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The Peter Henry Rolfs Digital Collection contains Rolfs' publications and unpublished papers, some written in collaboration with Clarissa Rolfs. Also included are photographs taken by the Rolfs, correspondence with Professor Rolfs and Clarissa Rolfs, and administrative reports written by Rolfs during his years in Brazil.
Peter Henry Rolfs was born April 17, 1865 in Le Claire, Iowa. He received his B. S. from Iowa State College of Agriculture in 1889 and a M. S. from Iowa Agricultural College in 1891. He began his career at the Agricultural Experiment Station at the Florida Agricultural College in Lake City as a researcher and instructor in Botany and Horticulture. He remained at Lake City from 1892 to 1899. From 1899 to 1901, he served as a botanist and bacteriologist at the Clemson Agricultural College and Experiment Station. He returned to Florida in 1901 as head of the USDA's Plant Introduction Station and Subtropical Laboratory in Miami. In 1906, he was asked to serve as the Director of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and remained there until 1921. He also held the title of Director of Agricultural Extension in Florida, 1915-1920, and Dean of the College of Agriculture, 1915-1920.
In 1920, Rolfs accepted an invitation to establish and direct an agricultural school in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Rolfs served as Director of the Escola Superior de Agricultura e Veterinaria do Estado de Minas Gerais, em Viscosa, until 1929, when he became a technical consultant (Consultor Technico) on agricultural affairs for the State of Minas Gerais. He retired in 1932. During his stay in Brazil, Rolfs was assisted by his daughter, Clarissa, who functioned as his personal secretary, translator, and advisor. After 1932, Professor Rolfs and Clarissa traveled throughout Brazil, South America, and the United States studying agricultural education. He died in 1944.