Skip to main content
Use the right side menu to identify relevant boxes and place requests.

David Edward Brown papers

 Collection 0249-UA

David Edward Brown (1879-1970) attended the Maryland Agricultural College from 1899 to 1904 and was a United States Department of Agriculture field agent at the experiment farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, for forty-three years, specializing in tobacco improvement, breeding, and culture. The collection contains Brown's correspondence, field staff diaries, experimental crop notebooks, and printed matter, such as publications, programs, certificates, and news clippings, relating to Brown's career as a Special Field Agent.


  • 1903-1972

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.


8.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The David Edward Brown papers include materials dating from 1903 to 1972. The collection contains Brown's correspondence, field staff diaries, experimental crop notebooks, and printed matter, such as publications, programs, certificates, and newsclippings, relating to his career as a Special Field Agent for the USDA at the experiment farm at Upper Marlboro, Maryland.


David Edward (D. E.) Brown was born October 27, 1879, in Prince George's County, Maryland, to Mary and David Brown. According to the 1900 census, David Edward had an older brother, John, and seven younger sisters: Lidie D., Gertrude, Lena, Mary, Maggie, Bertha, and Nellie. In 1890, the census taker listed David Brown, Sr., as a railroad worker and in 1900 as a farmer. At the age of twenty, D. E. Brown matriculated to the Maryland Agricultural College (MAC). He remained a student at the college until 1904, playing both baseball and football, thus becoming a life member of the "M" Club.

Dr. H. J. Webber, head of Plant Breeding in the Bureau of Plant Industry, appointed Brown as a Special Field Agent for the U. S. Department of Agriculture on July 1, 1906. Brown was headquartered at the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station in College Park until 1908, when he transferred to the experiment farm at Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Employed by the USDA for forty-three years, Brown's major research concerns were tobacco improvement, breeding, and culture. In addition to writing articles about tobacco fertilization, cropping systems and types, and varieties of Maryland tobacco, Brown was part of the team, headed by Dr. W. W. Garner, that developed the Maryland Mammoth variety of tobacco, which later became the variety used in extensive research on photoperiodism, the response of plants and animals to the amount of daylight in twenty-four hour periods.

On May 19, 1931, he married Alberta Smith of Easton, Maryland, and the couple had one child, David Edward. Some time in the 1920s, Brown purchased Mount Calvert, an estate reportedly built in the late eighteenth century and the only building remaining of Charles Town, the original county seat of Prince George's County. At his death on March 11, 1970, Brown was survived by his wife, son, one grandson, and four great-grandchildren, including David Edward Brown IV.


The collection has been divided into four series:

Series 1
Research Materials
Series 2
Printed Matter
Series 3
Series 4

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Claude McKee deposited the papers at the University of Maryland Libraries in 1975.

Related Material

J. E. McMurtrey wrote a eulogy about Brown that appeared in the March 26, 1970, Enquirer Gazette (Series II), and Brown's obituary was printed a week earlier in the same paper. Brown's marriage to Alberta Smith is announced in the October 1931 Maryland Alumni News (University Publication A44.002). The Annual Reports of the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station (University Publications UPUB A33.001), particularly 1907 to 1910, discuss the cooperative tobacco experiments with the United States Department of Agriculture that Brown supervised at Upper Marlboro. The "M Club Directory" (1941) has an entry for Brown (University Publication M1.001). Brown is also listed in the Registrar's ledger for the Maryland Agricultural College.

Brown published several experiment station bulletins, including: Fertilizer Experiments with Tobacco (1919) with W. W. Garner (no. 225); Fertilizer Tests with Tobacco, with Special Reference to Effect of Different Rates and Sources of Nitrogen and Potash (1934) with J. E. McMurtrey and W. M. Lunn (no. 358); Cropping Tests with Tobacco (1925) with W. M. Lunn (no. 275); and Value of Natural Weed Fallow in the Cropping System for Tobacco (1934) with J. E. McMurtrey (no. 363). In addition, the USDA published his Role of Potash in Growth and Nutrition of Maryland Tobacco in 1947 (Technical Bulletin no. 933).

Information about Brown's family can be found in the 1880 Census for Maryland, Volume 16, Enumeration District 121, Sheet 18, Line 13 and in the 1900 Census for Maryland Volume 37, Enumeration District 91, Sheet 12, Line 76.

For more information about the Experiment Station, the University of Maryland Libraries hold the Records of the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station, the Papers of H. J. Patterson, and the Richard White Collection. The Libraries also curate the papers of two of Brown's correspondents, W. J. Moyer and P. D. Brown. The Libraries hold additional collections pertaining to tobacco in Maryland: Archives of the Maryland Tobacco Improvement Foundation, Records of the Maryland State Board of Agriculture, and the Archives of the Maryland State Board of Agriculture Reports of Leaf Tobacco Sold.

Processing Information

When the papers were first processed in 1976, three series were created: Field Staff Diaries, Experimental Crop Notebooks, and General File. During reprocessing, the General File series was divided and reorganized. Folders on tests and computations were added to the field staff diaries and to the experimental crop notebooks to form a new series, Research. The "Addenda" folders were renamed "Loose Items" and moved from the end of the series to immediately following each corresponding diary. The correspondence was made into its own series and arranged chronologically. The remaining materials were placed in a third series, Printed Matter.

Metal fasteners were replaced with acid-free clips over acid-free paper, and newsclippings, with the exception of the oversize items, were photocopied onto acid-free paper. Oversize newsclippings were not photocopied and were placed in acid-free folders. Items were unfolded, and very fragile materials were housed in non-reactive polyester sleeves. Loose items within notebooks and field staff diaries were separated and placed in appropriate folders. Bound volumes were placed in folders, spine-down.

Guide to the David Edward Brown papers
Processed by P. A.
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