Agricultural Technology

In 1959, F. Hal Higgins, news editor for Caterpillar Tractor Company and a free-lance journalist, sold his collection of primary research material on the history of agricultural technology to the University of California at Davis. This collection of company histories, business files, pamphlets, advertising items, and photographs makes up the bulk of materials in the agricultural technology category. Equipment manuals, brochures, and catalogs have been separated to form independent collections, which the Department continues to supplement; these materials can be found in the Agricultural Technology Collection: Brochures, Manuals, and Catalogs.

The archival records of selected agricultural technology manufacturers are also included in this subject category. The Western Machinery Company Archives contains drawings, blueprints, and use records of agricultural machinery parts produced in the first half of the twentieth century, and the Blackwelder Manufacturing Company Archives contains comprehensive documentation of tomato harvesters and other agricultural equipment. A portion of the Agricultural Technology Manuals Collection consists of a complete set of the Caterpillar Company’s manuals, parts catalogs, and serviceman’s reference manuals for all of their manufactured machines.

The Department also collects the personal papers of individuals involved in the research, development, and marketing of agricultural technology. The records of Henn, Steiner, and Keast give a first-hand glimpse of the development of the industry through the eyes of a company archivist, a service maintenance man, and a master mechanic, respectively, while the Bakken papers focus primarily on the role of advertising to market and promote the new machinery of such companies as International Harvester, Best, Oliver, and Minneapolis-Moline. The papers of Bainer, Brooks, Long, Neubauer, and Walker contain materials relating to the significant contributions to the field of agricultural engineering by University of California affiliates; noteworthy among these collections are the Walker papers, which contain extensive materials relating to the development of the sugar beet harvester.

Collections in the field of Agricultural Technology comprise approximately 1100 linear feet and cover a date span from 1795 to the present. Most of the materials focus on research and development in the United States and are in the English language, though a small portion of the materials deal with European machines and concerns. Formats represented include pamphlets, correspondence, drawings, blueprints, photographs, microfiche, ledgers, and audiovisual materials. Related collections can be found under the headings of Agriculture, Plant Science, and California History.

Agricultural Technology Manuscripts