Thomas L. Martin and BYU

In 1921 President Franklin S. Harris began to reorganize the academic structure of Brigham Young University and recruit new faculty members to the university. Among his early recruiting successes was Thomas L. Martin. Professor Martin had a doctoral degree from Cornell University and was asked to join the faculty of the university as the department chair of the Agricultural Department. He would be a member of the faculty for 37 years.

Professor Martin was renowned as a soils agronomist and was extremely enthusiastic about research. It was an enthusiasm that he shared with his agronomy students and which Martin worked hard to install as a key component of agricultural education at Brigham Young University. He was very successful in this effort. In 1950, he was acclaimed by the American Society of Agronomy as the most successful teacher of agriculture in the United States.

Thomas L. Martin and his agronomy class, 1930s. Professor Martin is the shortest of the group.

Thomas L. Martin and his agronomy class, 1930s. Professor Martin is the shortest of the group.

Professor Martin wanted students to have the best possible educational experience and worked to strengthen the curriculum of the Agricultural Department as well as that of the College of Applied Science. He oversaw the addition of two new courses (bacteriology and landscape architecture) to the College of Applied Science curriculum in 1936. Professor Martin would eventually serve as Dean of the College of Applied Sciences.

The University Archives is home to several collections that document the impact the Professor Martin had on Brigham Young University. They include:

  • UA 98 Thomas L. Martin Papers, 1924-1950. This collection includes correspondence, scrapbook items, published works, and other items documenting Professor Martin’s academic career.
  • UA 1065 Thomas L. Martin Photographs, 1924-1950. This collection includes photographs of Thomas L. Martin as well as photographs taken by Professor Martin.
  • MSS 3687 William Martin photograph of Thomas L. Martin, 1950. This photograph is of Thomas L. Martin in a group with two other men and three other women. It was taken in December 1950 by Thomas L. Martin’s son, William.
  • BX 8670.1 .M367m My Life Story by Thomas L. Martin. This item is an autobiographical work by Thomas L. Martin.
  • BX 8663.1 .C47 1924-25 no.4 Lesson book for the religion classes in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, fifth grade. This religious instruction manual was authored by Thomas L. Martin for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If you would like to learn more about researching the contributions of faculty members such as Thomas L. Martin, contact the University Archivist at (801) 422-5821 or gordon_daines@byu.edu.

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