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E.S. (Edgar Sharp) McFadden Papers

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Collection Summary


MA 53


E.S. (Edgar Sharp) McFadden Papers



Physical Description

3.78 linear feet (9 document cases)

Name of Creator(s)

McFadden, E. S. (Edgar Sharp), 1891-1956




South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections
Hilton M. Briggs Library (SBL) Room 241, Box 2115
1300 North Campus Drive, Brookings, SD 57007
Phone: 605-688-5094

Access Note

Open. This material does not circulate and may be used in-house only.

Preferred Citation

Name of item, MA 53, box #, folder #, E.S. (Edgar Sharp) McFadden Papers, South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, Brookings, South Dakota.


Edgar Sharp McFadden (1891-1956) South Dakotan and graduate of South Dakota State University who developed rust resistant varieties of wheat that lead to saving the lives of millions of people from starvation. He was in the United States Army during World War I and spent most of his career working for the United States Department of Agriculture and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. The collection consists of materials relating to his work with research and production of small grains such as wheat, oats, and flax, and in particular the development of Hope Wheat. In addition, the collection contains biographical information about McFadden and his writings and speeches.

Biographical Note

Edgar Sharp McFadden was born to James Edgar and Beatrice (Stocking) McFadden on February 3, 1891 in Day County, South Dakota. James E. McFadden came to South Dakota in 1882 to homestead and built a granary-dwelling house combination on his land.

In 1903, James E. McFadden was severely injured when he was gored by a bull. This put the burden of the 1904 spring planting onto Edgar McFadden when he was only thirteen years old. In addition to the regular planting of wheat that year, Edgar S. McFadden planted a small plot with seeds he had selected in 1903 from a few completely beardless wheat plants. He wanted to see if he could develop better grain. McFadden’s first crop, including the small plot, was ruined by black stem rust.

In the winter of 1908-1909, the McFadden’s left South Dakota and moved to the West Pecos area in Texas where Edgar went into the cattle ranching business in partnership with his father. Over the next three summers, Edgar S. McFadden followed the wheat harvest from Texas to their homestead in South Dakota, and then north and east into the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Minnesota. At this time, he observed that wheat rust started in the south and moved north.

In 1911, Edgar S. McFadden began taking courses in the School of Agriculture at South Dakota State College (SDSC), completing the program in 1914. He began as a freshman at SDSC in the fall of the same year. In 1916, agronomy professor Manley Champlin encouraged McFadden to plant wheat in a small plot of land behind the boarding house where he lived as a student in Brookings. He hoped to transfer the disease resistance of Yaroslav emmer to Marquis, a common bread wheat. While a student at SDSC, McFadden also worked as an assistant in the SDSC agronomy laboratory and in the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station test plots (1913-1917). He received his Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from SDSC on March 1, 1918.

Following his graduation, McFadden went to work for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a field assistant at the Agricultural Experiment Station in Highmore, South Dakota where he continued his research to develop rust-resistant wheat. During World War I, McFadden joined the United States Army and served from May 25, 1918 to February 25, 1919. Following his military service, he returned to work for the USDA at the Highmore Experiment Station. After completing cereal experiments for the SDSC agronomy department in June 1920, he returned to his farm near Webster in Day County, South Dakota.

He continued his wheat breeding experiments on the land that his parents had homesteaded, and he farmed for a living from September 1, 1920 to February 28, 1929. After his crops were destroyed by drought in 1921, hailed out in 1922, and rusted out in 1923, he mortgaged the farm in order to continue working on his wheat breeding research. During this time McFadden developed the Hope and H44 varieties of rust-resistant wheat.

McFadden returned to work for the USDA on March 1, 1929 as an Associate Agronomist stationed in Redfield, South Dakota and also worked for the USDA at University Farm in St. Paul, Minnesota. He held that position until 1935, when he accepted a position with the USDA and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. In Texas, McFadden continued his research with wheat and other small grains, including oats, barely, and flax.

Edgar S. McFadden is best known for his work developing Hope wheat which is the parent of numerous disease-resistant varieties. He is credited with saving at least 25 million people from starvation, and an estimated $400 million during World War II.

During his career, McFadden was awarded numerous honors and accolades including an honorary doctor of science degree from South Dakota State College (1950), the Reader’s Digest award for meritorious contributions to public welfare (1946), the American Agricultural Editors’ Award for outstanding service to American agriculture and country life (1947), and the Progressive Farmer man-of-the-year award (1950). He also received the USDA distinguished service award (1949), a citation of merit from the Texas Chemurgic Council (1947), and honored by the American Agricultural Education Association (1945) for outstanding service. Prior to his death, McFadden received the prestigious John Scott Legacy Medal and Premium (1955). In 1966, a granite memorial to McFadden was erected in Webster, South Dakota.

In 1918, McFadden married Mabel Blakeslee. They had two daughters, Carol and Phyllis, and a son, James.

Edgar S. McFadden passed away at his home in College Station, Texas on January 5, 1956.



The collection is organized into series.

  • Awards, Honors, and Memberships
  • Biographical Materials
  • Collected Material Relating to McFadden's Work
  • Correspondence
  • Hope Wheat and Other Varieties
  • Research
  • McFadden's Writings and Speeches

Contents Note

Awards, Honors, and Memberships

This series contains information on E.S. McFadden’s memberships to various professional and honorary societies including the American Genetic Association and Sigma Xi. Materials regarding the numerous awards and honors presented to McFadden are also part of this series.

Biographical Materials

This series consist of biographies, newspaper clippings, family information, photographs, and obituaries and memorials. There is also an interview with McFadden during the Texas State Fair and material regarding the movie Waves of Green about McFadden and his work. In addition, documents relating to McFadden’s service in the United States Army during World War I can be found in this series.

Collected Material Relating to McFadden's Work

This series includes articles and other documents written about McFadden’s research regarding plant pathology of small grain crops in particular his work with wheat.


The correspondence series contains letters with colleagues and on various topics including polio and his objection to the United States becoming involved in World War II.

Hope Wheat and Other Varieties

This series consists of documents relating to McFadden’s development and sale of wheat varieties between 1925 and 1933. Testimonials are included in the series are regarding the wheat and registration certificates for Hope Wheat and Webster Wheat.

McFadden's Writings and Speeches

This series includes various articles and speeches McFadden had done during his career. Of interest is his essay entitled My Aim in Coming to College written in 1914, his article regarding Wheat-Rye Hybrids in the Journal of Heredity (1917), the Genome Approach in Radical Wheat Breeding published in the Journal of the American Society of Agronomy (1947), and an undated essay labeled Hope Wheat: the Boyhood Dream of Disease Resistant Wheat. Other items in this series include speeches and articles regarding wheat and wheat breeding, development and production of small grains such as flax and oats, and heredity.


The research series consists of McFadden’s field notebooks from 1916 through 1951, spanning his career in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Texas. The notebooks detail his work not only with varieties of wheat, but also oats, barley, and flax.


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers without restrictions. The materials in the Archives do not circulate and may be used in-house only.

Researchers conducting extensive research are asked to make an advance appointment to access archival material. Please call or e-mail prior to visiting the collection and indicate as much detail as possible about a particular topic and intended use.

Physical Access

South Dakota State University supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted as a result of their fragile condition or by contractual agreements with donors.


Related Archival Materials

Edgar S. McFadden Collection, South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum, Brookings, South Dakota.

Norman E. Borlaug papers. UA-01014. Archives and Special Collections, Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Rockefeller Foundation records

Online Content

Edgar S. McFadden collection on the Digital Library of South Dakota.


McFadden, Edgar A. Wheat-Rye Hybrids. Journal of Heredity 8, no. 7, (July 1917): 335

Champlin, Manley, and E. S. McFadden. Acme Wheat / [Manley Champlin and Edgar McFadden]. In Bulletin / South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station ; No. 194, [325]-356. Brookings, S.D. : Agricultural Experiment Station, South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, 1921.

McFadden, E.S. A Successful Transfer of Emmer Characters to Vulgare Wheat. Journal of the American Society of Agronomy 22, no. 12 (December 1930): 1020–34.

McFadden, E.S. Brown Necrosis, a Discoloration Associated With Rust Infection in Certain Rust-Resistant Wheats. Journal of Agricultural Research 58, no. 11 (June 1, 1939)

McFadden, E. S., and E. R. Sears. The Origin of Triticum Spelta and Its Free-Threshing Hexaploid Relatives. Journal of Heredity 37, no. 4, (April 1946): 107–116

Erickson, A. W., and Edgar Sharp McFadden. McFadden’s Hope : Fighting Plant Breeders Win Battle for Bread. [Minneapolis, MN : Field Notes Crop Reporting Service], 1945.

Atkins, Irvin Milburn, and E. S. McFadden. Oat Production in Texas / I.M. Atkins and E.S. McFadden. In Bulletin / Texas Agricultural Experiment Station ; No. 691. College Station, Tex. : Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, 1947.

McFadden, E.S., and E.R. Sears. The Genome Approach in Radical Wheat Breeding. Journal of the American Society of Agronomy 39, no. 11 (November 1947): 1011–26.

Subject Headings

  • McFadden, E. S. (Edgar Sharp), 1891-1956– Archives
  • Agricultural innovations
  • Agriculturists – United States – History
  • Agronomists – South Dakota
  • Agronomists – Texas
  • Barley – Research
  • Flax – Research
  • Oats – Research
  • Research notes
  • South Dakota – Day County
  • South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts
  • South Dakota State University – Alumni and alumnae
  • Texas Agricultural Experiment Station
  •  United States. Department of Agriculture
  • Wheat – Breeding
  • Wheat Disease and pest resistance
  • Wheat – Field Experiments
  • Wheat – Research
  • Wheat – Research – South Dakota
  • Wheat – Research – Texas
  • Wheat rusts
  • Wheat – Seeds
  • Wheat – South Dakota.
  • World War 1, 1914-1918


Copyright Notice

Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the SDSU Archives and Special Collections.


Container List: McFadden Papers, MA 53

Awards, Honors, Memberships11Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas Students' Certificate of Appreciation1947
Awards, Honors, Memberships12American Agricultural Editors' Association National Award Certificate1948
Awards, Honors, Memberships13American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow Certificate1951
Awards, Honors, Memberships14American Genetic Association Membership Certificate1917
Awards, Honors, Memberships15American Legion Membership Card1928
Awards, Honors, Memberships16American Society of Agronomy Fellow Certificate1948
Awards, Honors, Memberships17Boy Scouts of America Membership Cards1931-1938
Awards, Honors, Memberships18Distinguished Service Award from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)1949
Awards, Honors, Memberships19John Scott Medal - Nomination Materials1947-1956
Awards, Honors, Memberships110Kiwanis Club Membership1952
Awards, Honors, Memberships111McFadden Appreciation Day in Webster, South Dakota, October 17, 19471947
Awards, Honors, Memberships112Sigma Xi Membership Certificate1952
Awards, Honors, Memberships113South Dakota State College, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science - Correspondence1950
Awards, Honors, Memberships114Texas Chemurgic Council Certificate of Recognition1947
Awards, Honors, Memberships115Twenty Years of Service in the USDA Certificate1948
Biographical Materials116Accomplishmentsundated
Biographical Materials117Biography Written by Caroline Blakeslee (McFadden's Mother-in-Law)undated
Biographical Materials118Civil Service Scientific Assistant Examination Report1918
Biographical Materials119County Agent Handbook1919
Biographical Materials120Dates and Events in the Life of Edgar McFaddenundated
Biographical Materials121Edgar S. McFadden Symposium2014
Biographical Materials122Exhibit about McFadden at the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum1971
Biographical Materials123Film about McFadden, Waves of Green, publicity1949
Biographical Materials124Interview with McFadden at Texas A&M College System Day at the Texas State Fair, October 17, 19481948
Biographical Materials125Journal1937
Biographical Materials127McFadden Chronology and Family Information2013
Biographical Materials129McFadden Seed Farm1926-1927, undated
Biographical Materials126McFadden, Beatrice (McFadden's Mother)1934
Biographical Materials128McFadden, Mabel (McFadden's Wife)1974-1976
Biographical Materials21Military Service Booklets and Newspaper Clippings1917, 1919
Biographical Materials22Military Service Order of Induction, Furlough Telegram, and Honorable Discharge Papers1918-1919
Biographical Materials23Newspaper Clippings1918-1976, undated
Biographical Materials24Newspaper Clippings of McFadden and Norman Borlaug1951
Biographical Materials25Newspaper Clippings of McFadden's Trip to Mexico1948
Biographical Materials26Obituaries and Memorials1956
Biographical Materials28Photographs of Family, Work, Hobo Day (25 Black & White Photographs)1917-1951, undated
Biographical Materials27Professional and Military Service of E.S. McFaddenundated
Biographical Materials29Publications about McFadden, Burbank of the Wheat Fields, Reader's Digest, Volume 49, Number 293, September 19461946
Biographical Materials210Publications about McFadden, Edgar McFadden: Hope Inspired, by Kevin Kephart2013
Biographical Materials211Publications about McFadden, Half a Century of Progress of the South Dakota Crop Improvement Association, (page 36)1954
Biographical Materials213Publications about McFadden, McFadden's Hope, by A.W. Erickson1945
Biographical Materials214Publications about McFadden, Men and Women of Distinction at South Dakota State Collegeundated
Biographical Materials215Publications about McFadden, South Dakota State College Alumnus, Volume 46, Number 5, January 19561956
Biographical Materials216Publications about McFadden, Texas A and M 75th Anniversary Booklet1951
Biographical Materials212Publications about McFadden, The Man Who Gave Us Bread, Farm Journal, Volume 70, Number 9, Page 281946
Biographical Materials2South Dakota State College Course Schedule1917
Biographical Materials218Texas A and M College Graduate Work1936-1937
Biographical Materials219Writings about McFaddenundated
Biographical Materials220Writings about McFadden, Poem to Edgar McFaddenundated
Collected Material Relating to Work31Donahue, Roy L., Story of My Life by A. Soil, Texas A and Cooperative Extension, Soil Building and Conservation Series, Number 111949
Collected Material Relating to Work32Handwritten Notes Regarding Hope Derivatives, Possibly by Darrell Wells or V.A. Dirksundated
Collected Material Relating to Work33History of Small Grain Crops in Texas1976
Collected Material Relating to Work34Important 1929 Crop Percentages in Eight South Dakota Counties1929
Collected Material Relating to Work36Letter to K.S. Quisenberry from H. Macy1950
Collected Material Relating to Work35Letter to V.A. Dirks from S.C. Salmon Regarding First Observance of Wheat Resistance to Stem Rust1953
Collected Material Relating to Work38Materials from the Rockefeller Archive Center Regarding McFadden's Hope Wheat1943-1951
Collected Material Relating to Work37McFadden and Small Grains Pathology1945-2001
Collected Material Relating to Work39Petersen, R.F., Twenty-five Years' Progress in Breeding New Varieties of Wheat for Canada, The Empire Journal of Experimental Agriculture, Volume 26, Number 102, April 19581958
Collected Material Relating to Work310Rust Resistance in Mexican Wheat1951
Collected Material Relating to Work311Small Grain Breedingundated
Collected Material Relating to Work312Waldron, L.R., Breeding Common Wheat Since 1916 at the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station1950 circa
Collected Material Relating to Work313Wheat and Small Grains1914-1982
Collected Material Relating to Work314Wheat Breeding1940-2013
Collected Material Relating to Work315Yields of Wheat Varieties in South Dakotaundated
Correspondence317Erickson, A.W.1945
Correspondence318Objections to Joining the War in Europe1941
Hope Wheat and Other Varieties320Evaluations of Hope Wheat1925-1933
Hope Wheat and Other Varieties321Hope Wheat Testimonials and Correspondence with Farmers1927
Hope Wheat and Other Varieties322Newspaper Clipping on Webster CI37801925
Hope Wheat and Other Varieties323Project Report, Western Wheat Investigations, Comparative Value of Hope Wheat and H-44 Wheats by J. Allen Clark1929
Hope Wheat and Other Varieties325Registration of Hope Wheat and Webster Wheat by the USDA1929
Hope Wheat and Other Varieties324Seed Sales through the Farmer Seed and Nursery Company, Faribault, Minnesota1929
Research41Flax: Note and photograph1948
Research42News Release: Combat Race 15 B of Wheat Stem Rust1950
Research43News Release: Seabreezeundated
Research44Research Notebooks: 19161916
Research45Research Notebooks: 19171917
Research46Research Notebooks: 1925-1926 book 1; 1925-1926 book 21925-1926
Research47Research Notebooks: 1927; 19281927, 1928
Research83Research Notebooks1945, 1946
Research84Research Notebooks1947, 1948
Research64Research Notebooks Head Rows: Oats, Barley and Wheat1934
Research49Research Notebooks Nurser: 1930 book 1; 1930 book 21930
Research51Research Notebooks Nursery: 1930 book 3; 1930 book 41930
Research86Research Notebooks Prairie View1951, undated
Research53Research Notebooks Single Row Nursery and Field Plots: 1931 book 3; 1931 book 41931
Research52Research Notebooks Winter Wheat and Webster Nurseries: 1931 book 1; 1931 book 21931
Research73Research Notebooks: 8 ft. Rows1937
Research72Research Notebooks: 8 ft. Rows1936, 1937
Research54Research Notebooks: 9-Row Nursery and Field Plots: 1931 book 5; 1932 book 11931, 1932
Research56Research Notebooks: CO-OP and Rust Nurseries, Various Nurseries: 1932 book 4; 19331932, 1933
Research61Research Notebooks: CO-OP Nurseries and Field Plots1933
Research63Research Notebooks: CO-OP Nurseries and Field Plots1934
Research48Research Notebooks: Field Plots: 1929; 19301929, 1930
Research81Research Notebooks: Flax and Oats1939
Research55Research Notebooks: Head Row Wheats and Various Nursery: 1932 book 2; 1932 book 31932
Research82Research Notebooks: Head Rows and Various1939, 1942
Research62Research Notebooks: Head Rows Oats, Barley and Wheat1933
Research65Research Notebooks: Lake City Nurseries and Small Grains, Texas1934
Research71Research Notebooks: Nurseries and Yield Data1935, 1936
Research75Research Notebooks: Rod Rows and Field Plots1938
Research74Research Notebooks: Victoria and Head Rows1937, 1938
Research76Research Notebooks: Wheat Rod Rows, Head Rows, and Rust Nurseries1939
Research85Research Notebooks: Winter Wheat1949
Writings and Speeches92Artificial Synthesis of Tricticum Spelts1944
Writings and Speeches93Autobiography for a Farmundated
Writings and Speeches94Bananas: a Possible Source of Polio Virus (Preliminary Report)1953
Writings and Speeches95Bearing Mendel's Law of Heredity and Malthusian Doctrine of Populationundated
Writings and Speeches96Breeding Disease Resistant Cereals1938
Writings and Speeches97Breeding Rust Resistant Small Grains for South Texas1939
Writings and Speeches98Confessions of a Plant Breeder1925-1926
Writings and Speeches99Crosses of Wheat with Closely Related Generaundated
Writings and Speeches910Emergency Oil Crops Flaxseed1943
Writings and Speeches912Flax Production in South Texas1939
Writings and Speeches911Flaxseed Production in the Texas Blacklands1939
Writings and Speeches913Forewordundated
Writings and Speeches914Genome Approach in Radical Wheat Breeding, Journal of the American Society of Agronomy, Volume 391947
Writings and Speeches915Hope Wheat: the Boyhood Dream of a Disease Resistant Wheat that Came Trueundated
Writings and Speeches917Important Developments in Small Grains and Flax1941
Writings and Speeches919Improving Small Grain Crops of Texas1946
Writings and Speeches918Improving Small Grain Crops of TexasUndated
Writings and Speeches916Inheritance of Family Traitsundated
Writings and Speeches920Kiwanis Club in Redfield, South Dakota Talk1929
Writings and Speeches921Long Road of Wheat Improvement1947
Writings and Speeches922McFadden's Remarksundated
Writings and Speeches923Mental Inventoryundated
Writings and Speeches924My Aim in Coming to College1914
Writings and Speeches925Nature Cureundated
Writings and Speeches926New Sources of Resistance to Stem Rust and Leaf Rust in Foreign Varieties of Common Wheat, USDA Circular 814, July 19491949
Writings and Speeches927Notes on Grainsundated
Writings and Speeches928Old Number Six and the Texas Small Grains Program, 1889-1969undated
Writings and Speeches929Possibilities and Difficulties in the Field of Wheat Crossing1928
Writings and Speeches930Problems in Small Grain Production in Southern Texasundated
Writings and Speeches931Problems that Challenge the Wheat Breederundated
Writings and Speeches932Product from the Desertundated
Writings and Speeches933Program and Progress in Developing Rust Resistant Small Grains1938
Writings and Speeches934Radical Wheat Breedingundated
Writings and Speeches935Red Rust: the Story behind the Storyundated
Writings and Speeches936Relation of New Rust Resistant Small Grains to the Future Food Supply1940
Writings and Speeches937Rust Situationundated
Writings and Speeches91Scientific and Popular Publications of E.S. McFaddenundated
Writings and Speeches938Seabreeze Wheat1947
Writings and Speeches939Signpostundated
Writings and Speeches940Small Grainundated
Writings and Speeches941Student Roomundated
Writings and Speeches942Synthetic Rust-proof Bread Wheats in the Dakota Farmer, February 1, 19251925
Writings and Speeches943Untitled Brown County, South Dakota Talkundated
Writings and Speeches944Untitled Flaxseedundated
Writings and Speeches945Untitled Polioundated
Writings and Speeches947Untitled Speechundated
Writings and Speeches946Untitled Wheat Production in Mexicoundated
Writings and Speeches948Webster 50 Years Agoundated
Writings and Speeches949Wheat-Rye Hybrids in The Journal of Heredity, Volume 8, Number 7, July 19171917