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Curtis Fletcher Marbut

Curtis Fletcher Marbut


Curtis Marbut, a geologist from Missouri, is inducted for founding the international principles of soil sciences, classifications and mapping.

Marbut graduated from the University of Missouri in 1889 and Harvard University in 1894. He was an instructor of geology and mineralogy at MU in 1895 and the Professor and Curator of the Geology Museum until 1913.

Dr. Marbut was appointed to direct the Missouri Soil Survey in 1905. In 1910, he was appointed Soil Survey Scientist for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and became Chief of the Soil Survey Division in 1913.

During his twenty year tenure with the USDA, the study of soils became a recognized science. Dr. Marbut traveled throughout the world, studying and classifying soils in Europe, Russia, Africa and South Africa. He worked closely with international scientists to establish soil science and geography. For a generation, Dr. Marbut’s wisdom dominated mapping and soil classification.

In 1935, the Chinese government invited Marbut to help lead soil classification in Asia, but he died of pneumonia en route to the assignment, at the age of 72, in Harbin, Manchuria.

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