Harold B. Tukey Collection

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Tukey Bates, Ruth S., Mrs.
Tukey, H. B., (Harold Bradford), 1896-1971
Harold B. Tukey collection
0.1 Cubic feet

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: "Item title, Collection title, Collection Identifier, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan."

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Biographical Note

Harold B. Tukey was a world-renowned horticulturalist and former head of the Michigan State University Department of Horticulture from 1945 to 1963. Tukey’s research career started in 1920 as an assistant horticulturist with the New York Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. Tukey specialized in plant growth regulators and the use of radioisotopes, developed new herbicides, and discovered the uptake of nutrients by plants through their leaves and roots during studies of fall-out products from nuclear detonations. Also, he was one of the first scientists to use plants as test agents in cancer research and the inventor of the plant embryo culture technique. His horticultural expertise was routinely sought by national and international organizations.

A Native of Berwyn, Illinois, Tukey received his B.A. in 1918 and M.A. in 1920 from the University of Illinois. He would go on to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1932. Before joining Michigan State as a faculty member, Tukey was a professor of Pomology and chief in research for Cornell University. He also worked on the faculty committee on athletics at MSU and was elected MSU’s Big Ten faculty athletic representative in 1957. Tukey died in November 1971 in Boca Raton, Florida.

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Scope and Content

This collection consists of an oral history recording on audio cassette tape. The recording is reminiscences of Ruth Tukey Bates (widow of Harold B. Tukey, later Mrs. Emmert Bates) made at her home in Woodland, Michigan on August 30, 1978. Bates recounts aspects of Harold Tukey's professional life, including his graduate studies at the University of Chicago, his work with embryo culture of stone fruits, his decision to move to East Lansing to head the Michigan State College Department of Horticulture, and the founding of the International Horticultural Society after World War II. Also discussed is Tukey's personal life, including the death of his first wife, and meeting Ruth in Geneva, New York.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections February 2010

Conrad Hall
888 Wilson Road, Room 101
East Lansing , MI, 48824

Revision Description

 Removed photographs from inventory (see c.00597). Added audio cassette. (MM, April 2017) April 2017

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Legal Status note

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Michigan State College.
  • Michigan State University.


  • Sound recordings

Personal Name(s)

  • Tukey Bates, Ruth S., Mrs.
  • Tukey, H. B., (Harold Bradford), 1896-1971


  • Horticulture -- Study and teaching
  • Universities and colleges -- Faculty

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Collection Inventory


Taped reminiscences of Ruth Tukey Bates (audio cassette) August 30, 1978