The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: United States Forest Service, Harrison Experimental Forest Station Collection
Collection Number: M318
Volume: 9 cu. Ft.
Life in the southern region of Mississippi has long been dominated by the sundry species of pine located in the voluminous forests which stretch from the Gulf Coast northward to near Jackson and Meridian, and westward toward Natchez. From 1880 until 1920, lumber and timber interests extracted much of the virgin timber from which the "piney woods" of south Mississippi received her namesake, primarily for sale to the ravenous Midwestern lumber markets. After the virulent "harvest," much of the denuded acreage in the region came to be viewed as worthless, since the poor soil of the region, although ideal for the growth of the pine, could not be easily adapted for agricultural purposes. Since the south as a region placed little emphasis on reforestation, much of the land, including the area which later became the Harrison Experimental Forest, remained devoid of the once plentiful pine.
In the early 1920's the United States government became more active in the regrowth of southern forests. In 1921, the Forest Service established the Southern Forest Experiment Station, located in New Orleans, Louisiana, to research and document forestry problems in the southern states. Since the regeneration of the pine constituted a significant portion of the ongoing research in the region, a suitable "experimental facility" was needed to conduct long term silvicultural studies. In 1933, the United States government purchased large tracts of land, for the purpose of conservation, in southeastern Mississippi, and consolidated the purchases into the DeSoto National Forest. A 3,850 acre portion of the Biloxi Purchase Unit of the DeSoto, located 25 miles north of Gulfport near Saucier, Mississippi, deemed to be representative of over three million acres of clear-cut and second growth forests in Mississippi, was set aside for research in fall 1933 and named the Harrison Experimental Forest .
The Federal Government wasted little time in planning and erecting suitable research facilities at the HEF. By December of 1933, administrative site plans had been designed, and in early 1934 the Civil Works Administration finished work on several buildings, including the office-laboratory, greenhouse, residence, garage, equipment depot, and the light and water depot. The Civilian Conservation Corps also participated in the project by landscaping the grounds of the administrative site, constructing fences and cattle guards, and establishment of over eleven miles of road on the HEF property.
From the establishment of the HEF in 1933 until the present time, the complex has been the site of a multitude of research projects, most of which are centered around the variety of southern pines which inhabit the region. Major projects undertaken by the scientists who worked, and sometimes lived, on the Harrison Station include studies on fusiform rust and brown spot, both diseases which affect the growth and longevity of the pine. Several products pathology experiments have also garnered much time and attention from the HEF staff. Annual Field Days, which took place from 1948 to 1960, helped inform both the public and also private industry of the contributions made to the society and economy through the research initiated at the HEF.
Until 1953, the scientists stationed at the HEF fell under the direction of the Bureau of Plant Industry, but worked in cooperation with the Forest Service. After 1953, the facility and the scientists came under the direction of the Forest Service. In 1960, a new laboratory opened in Gulfport, and although many of the actual experiments continued to be conducted at the HEF, many of the scientists day to day activities now took place in Gulfport. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, consolidation once again changed the use of the HEF. The Southern Institute of Forest Genetics relocated to the Harrison, and in 1992 the Gulfport facility closed, and the scientists, staff, and records migrated once again to the rural forest station. Since 1992, the Harrison has been revitalized as a regional center of activity for the Forest Service, primarily as a component branch of the USDA's Southern Research Station, based in Asheville, North Carolina. Today ten scientists and nearly fifteen support personnel are based at the facility, which much like the surrounding forest, has evolved to meet the needs of a changing environment.
The United States Forest Service, Harrison Experimental Forest Station Collection contains photographs, negatives, maps, slides, and manuscripts produced by the scientists and support staff at the station from 1924-1993. In addition, numerous photographs are also included from the Genetics Lab in Gulfport, which served as the operational center for the Southern Institute of Forest Genetics from 1960 - 1992. Other significant contents include photographs from the aftermath of both Hurricanes Camille and Frederick, as well as numerous scenes from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, mostly from the 1970's and 1980's.
The collection is organized into four series, which generally reflect the organization imposed by the Forest Service. The principal organizational criteria of this collection is the format of the material, as well as the size. The first series contains sixteen boxes of photographs and negatives which document both the day to day and research activities of the Harrison Experimental Forest Station. The series is divided into two subgroups which separate regular and oversize photographs. The first series is composed of all photographs and negatives which are less than letter folder size. All duplicate images, as well as negatives, are filed together. Subgroup one, made up of sixteen boxes, contains both color and black and white photographs, which date from 1924 to 1993. Scientific research, group photos, scenes from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the aftermaths of Hurricanes Camille and Frederick are all documented in the first subgroup. Other notable photographs include photos of the Gulfport Lab, as well as photos of personnel who have worked at the station over the years. Most photographs in this series are dated, and descriptive notes are included wherever possible. The second subseries consists of one box of oversized photographs, or photographs which are larger than a legal size folder. Both color and black and white images are present, and the majority of the photos are aerial snapshots of the Harrison, or research photographs enlarged to be used for display.
Series Two of the collection contains nine boxes of slides which were taken by the scientists at the Harrison Experimental Forest for research purposes. The Series is divided into two subgroups, based on the format of the slides. The first subseries, composed of one box of standard slides, documents various research projects carried on by the Harrison scientists, mainly from 1950 till 1990. The second subseries is composed of eight boxes of three inch by five inch glass lantern slides. This particular group of images was taken in the late 1920's and early 1930's, and shows numerous scenes from lumber mills and yards from Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida. The glass lantern slides document types of lumber piles and methods of treating lumber, as well as blue staining and microscopic views of fungi on lumber.
Series Three is composed of all manuscript materials which relate to the Harrison Forest Experimental Station. The single box includes correspondence, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and typewritten documents which relate to the history and mission of the station. Typewritten manuscripts compose the bulk of this series.
Series Four contains all maps and blueprints associated with the collection. Since all of the material is rather large, two oversized mapcases hold the contents of the series. Blueprints of most of the buildings at the Harrison Experimental Forest, as well as numerous maps of the station and the surrounding area comprise the bulk of the series.
Concurrent with McCain Archives policy, each unique photographic image is assigned a unique number. Regardless of the size or format of the image, all duplicates will bear the same unique number. The first portion of the assigned number is derived from the manuscript number of the collection, M318 in the case of the United States Forest Service, Harrison Experimental Forest Station Collection, and the second portion of the image number is a sequential ascending whole number, beginning with one, assigned to the first photograph in Series One. Therefore the first image in the collection is M318-1, and the collection ends with image M318-2265. The exception is a small group of aerial photographs which bear numbers imposed by the photographer.
The collection would be of interest to researchers in either pine research or reforestation in the South during the twentieth century. In addition, the large numbers of photographs would be helpful to researchers interested in the lumber industry in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, or Arkansas. Researchers studying the Mississippi Gulf Coast or hurricanes in the region from 1960- 1993 could also find pertinent information in the collection.