Dr. James Watson materials to reside at Michigan State’s Turfgrass Information Center

Dr. James Watson materials to reside at Michigan State’s Turfgrass Information Center

Donation further strengthens world’s largest collection of turfgrass-related content.

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October 14, 2016

The Turfgrass Information Center of the Michigan State University Libraries has announced the arrival of a major donation of turfgrass industry materials from the family of the late Dr. James R. Watson. Included are a wide range of materials with hundreds of monographs, including university extension publications and bulletins, as well as 2,000-plus issues of periodical titles and assorted handwritten notes, loose articles, project binders, corporate-related papers, advertisements, commercial items, business correspondence, and personal papers. Watson’s materials also came with a few dozen boxes of slides and photographic materials, which could well be of significance to the history of the discipline.

Watson (1920-2013) was known for a variety of turfgrass-related accomplishments, both nationally and internationally. He received his bachelor’s degree in agronomy in 1947 from Texas A&M University and in 1950 earned his doctorate from Penn State University. After graduating, he became an assistant professor at Texas A&M before joining The Toro Company in 1952 as the director of agronomy. Watson was responsible during that time for leading a team of 25 researchers, and establishing test plots. The area where these tests were conducted is now known as the Dr. James R. Watson Research & Development Proving Grounds. By the end of his illustrious career at Toro, Watson retired not only with the title of vice president of agronomy, but also having led the way in turfgrass research for adaptability of species and cultivars, fertilization practices, equipment development, snow mold prevention, and water management research.

Following retirement, Watson acted as a consultant to Toro and the turfgrass industry as a whole. He was the recipient of numerous industry awards, including the United States Golf Association’s Green Section Award in 1976, the first recipient of the Crop Society of America’s Fred V. Grau Turfgrass Science Award in 1987, the Old Tom Morris Award from GCSAA in 1995, the USGA Green Section’s Piper and Oakley Award in 1998 and the USGA’s Ike Grainger Award in 2009.

Those throughout the industry agree that he was a man with vision and knowledge, revered as a pioneer in turfgrass science, and that turfgrass science has been made considerably better thanks to his extensive efforts over the years. A dedicated turfgrass researcher, Watson passed away on Oct. 1, 2013 at the age of 92. 

Click here for a list of materials by or about Dr. James R. Watson currently indexed.

The Watson materials join the O. J. Noer Memorial Turfgrass Collection at Michigan State University. The Noer Collection and the James B Beard Turfgrass Library Collection form the strongest single public collection of turfgrass related content in the world. Records for items within the Watson materials have already started to appear within the Turfgrass Information File (TGIF) database, and originals are available for consulting use within the Turfgrass Information Center at MSU.

Special thanks are due to the Watson family for making this donation, and to the Toro Company for facilitating this transfer.