 reading room staff.


0.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of 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.


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.


The collection is organized as 2 series.

  1. Series 1: Subject Files
  2. Series 2: Reprints

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.

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.

Processing Information

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.

The J. B. S. Norton papers
Unknown, April 1973. Addendum incorporated and guide revised: Susan King, May 1989; Jill Reilly, July 2002.
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