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Gilmour Byers MacDonald papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 9/14/11

Scope and Content

This collection (1910-2010, undated) includes biographical information, awards and diplomas, personal and professional correspondence, published articles and professional writings, letters of appreciation, and reports. The biographical information includes news clippings, biographical sketches, and certificates. The collection also contains MacDonald's Master's thesis and his school and college diplomas.

Most of the writings by MacDonald discuss forestry and conservation concerns in Iowa, including the acquisition and use of forest land. The articles were published in various journals and magazines. Several reports MacDonald co-authored as a member of the National Forest Advisory Council are included in the collection. These reports investigate the problems associated with mining claims in the national forests and recommendations for access road construction in the national forests of the western United States. These reports supplement written observations with black and white photographs.

Finally, the collection contains three family scrapbooks which house photographs, documents, and newspaper clippings. The scrapbooks chronicle MacDonald's life from his college days through his professional career. Photographs include portraits of MacDonald, members of his family, friends, his college football team, and images from his wedding and from research trips. The documents include programs from his wedding, some of his publications, and articles written about MacDonald.


  • 1910-2010, undated

Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Gilmour Byers MacDonald was born on March 9, 1883, to Rev. J. M. and Janet (Piercy) MacDonald of Hubbel, Nebraska. MacDonald attended the University of Nebraska where he received his B.S. (1907) in forestry. He gained employment with the U.S. Forestry Service directly after school and later returned to the University of Nebraska and earned his M.F. (1914) also in forestry.

After completing several years of work for the U.S. Forestry Service in Montana, MacDonald took a position as Assistant Professor (1910-1912) of forestry at Iowa State College (University) in Ames, Iowa. He was quickly promoted to Associate Professor (1912-1913) and Professor (1913-1960). Up until 1946, the forestry curriculum was taught under the Department of Horticulture. When the Department of Forestry was established in 1946, MacDonald was named the first Head (1946-1948) of the Department. MacDonald retired from administrative duties after two years due to the age limit, but continued to teach forestry courses for over a decade more.

The State of Iowa and other organizations also benefited from MacDonald's expertise and administrative ability. MacDonald served as the Deputy State Forester (1912-1933) and State Forester (1933-1955) for the State of Iowa. He was Director (1934-1938) of the Iowa Emergency Conservation program which was part of the Civilian Conservation Corps. After retiring from administrative duties at Iowa State, MacDonald was appointed Chairman (1948-1954) of the National Forest Advisory Council by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. In this position he advised the U.S. Forest Service on the location of access roads in the national forests of the western United States. MacDonald also served on the Ames City Council for nearly three decades (1922-1950).

MacDonald received a number of honors and awards recognizing his service to the University and in the field of forestry. The University of Nebraska granted MacDonald an honorary Doctor of Agriculture (1947) degree. The American Forestry Association bestowed upon him the Distinguished Service Award (1955) in the field of education for his efforts organizing the Department of Forestry at Iowa State and for supporting forestry progress throughout the state of Iowa. In addition, he received the Silver Beaver award (1930) from the Boy Scouts organization for his extensive involvement in the Boy Scout community. In 1992, MacDonald's former house at 517 Ash Avenue in Ames was named to the National Register of Historic Places in large part because of his involvement in the conservation movement and as a leading spokesperson for forestry and soil conservation during the 1930s.

G. B. MacDonald was married to Edith Lillian Craig of Lincoln, Nebraska, in February 1910. They had four children: Gilmour Craig, Donald Craig, Mary Janet, and Ruth. G. B. MacDonald passed away on October 13, 1960 at the age of 77 and was buried at the Iowa State University Cemetery.


4.83 Linear Feet (1 document box, 1 half-document box, 1 map case folder, and 3 oversized boxes)

Language of Materials



G. B. MacDonald was a professor of forestry at Iowa State College (University) during the first half of the twentieth century. MacDonald taught various courses on forestry including forest industries, forest valuation, and nurseries. During his tenure at Iowa State, MacDonald also served as Deputy State Forester and State Forester for the State of Iowa. For several years during the 1930s he was responsible for the organization and direction of the State Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1948, MacDonald was appointed to the National Forest Advisory Council where he advised the U.S. Forest Service on the location of access roads in the national forests of the western United States. This collection contains biographical materials, correspondence, professional writings, and family scrapbooks of G. B. MacDonald. Throughout his career, MacDonald was interested in general forestry and conservation and most of his writings and research reflect those broad interests.


The collection is organized Chronologically.

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 9/14/11. Gilmour Byers MacDonald papers, 1910-2010, 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