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Special Collections, Hartley Library, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ
The Perkins Agricultural Library supports research on the general practice and improvement of agriculture in the 18th and 19th centuries and is also a valuable source of material on the wider political and economic questions of the period. The county surveys sponsored by the Board of Agriculture between 1793 and 1817 are especially important in this respect, providing a description of the rural and political economy of each county as well as detailed accounts of contemporary farming practice.
The books demonstrate a variety of approaches to agriculture. There are practical handbooks on farming, farming textbooks and encyclopaedias, reports of developments in agricultural chemistry and of the advances in agricultural machinery. The books on field crops range from general guides to discussions of individual crops whilst the animal husbandry section includes numerous publications on the management of cattle, sheep and horses.
Journals held include the Annals of Agriculture, Evans and Ruffy's Farmer's Journal and the Farmer's Magazine.
2,000 books and 40 periodicals, ranging in date from the 17th century to the late 19th century.
Walter Frank Perkins (1865-1946) was born at Bowling Green House in Southampton and was educated at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, later becoming a surveyor in his father's business in Southampton. He became the Member of Parliament for the New Forest in 1910 and on his retirement from politics in 1922 he devoted himself to literary and agricultural pursuits.
Perkins had collected books on agriculture, botany and forestry from an early age and in 1929 published the bibliography British and Irish Writers on Agriculture. Shortly before his death in 1946 he presented his collection to the University College of Southampton, of which he had been the Honorary Treasurer from 1928 to 1933.