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Arthur Thomas Erwin papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 9/16/16

Scope and Content

This collection (1836-1973, undated) contains biographical information, correspondence, and research of Arthur Thomas Erwin. The biographical information includes newspaper clippings and faculty and alumni information. Professor Erwin’s research in horticulture focused primarily on garden vegetables and he authored or contributed to a number articles and Experiment Station bulletins on sweet corn, cucurbits (gourds), potatoes, and other vegetables. He also wrote several articles on landscaping for farmsteads and city streets.

Professor Erwin’s reminiscences of Iowa State are also included in this collection. “The Days of Yore at Iowa State” and “Stories by A. T. Erwin” include humorous anecdotes from his time as a student and professor living and working at Iowa State. Professor Erwin recalls the contributions to Iowa State made by Presidents William Beardshear and Raymond Pearson and makes reference to other places and events at Iowa State such as Kent’s Lake (precursor to Lake LaVerne), Old Main (destroyed by fire in 1902), a small pox epidemic, and campus planning.


  • 1836-1973, undated

Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Arthur Thomas Erwin was born to John L. and Elizabeth (Birney) Erwin on November 8, 1874, in Fulton, Missouri. He received his B.S. (1900) from the University of Arkansas and his M.S. (1902) from Iowa State College (University). He attended the Shaw School of Botany at Washington University from 1904-1906.

During his graduate studies, Erwin was an Instructor (1901-1902) in the Iowa State Department of Horticulture. After receiving his M.S., Professor Erwin was promoted to Assistant Professor (1902-1903), Acting Professor in charge of the department (1904-1905), Associate Professor (1904-1911), Professor of Truck Crops and Landscape Gardening (1912), and Professor of Horticulture (1913-1956). Professor Erwin relinquished his teaching duties in 1915 to focus on vegetable research for the Iowa Agricultural Experiment Station for which he served as Acting Horticulturalist (1903-1904), Assistant Horticulturalist (1905-1914), Chief of the Vegetable Crops Subsection (1915-1940), and Research Professor of the Horticulture Section (1940-1956).

Professor Erwin contributed greatly to early Extension work in vegetable crops. His research led to the systematic classification of the various species of squash, pumpkins, and peppers. Professor Erwin also wrote numerous articles on sweet corn, potatoes, onions, and other garden vegetables.

Numerous professional and community organizations benefited from Professor Erwin’s active involvement. He joined the Iowa State Horticultural Society in 1900 and served as President (1924-1925). He received the Society’s Honor Award in 1949. Professor Erwin was active in the formation of the Iowa Vegetable Growers Association. He also was a charter member of the American Society of Horticultural Science and served as President (1930). Locally, Professor Erwin served on the Ames Board of Education, the Mary Greeley Hospital Board, and was a charter member of the Ames Kiwanis Club.

Arthur Erwin married Mary Turner in Oskaloosa, Iowa, in 1906. Together they had three children: Doris, Howard R., and Evalyn. Professor Erwin died on March 1, 1970.


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

Language of Materials



The collection is organized with biographical information filed first and then Alphabetically thereafter.

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 9/16/16. Arthur Thomas Erwin papers, 1836-1973, 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