11/14/2014 10:22 AM
BATON ROUGE – In the first collection of published writings of Thomas Affleck (1812–1868), Associate Dean of Research & Development at the LSU College of Art & Design and associate professor in the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture Lake Douglas reestablishes the reputation of a tireless agricultural reformer, entrepreneur and horticulturist.
Affleck’s wide range of interests – animal husbandry, agriculture, scientific farming,
ornamental horticulture, insects and hydrology, among others – should afford him a
celebrated status in several disciplines; yet until now his immense contributions
have remained largely unheralded. “Steward of the Land,” published by LSU Press in October, remedies this oversight with a broad, annotated
selection of Affleck’s works, rightfully placing him alongside his better-known contemporaries
Andrew Jackson Downing and Frederick Law Olmsted.
After immigrating to the United States from Scotland in 1832, Affleck witnessed the
burgeoning American expansion and its major advances in agriculture and technology.
He worked as a journalist for the influential Western Farmer and Gardener, covering
Ohio, Kentucky, and the Mississippi River Valley. Affleck moved to Mississippi in
1842 to manage his new wife’s failing plantation; there, he created one of the first
commercial nurseries of the South, while writing prolifically on numerous agrarian
topics for regional periodicals and newspapers. From 1845 to 1865 he edited “Affleck’s
Southern Rural Almanac and Plantation and Garden Calendar,” published in New Orleans.
Following a postwar move to Brenham, Texas, he published letters and essays about
rebuilding that state’s livestock herds and rejuvenating its agricultural labor forces.
“Steward of the Land” includes excerpts from dozens of Affleck’s articles on subjects
ranging from bee keeping to gardening to orchard tending. This valuable single-volume
resource reveals Affleck’s astonishing breadth of horticultural knowledge and entrepreneurial
sagacity, and his role in educating mid-nineteenth-century readers about agricultural
products and practices, plant usage, and environmental stewardship. Never before collected
or contextualized, Affleck’s writings provide a firsthand account of the advancement
of agricultural techniques and practices that created a new environmental awareness
Douglas is the author of “Public Spaces, Private Gardens: A History of Designed Landscapes
in New Orleans.” In August 2013, he was appointed as the associate dean of research
& development at the LSU College of Art & Design. Douglas received a Bachelor of Landscape
Architecture from LSU, a Master in Landscape Architecture from Harvard Graduate School
of Design, and a Ph.D. in urban studies/urban history from the University of New Orleans.
His dissertation research involved horticultural commerce as an agency of community
growth, and his current research involves documenting 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century
urban life in New Orleans through the development of public and private open spaces.
His other areas of interest include enhancing communities through cultural development,
using research skills to inform design strategies, and developing communication skills
through effective writing.
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2014