||Agriculture may be distinguished from horticulture in
that agriculture connotes the cultivation of food crops on a large-scale,
commercial basis, often including the raising of livestock. The line
of demarcation between these two allied fields is far from distinct:
the private gardener may market surplus products from the garden commercially,
while the farmer will employ horticultural techniques in propagation
and breeding. In general, however, horticulture relates to gardening,
and agriculture is concerned with farming. They share a common heritage
and objective in the domestication and cultivation of plants.
The development of agriculture is considered one of the foundations of
civilization, since the active encouragement of useful plants and animals
promoted population growth and a transition from mobile to settled life.
Western literary tradition relating to agriculture may be traced back
to the eighth century B.C., in the writings of Hesiod. Agricultural writings
from the Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods are represented in
the works of Xenophon, Cato, Varro, Columella, and Palladius. Treatises
by these authors were preserved through generations of manuscript transmission,
and were published and translated within the first century of printing.
Although there was an agricultural recession due to military, pestilent,
and climatic disasters during the fourteenth century, the manorial system
of agriculture and several agricultural innovations and improvements,
including the open-field system, the use of the wheeled plow, the modification
of hand tools, and the the yoked harness were introduced during the Middle
Ages. Agricultural literature from this period, however, was meager and
failed to attain a lasting influence. There were a few exceptions such
as the writings of Pietro Crescenzi which passed into the printed tradition,
and were reprinted and translated many times into the seventeenth century.
Agriculture in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries set the stage for
the vast changes that were to occur in agricultural methodology and technology.
This period was influenced by Roman agricultural traditions reflected
in the early printed publications of Roman agricultural writers and the
works of contemporary authors such as Conrad Heresbach. The changes that
transformed agricultural practice between 1600 and 1800 were part of industrialization
and the emergence of scientific inquiry. Important innovations include
the elimination of the fallow year in crop rotation, a new emphasis on
fodder crops, the use of the enclosure, the mechanization of farm implements,
and the widespread use of the Dutch plow. Agricultural literature flourished
during this period, and the agricultural works of writers such as Olivier
de Serres, Richard Weston, Jethro Tull, Arthur Young, and John Sinclair
formed the theoretical and scientific basis for practical advances. Humphry
Davy's Elements of Agricultural Chemistry (1813), and Justus von
Liebig's Organic Chemistry in Its Applications to Agriculture and Physiology
(1840) marked high points in the advancement of scientific applications
Many of the improvements in European farming techniques were introduced
into America by colonizing countries, but agricultural procedures in North
America lagged behind European advancements until the late eighteenth
century. The first work on American agriculture was Jared Eliot's Essays
on Field-Husbandry in New-England, published in 1760. Following the
American Revolution, agricultural implements and practices gradually improved,
keeping pace with and in a few areas surpassing European advances, most
notably in the development and production of agricultural machinery. Innovation
in agricultural technology, improvements in transportation, the development
of new varieties of crops and livestock, and the dissemination of agricultural
knowledge all contributed to the rapid advancement of American agriculture.
The early nineteenth century saw an explosion in American agricultural
literature. In addition to agricultural monographs, the published work
of numerous local and state agricultural societies, and the increasing
number of farming periodicals such as The New England Farmer, Yankee
Farmer and New-England Cultivator, The Farmer's Cabinet, and
The American Farmer all contributed to the dissemination of information
that influenced the progress of American agriculture.
Agricultural holdings in Special Collections consists of over 550 titles
published from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. The strength
of the collection is in American works published between 1780 and 1880,
but also includes representative examples of British, French, and German
agricultural publications. Of these holdings over 150 titles comprise
the publications of agricultural and horticultural societies from throughout
the United States, providing a record of organized agricultural cooperation
and the spread of agricultural progress across the country. Among the
earliest societies whose publications are represented in Special Collections
are the Agricultural Society of South Carolina, organized in 1785; the
Society for the Promotion of the Useful Arts, organized in 1804 as successor
to the Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, Arts, and Manufactures,
and predecessor to the New York State Agricultural Society; and the Chester
County Cabinet of Natural History, founded in 1826 by William Darlington.
Libri De Re Rustica. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1514.
An anthology of the agricultural works of Cato, Varro, Columella, and
Pietro Crescenzi (ca. 1230-1320).
Pietro Crescentio Bolognese Tradotto Nvovamente per Francesco Sansovino.
Venice: s.n., 1561.
Olivier de Serres (1529-1619).
Le Theatre d'Agriculture et Mesnage des Champ. Paris: Iamet Métayer,
Conrad Heresbach (1496-1576).
The Whole Art of Husbandry Contained in Foure Bookes. London: Richard
Gervase Markham edited this Barnabe Googe translation of Heresbach's
works on agriculture. Googe's translation originally appeared in 1577,
and Markham's edition first appeared in 1614.
Jethro Tull (1674-1741).
The Horse-Hoeing Husbandry. . . . Dublin: A. Rhames, 1733.
Jared Eliot (1685-1763).
Essays Upon Field-Husbandry in New-England. . . . Boston: Edes
and Gill, 1760
The Modern Improvements in Agriculture. London: J. Wilkie, 1774-1776.
An anonymous work in which the author, "a practiser of both the
old and new husbandry," details his agricultural experiments. The
book is illustrated with plates depicting several new agricultural instruments,
including a horse-hoe of the author's own design.
Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates
Arthur Young (1741-1820).
Annals of Agriculture and Other Useful Arts. London: Arthur Young,
1784-1800. 34 volumes.
Arthur Young was an agricultural experimenter, a staunch advocate of
agricultural reform, and a prolific writer on agricultural subjects. Young
began this monthly journal in 1784. It was published continuously to 1809,
with two later appearances in 1812 and 1815. In addition to Young, contributors
to the Annals included King George III, Joseph Priestley, and Thomas William
John Beale Bordley (1727-1804).
Essays and Notes on Husbandry and Rural Affairs. Philadelphia:
Thomas Dobson, 1799. Author's presentation copy to President John Adams.
Bordley owned a large farm on the Chesapeake where he conducted agricultural
experiments. This record of his experimentation is one of the first books
on scientific agriculture in America.
William Strickland (1753-1834).
Observations on the Agriculture of the United States of America.
London: W. Bulwer and Co., 1801.
George Washington (1732-1799).
Letters from His Excellency George Washington, to Arthur Young. . .
and Sir John Sinclair. . . Containing an Account of His Husbandry, with
His Opinions on Various Questions in Agriculture; and Many Particulars
of the Rural Economy of the United States. Alexandria: Cottom and
Washington's correspondence with the English agriculturalists Arthur
Young and John Sinclair lasted many years and covered all aspects of agriculture.
The letters were first published in London in 1800 and 1801 and also reprinted
in Washington in 1847.
Gift of Joseph Y. Jeanes, Jr.
Transactions of the Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts, in the State
of New-York. Albany: John Barber, 1807.
Humphry Davy (1778-1829).
Elements of Agricultural Chemistry. . . . London: W. Bulwer and
Unidel History of Chemistry Collection
The Yankee Farmer, and New-England Cultivator. Boston: C. P. Bosson,
The Farmers' Cabinet; Devoted to Agriculture, Horticulture, and Rural
Economy. Philadelphia: Moore & Waterhouse, 1836-1840.
Charles van Ravenswaay Collection
Justus von Liebig (1803-1873).
Organic Chemistry in its Applications to Agriculture and Physiology.
London: Taylor and Walton, 1840.
Unidel History of Chemistry Collection
The Ohio Cultivator. Columbus: M. B. Bateham, 1845-1866.
Charles van Ravenswaay Collection
William Darlington (1782-1863).
A Discourse Upon Agriculture. [s.l.: s.n.] 1847. Author's presentation
copy to Miss Batchelder.
Crosman Brothers, Rochester, N. Y.
Crosman Bros' Southern Fodder Corn of Superior Quality. Rochester:
Stecher Lithographing Co. [ca. 1870].
Walton, Whann & Co., Wilmington, Del.
The Great Fertilizer. Whann's Raw Bone Super-Phosphate. Philadelphia:
Lehman & Bolton [ca. 1870].
| Essay | Fruit
| Flowers | Nursery
Trade | Landscape
| Gardening |
assistance email Special
University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Last modified: 12/21/10