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Merle T. Jenkins Papers, 1913-1974

By Finding aid prepared by Elizabeth Nielsen.

Collection Overview

Title: Merle T. Jenkins Papers, 1913-1974

Predominant Dates: 1913-1958

ID: MSS Jenkins

Primary Creator: Jenkins, Merle T.

Extent: 1.0 cubic feet. More info below.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Merle T. Jenkins Papers consist of materials created and assembled by Jenkins that document his student years at Oregon Agricultural College and his career as an agronomist and developer of corn hybrids. The Papers include photographs, correspondence, publications, certificates, ephemera and artifacts. Jenkins graduated from Oregon Agricultural College in 1916.

Scope and Content Notes

The Merle T. Jenkins Papers document the student years of Jenkins at Oregon Agricultural College and his career as an agronomist and developer of corn hybrids. The collection includes a photograph album and photographs; correspondence; certificates and diplomas; publications; ephemera; and artifacts.

The photograph album covers the period 1913-1918. It consists predominantly of images taken or assembled by Jenkins of his student years at Oregon Agricultural College; it also includes some images of his high school classmates in Portland, Oregon and his military service. The album includes images of an outing to Willamette Falls in Oregon City; several farms and farming families including the William Vaughn Ranch in Dayton, Harold Davis, and Mr. and Mrs. Sandstrom; and children, families, and dogs. Images of the Oregon Agricultural College campus, including the agricultural fields west of campus; the Willamette River at Corvallis; and the Osolito Club house are included in the album. Various student activities are depicted including an outing to Marys Peak, a baseball game, the women's field hockey team, cadets and military activities, and a May Day pageant. Candid snapshots with the captions "strip poker" and "before the nightshirt parade" are included. The album includes photographs of women students, as well as men, including a woman on hike in the woods. Numerous images of the Oregon coast and several photographs of Multnomah Falls are included. The album also includes a few newspaper clippings, Osolito Club dance cards and ephemeral items, and cadet uniform patches.

Other photographs in the collection include photographic prints of Jenkins at agricultural research conferences and international events, primarily during the 1940s and 1950s. Some of these images include his wife Ruth. The collection includes three panoramic prints; two are of his military unit during World War I. The third is of a 1932 Genetics Congress in Ithaca, New York.

The bulk of the paper records in the collection are two volumes of letters to Jenkins from colleagues in the United States and around the world on the occasions of his retirement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1958 and the Farmers Forage Research Cooperative in 1974. These letters describe his many accomplishments and the international impact of his career.

The collection also includes certificates and diplomas; a list of hybrid corn varieties; the book Corn for the Northwest, by George F. Will (1930); and ephemera and artifacts.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Alumnus Merle T. Jenkins earned a BS in agronomy from Oregon Agricultural College in 1916. During his student years, he was a military cadet and member of the Osolito Club. Jenkins attended for three academic years from the fall of 1913 until June 1916, when he graduated. He served in the military during World War I and completed his MS and Ph.D. degrees at Iowa State University. As an agronomist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) , he was internationally recognized for his development of hybrid corn. He assisted many countries with development of their own hybrid corn programs.

Jenkins retired from the USDA in 1958 as Head of the Corn and Sorghum Section in Beltsville, Maryland; and worked in his retirement for the Farmers Forage Research Cooperative, a seed foundation associated with Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, until 1974.

Merle Truman Jenkins was born in Brookings, South Dakota, in 1895 and graduated from Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon. He died in Medford, Oregon, in 1986.

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 150 photographs; 2 boxes, including 1 oversize box

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: The materials were transferred by the Crop and Soil Science Department in 2008.

Related Materials:

The Special Collections and Archives Research Center holdings include many collections pertaining faculty and alumni agronomists and crop scientists, including the Floyd E. Bolton Papers (MSS Bolton), Gary Jolliff Papers (MSS Jolliff), Warren E. Kronstad Papers (MSS Kronstad), Kenneth A. Rykbost Papers (MSS Rykbost), and the Harry August Schoth Papers (MSS Schoth).

The George L. Crookham Papers (MSS Crookham) include materials pertaining to the Crookham Company, a producer of hybrid sweet corn seed. The Special Collections and Archives Research Center collections also include many photograph albums and scrapbooks assembled in the 1910s, including the Irwin Betzel Papers (MSS Betzel), A. Freeman Mason Scrapbook (MSS Mason), Leslie Miller Scrapbook (MSS Miller), Willetta Moore Photograph Album (P 269), Francis and Lois Wilson Neer Photograph Album (P 206), and Marshall S. Wright Photograph Album (P 276). Extensive documentation of instruction, research, and extension programs in agronomy and crops at Oregon State are available in the Crop Science Department Records (RG 095).

Preferred Citation: Merle T. Jenkins Papers (MSS Jenkins), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.


Jenkins, Merle T.
Will, George F. (George Francis) (1884-1955)

People, Places, and Topics

Agricultural development projects
College students--Oregon--Corvallis.
Corn for the Northwest
Farmers Forage Research Cooperative
Farm life--Oregon.
Hybrid corn.
Jenkins, Merle T.
Marys Peak (Or.)
Military education--Oregon--Corvallis.
Multnomah Falls (Or.)
Natural Resources
Oregon Agricultural College--Students.
Pacific Coast (Or.)
Student activities--Oregon--Corvallis.
United States. Department of Agriculture
University History

Forms of Material

Panoramic photographs.
Photograph albums.
Photographic prints.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.