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William Henry Stevenson papers

Identifier: RS 9/9/12

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The collection (1895-1966, undated) contains biographical information, building contracts and specifications, correspondence, photographs, and publications of William Henry Stevenson. Biographical information consists of alumni and faculty information forms, certificates, news clippings, photographs, and press releases. The file also contains a program from the University of Illinois Alethenai and Philomathean Literary Society of which Stevenson’s wife, Rosalthea “Daisy” Scott, was a member.

The files containing building contracts and specifications are for two different properties. The first is for the house Stevenson built for his family at 320 Ash Avenue in Ames. This file contains contracts with the architect, A. H. Kimball, and documentation with other professionals who worked on the house. The second property was one located on Lincoln Way that Stevenson purchased and had renovated for the Latauma Club, which later became the Iowa State chapter of Chi Phi fraternity.

There is a small amount of correspondence in the collection, mostly between the Stevensons and family members. It appears the Stevenson family inherited the estate of Charles H. Rosentiel of Freeport, Illinois. Much of the family correspondence deals with the handling of estate matters. The collection also contains several other documents related to the estate. Other correspondence includes letters between Stevenson and Iowa State President Raymond Hughes discussing Stevenson’s retirement from administrative duties. The collection also contains a bound set of letters given to Stevenson during a dinner held in his honor and celebrating his many years of service to the Department of Agronomy.

Several publications and manuscripts are included in the collection. The publications include several Extension bulletins written or co-written by Stevenson dealing with Iowa soils and fertilizer use. Stevenson also wrote several short manuscripts describing the activities of the International Institute of Agriculture in Rome. Material related to his 1934 trip to the Institute can also be found here.

Finally, the collection contains files related to travels taken by Mrs. Stevenson to Europe. This information includes her travel notes and presentations given by her regarding her travels. Mrs. Stevenson was a member of the Ames Woman’s Club and gave talks to the group on the different countries she visited.


  • 1895-1966, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


William Henry Stevenson was born to Henry Staley and Louisa S. Stevenson of Freeport, Illinois on September 4, 1872. He received his A.B. (1893) from Illinois College, his B.S.A. (1905) from Iowa State College (University), and his D.S. (1923) from Illinois College.

Stevenson was hired by Iowa State and served as Professor (1902-1910) of soils and later as Professor (1910-1938) and Head (1910-1932) of farm crops and soils. Under Stevenson’s direction, the department became one of the top agronomy departments in the country. He also served as Vice-Director (1912-1948) of the Agricultural Experiment Station. He was named Professor Emeritus (1948) following his retirement.

During his time at Iowa State, Stevenson became a very well known agriculturalist. His main areas of expertise were in farm crops, soil fertility, and soil management. He studied field drainage and waterway development. One of his biggest contributions to the state was his work as Director (1910-1932) of the Iowa Soil Survey which prepared comprehensive maps and analyses of soil types, fertilizer needs, crop tests, and drainage patterns for each county of the state.

Stevenson was active in professional organizations outside of his work at Iowa State. In 1921 Stevenson was appointed by U.S. President Warren G. Harding as a permanent delegate (1921-1922) to the International Institute of Agriculture in Rome, Italy. He would later return to the Institute serving as a special representative (1924, 1934) of the United States. In Iowa, Stevenson helped found the Iowa State Drainage Association which successfully created many additional acres of farmland by draining wetlands. Stevenson was a charter member of the American Society of Agronomy and later named Fellow (1931) of the organization. Stevenson also provided funds to the Society to create the Stevenson Awards which for five years honored outstanding researchers in farm crops and soils.

Stevenson married Rosalthea Coffin Scott in 1904. They had no children. Stevenson died on January 7, 1951 and was buried at the Iowa State University cemetery.


0.42 Linear Feet (1 document box and 1 map case folder)


The collection is organized Alphabetically.

Items in related collections

RS 9/9. Iowa State University. Department of Agronomy records, 1903-2013

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 9/9/12. William Henry Stevenson papers, 1895-1966, undated
January 22, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672