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Department of Plant Pathology and Physiology records

Identifier: ua-00149

Scope and Content

The collection contains a range of materials, including student papers, annual reports, correspondence, departmental communications, field legers, and miscellaneous papers of several faculty members and department chairs, including C.M. Christensen, Francis Woods and David French. There is a substantial collection of departmental photographs covering the department from its inception to the 1990s, as well as two boxes of biographical information on students, staff and faculty of the department compiled by Carl Eide in the 1970s.

The main component of the collection is student papers and paper abstracts written for the Plant Pathology Seminar, covering a range of years from 1930 though the 1980s. Researchers using the collection will note that different date ranges of student papers are identified with different faculty names, such as E.C. Stakman, Matt Morris and J.J. Christensen. The materials were donated to University Archives in several allotments, and were in no discernable arrangement.


  • Creation: 1918-2007


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note

The Department of Plant Pathology and Physiology was originally established at the University of Minnesota in 1907 as the Division of Vegetable Pathology and Botany, making the program at Minnesota one of the first to study plant diseases in the country. The department has focused on the diseases in trees and plants, rusts of cereal, resistance to diseases in plants and physiology of plant pathogens, with particular emphasis on "variability and adaptability of microorganisms and in the understanding and use of genetic control of plant diseases."

The department has been renamed multiple times: in 1913, the Division became the Division of Plant Pathology and Botany. That same year, the Plant Pathology and Agricultural Botany and Seed Laboratory Sections were created within the Division, with E.C. Stakman and W.L Oswald respectively, as heads. In 1919, a third section, Applied Plant Physiology was added to the Division, with L.I. Light named as head. In 1952, the Division became the Department of Plant Pathology and Botany, and in 1962 it changed again to the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant Physiology. In 1966, Plant Physiology personnel transferred to two other departments within the Institute of Agriculture, resulting in the final renaming of the department to Plant Pathology in 1967.

Leaders of the plant pathology department include:

  1. E.M Freeman, division head 1907-1940
  2. E.C. Stakman, Head of the Section of Plant Pathology, 1913-1940 and Division Head, 1940-1953
  3. J.J. Christensen, Division Head, 1953-1961
  4. M.F. Kernkamp, 1961-1972
  5. Francis A. Wood, 1972-1977
  6. David W. French, 1979
  7. P.O. Larsen, 1984-1993
  8. N.A. Anderson, 1993-1996
  9. F.L. Pflegler, 1996-2004
  10. Carol Ishimaru, 2004-current

The early years of the department were dominated by research and field work that addressed the scourge of plant rusts, particularly wheat rust in North America. Led by E.C. Stakman, the Plant Pathology section made important inroads identifying the variability of rusts and how they interacted with host plants, the department attracted students from around the world interested in working on rust research, and in so doing developed a reputation as the leading plant pathology department in the world. Department graduates became leaders in their own countries, heading efforts to modernize crop production methods and encourage locally-based research. Graduates of the department include E.C. Stakman, Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug and Rockefeller Foundation head J.G. Harrar. Borlaug would come to personify the Department’s international thrust, spending the bulk of his career outside the US, working to increase food production throughout the world.


12 boxes (12 cubic feet)


The collection includes student papers from the 1920s though the 1970s, departmental publications, materials relating to St Paul campus building projects, biographical materials on faculty members, and a significant collection of photographs from the early years of the department through the 1980s.


The collection is arranged in six series:

  1. Departmental Records
  2. Plant Pathology Seminar Papers
  3. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and Crop Research Annual Reports
  4. Borlaug Hall
  5. Departmental Biographical Information
  6. Photographs

Source of acquisition

The collection was deposited in University Archives on May 19, 1991. A later deposit of papers, primarily photographs and biographical information, was made in October, 2008.

Related Materials in University Archives

The Department of Plant Pathology and Physiology records and are one of several collections held by the University of Minnesota that document the development of agricultural practices that were central to the Green Revolution, including

Norman Borlaug papers

E.C. Stakman papers

John S. Niederhauser papers

John Gibler papers

Helen Hart papers

Cereal Rust Laboratory records

Processing Information

Collection processed by Susan Hoffman with funds from the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) and individual donors. Digitization funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

Department of Plant Pathology and Physiology Records, 1918-2007
Susan Hoffman
2002. Updated November 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area