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Evans, Walter Harrison (1863-1941) | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Name: Evans, Walter Harrison (1863-1941)

Historical Note:

Walter Harrison Evans (1863-1941) was born Jan. 3, 1863 in Delphi, Indiana and died Nov. 1st 1941 in Florence, South Carolina. Evans attended Wabash College where he earned a MS degree in Systematic and Ecological Studies and his Ph.D. in Botany and Disease of Plants.  During this time Evans married Bessie B. Evans and they had one child, a daughter, in 1894, Margaret B. Evans Willoughby. Evans’ and his family lived in Washington DC while he worked as a botanist for the USDA Office of Experimental Science, where he worked for most all of his life. Evans was an active scholar and scientist in his field, and served as Treasurer and latter President for the Botanical Society of Washington, as well as held the botanical editorial position for the Department of Agriculture’s Experiment Station Record.

In both 1897 and 1898, along with Professor C.C. Georgenson as project leader, Evans traveled on coastal boat expeditions to Alaska. The trips covered over 3,500 miles by boat from the southern coasts along Dixon Entrance to the southwest coasts and island chain to Unalaska. The task was to survey Alaska’s coastal region for agricultural readiness. At this time Congress was investigating the establishment of agricultural experimental stations in Alaska, partly because Congress perceived that workers moving to Alaska to develop the rich mineral and resource content in Alaska would need a ready and large supply of food. The remote and vastness of Alaska made transport of supplies difficult, expensive, and weather dependent, so a goal of the proposed experimental stations was to determine if the soil and suitability of the climate were conducive to food cultivation. The development of agriculture in Alaska was perceived to also help support and supply local demands, as well as an increasing population.

From these 1897 and 1898 ventures and research, Evans authored a number of scientific publications related to Alaska. Evans also worked with Sheldon Jackson, who was consulted because of Jackson’s existing work on agriculture in the Yukon area, a collaboration which led to both Evans and Jackson authoring official reports to Congress about overall findings in Alaska.


Evans, Walter H. "Some of the Conditions and Possibilities of Agriculture in Alaska." National Geographic Magazine 9 (1898): 178-87. Archive.org. Web. 7` Feb. 2014.

"South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1943," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N9KM-BVS: accessed 7 Feb 2014), Walter Harrison Evans, 01 Nov 1941.

United States. National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives Census Records. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. Print.

United States. United State Agricultural Research Service. Office of Experiment Stations. Experiment Stations Record. Vol. 9. N.p.: US Office of Experiment Stations, 1898-1899. Http://digital.library.unt.edu/explore/collections/USESRD/. University of North Texas, 21 Apr. 2008. Web. 7 Feb. 2014.

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