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RG3941.AM:  Paul Henley Roberts, 1891-1971

Papers:  1915-1976

Maxwell, Lincoln County, Neb.; Prescott, Arizona:  Forester

Size:  3.0 cu.ft.; 6 boxes


Paul Henley Roberts was born on a ranch near Maxwell, Lincoln County, Nebraska, in 1891. He received a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Nebraska in 1915. Roberts began his career with the U.S. Forest Service, while an undergraduate, in 1912. From that year until 1917, he served as a Forest Ranger and Grazing Examiner. After World War I, he was Forest Supervisor of the Sitgreaves National Forest, 1921-1931. During the 1930s Roberts was placed in charge of shelterbelt plantings (i.e. the strategic planting of trees, grouping them together as windbreaks, for the protection of crops and land), extending from the Dakotas to Texas. He also served as Chief Administrative Officer in the research branch of the U.S. Department of Forestry in Washington, D.C., Director of the Prairie States Forestry Projects, and Associate Director and Director of the Government Emergency Rubber Project, 1942-1946.

From 1946 through 1951 Roberts was Chief of Range Management in Missoula, Montana. He retired in 1951, but worked with the Missouri Basin Survey Commission during 1952 and 1953. Roberts published two books and many articles on forestry and the administration of forests. His first book, Hoof Beats On Forest Ranges, traced the first 25 years (1905-1930) of range administration on forestlands. His second work, Them Were The Days, contains stories about forestry officers and the people with whom they made contacts. Roberts was the recipient of the Superior Service Award and was named Forester Emeritus by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He died in 1971.


This collection is arranged in five series: 1) Correspondence, 1915-1976; 2) Manuscripts written by Paul H. Roberts; 3) Articles collected by Paul H. Roberts; 4) Newspaper clippings; and 5) Miscellaneous. The collection relates primarily to Paul H. Roberts’ career in the Forest Service. His work on the Missouri Basin Survey Commission, and as an author and researcher, is also documented, as well as extensive information relating to The Shelterbelt Program.

Series 1 consists of Correspondence, 1915-1976, written by, to, and about Paul H. Roberts. Topics include his appointments to various positions throughout his career, the Shelterbelt Program, forest and soil conservation, the Emergency Rubber Project during World War II, the Colorado Spruce Beetle Project, legislation affecting and problems faced by the Forest Service, natural resources programs, and research in which Roberts is engaged. Series 2 contains manuscripts written by Paul H. Roberts, which are comprised of rough drafts, articles, Forest Service 50th Anniversary materials, autobiographical writings, and talks given by Roberts before various clubs. Published material is noted within the collection. Folders 1-3 of this series consist of a rough draft of The Prairie State Forestry Project: The Shelterbelt Project, written by Paul H. Roberts in collaboration with John H. Emerson and Henry L. Lobenstein. Folder 4 contains other Shelterbelt articles, while Folders 5 and 6 include articles dealing with other topics, such as Prescott National Forest, Elk herds, grazing, forest service history, conservation, and book reviews.

The articles collected by Paul H. Roberts in Series 3 discuss the Shelterbelt Program, range management and grazing, forest service reminiscences, conservation, and irrigation. The newspaper clippings of Series 4 provide biographical information about Paul H. Roberts, announcements of awards and honors he received, book reviews on Roberts’ books, Shelterbelt project material, biographical information and obituaries of other Forest Service rangers, and topical material for Roberts’ research. Series 5 consists of miscellany, containing biographical information on Paul H. Roberts, Shelterbelt material, pamphlets, programs, research notes, reminiscences and interview material.

Note: Photographs of shelterbelts and agricultural practices, as well as a few personal photographs, have been transferred to the Photo collection [RG3941.PH]. A few volumes on geology and irrigation have been transferred to the library collection.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1915-1976

Box 1


  1. 1915-1940

  2. 1941-1950

  3. 1951-1954

  4. 1955

  5. 1956

Box 2


  1. 1957

  2. 1958-1962

  3. 1963-1964

  4. 1965

  5. 1966-1967

Box 3


  1. 1968, Jan.-Sept.

  2. 1968, Oct.-1976, n.d.

Series 2 – Manuscripts written by Paul H. Roberts

  1. The Prairie State Forestry Project: The Shelterbelt Project, by Paul H. Roberts and collaborated on by John H. Emerson and Henry L. Lobenstein, Chapters 1-3

  2. The Prairie State Forestry Project: The Shelterbelt Project, Chapters 4-10

  3. The Prairie State Forestry Project: The Shelterbelt Project, Handwritten chapters

  4. Shelterbelt material

Box 4


  1. Inspection of Prescott National Forest, 1922

    Missouri Basin Survey Commission Report, 1952

    “Birds and Mammals” by Paul H. Roberts and J.H. Stone in Wild Life: A Forest Resource

    Sitgreaves Elk Herd

    Sun River Elk Herd

    Grazing Management

    Forest Service 50th Anniversary

  2. Paul H. Roberts autobiographical material


    Historical pieces

    Excerpt from Roberts’ book, Them Were The Days

    Book reviews written by Paul H. Roberts

Series 3 – Articles collected by Paul H. Roberts

  1. The Shelterbelt Projection in the Southern Great Plains, 1934-1970: A Geographical Appraisal, M.A. Thesis by James B. Lang, University of Oklahoma, 1970

  2. Shelterbelt material

Box 5


  1. Range Management and Grazing Material

  2. Reminiscences of Forest Service Rangers

  3. Germination Behavior of Tree Seeds Observed at Norfolk, Nebraska, 1941

  4. Stock Poisoning Plants of the Range, by C.D. Marsh, 1918

  5. Report by the Dept. of Agriculture, 1949

  6. Proceedings of the 55th Annual Convention of the Nebraska State Irrigation Association, 1947

  7. Making the Optimum Use of Water Supply

  8. The Trips of 1963 and 1964 into the Teton Wilderness Area

Series 4 – Newspaper clippings

Folders 1-3: Includes biographical information about Paul H. Roberts; announcements of awards and honors he received; book reviews on Roberts’ books; Shelterbelt Project material; and biographical information and obituaries of other Forest Service rangers. Topical material for research.

Series 5 – Miscellaneous

Box 6

Folders 1-4: Includes biographical information on Paul H. Roberts; Shelterbelt material; pamphlets; programs; research notes; reminiscences; and interview material.



Foresters — Correspondence, reminiscences, etc.

Natural resources — Missouri River Valley

Prairie States Forestry Project (U.S.)

Roberts, Paul Henley, 1891-1971

Tree planting — Great Plains

United States. Forest Service

United States. Missouri Basin Survey Commission

Windbreaks, shelterbelts, etc. — Great Plains


AIF   12-12-1979

Revised kfk   03-28-2003

Encoded TMM   08-02-2011