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Bennett, Hugh Hammond (15 April 1881–07 July 1960), soil conservationist and soil scientist, was born near Wadesboro in Anson County, North Carolina, the son of William Osborne Bennett and Rosa May Hammond, farmers.

Bennett earned a bachelor of science degree with an emphasis in chemistry and geology from the University of North Carolina in June 1903. At that time, the Bureau of Soils within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had just begun to make county-based soil surveys, which would in time be regarded as important American contributions to soil science. Bennett accepted a job in the bureau headquarters’ laboratory in Washington, D.C., but agreed first to assist on the soil survey of Davidson County, Tennessee, beginning 1 July 1903. The acceptance of that task, in Bennett’s words, “fixed my life’s work in soils.”...

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Hilgard, Eugene Woldemar (05 January 1833–08 January 1916), geologist and pedologist, was born in Zweibrücken in the Rhine-Palatinate (then under Bavarian control), the son of Theodor Erasmus Hilgard, chief justice of the provincial court of appeals, and Margarethe Pauli. His family emigrated in 1836 to a farm near Belleville, Illinois, settling amongst a number of cultured German families. Hilgard and his siblings were educated mostly by their father. At an early age he acquired a strong interest in both the sciences and humanities, including, specifically, soils and their chemistry. At age sixteen he was sent to Washington, D.C., for treatment of failing eyesight and chronic malaria. There his brother Theodore introduced him to the scientific community, including ...

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Kelley, Walter Pearson (19 February 1878–19 May 1965), soil chemist, was born in Franklin, Kentucky, the son of John William Kelley, a tobacco farmer, and Mary Eliza Mayes. Educated in Kentucky public elementary and private high schools, Kelley graduated with a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Kentucky in 1904. In 1907 he received his M.S. from Purdue University, and in 1912 he earned a Ph.D. in soil chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley....

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Kellogg, Charles Edwin (02 August 1902–09 March 1980), soil scientist, was born near Ionia in Ionia County, Michigan, the son of Herbert Francis Kellogg, a farmer, and Eunice Irene Stocken Kellogg. Following graduation from Palo High School, Kellogg enrolled at Michigan State College, where he pursued studies in science and mathematics, and eventually specialized in the new field of soil science. At that time, Americans had begun to view soils as natural bodies, the creations of unique combinations of soil-forming factors....

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Lowdermilk, Walter Clay (01 July 1888–06 May 1974), soil scientist, geologist, soil conservation leader, and author, was born Walter Clay Lowdermilk in Liberty, North Carolina, the son of Henry Clay Lowdermilk, a businessman, lumberman, and rancher, and Helen Vashti Lawrence Lowdermilk. The family moved westward to Missouri, to Oklahoma, and finally to Arizona. Walter Lowdermilk graduated from the Park College Academy in Parkville, Missouri, in 1906 and then attended Park College (1908–1910). In 1910 he enrolled at the University of Arizona; after two years there he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he earned a B.S. degree in forestry (1914); a B.A. degree in geology (1915); and an M.A. degree, granted in abstentia (1922). While at Oxford he had an opportunity to study forestry in Germany. He also served on ...

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Walter Clay Lowdermilk. Courtesy of the National Archives (114G-90723).

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Marbut, Curtis Fletcher (19 July 1863–25 August 1935), pedologist and geologist, was born near Verona, Lawrence County, Missouri, the son of Nathan T. Marbut and Jane Browning, farmers. He was educated in rural schools and the Cassville (Missouri) Academy. After teaching school in McDowell, Missouri, he entered the University of Missouri in 1885, completing his B.S. in 1889. He taught at the high school at Bethany, Missouri, for a year and worked for the Missouri Geological Survey from 1890 to 1893. He then entered Harvard to complete an A.M. in 1894. Continuing for another year, he wrote his doctoral thesis on the physiography of the Ozarks under ...