USDA Tobacco Seed Packets

In 1839 the U. S. Patent Office founded the U. S. Propagation Garden, run by William Saunders, who continued to supervise the garden when it was moved to the Department of Agriculture in 1862. The garden would breed economically viable plants and mail the seeds to farmers across the United States. In the early 20th century the USDA ran a wide ranging soil sample study, and then focused on tobacco as a cash crop. Studies done by Milton Whitney, A. D. Shamel, and W. W. Cobey of the USDA proposed introducing shade grown seed leaf tobacco to Connecticut. This broad leaf tobacco was hybridized with Sumatra tobacco that could be used for cigar wrappers and sold for $2.50 to $3 per pound, up from 18 or 20 cents per pound for the Connecticut Havana tobacco. This switch to a Sumatra hybrid was a boon to the Connecticut Valley tobacco industry, who originally received seeds from the USDA to spur their change.
Object Name
seed packets, tobacco
overall: 2 1/2 in x 2 in; 6.35 cm x 5.08 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
American Enterprise
See more items in
Work and Industry: Agriculture
American Enterprise
American Enterprise
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.