Soil Survey History

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A long-time PSSAC member, William Reed, has written a book “History of  Soil Survey in California.” It is a compilation of the chapters included on this website, expanded with additional content and images, and continues through the 2000’s. Learn more at this link:

The denizens of soil scientists mapping the astonishingly productive and widely varied soils of California have included several famous and a few brilliant amongst hundreds of hardworking men and women. Up and down the mountains and valleys of California they have traversed to uncover, and then record for others, the secrets of the soil.

Table of California’s Soil Mapping Efforts

Decade Overview Link to Text and Photos
1800’S Hilgard at UC Berkeley. Formation of the Bureau of Soils. Link to 1800s
1900’s Hilgard debates Bureau Chief Whitney about Soil Properties. Macy Lapham Records early California Soil Mapping Activity. Link to 1900s
1910’s Charlie Shaw coordinates Cooperative Agreement between Division of Soils and University of California. Reconnaissance Surveys Completed. Link to 1910s
1920’s Soil Classification for California developed by Charlie Shaw. Detailed soil mapping in many counties. Link to 1920s