Charles Dadant Papers, 1861-1937

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of correspondence dealing with the experiments, controversies, and activities of bee men in the United States and Europe especially during the decades of the 1870's and 1880's, but continuing into the early twentieth century. The papers are divided into seven series, six of which are organized around individuals: Charles Dadant, Camille Pierre Dadant, Edouard Bertrand, Frank C. Pellett, H. J. O. Walker, and H. F. Wilson. The remaining series is Charles Dadant & Son. Since many bee men, and certainly the principals of this collection, were singularly, even passionately devoted to the progress of beekeeping, no neat separation in their lives or papers can be made between business affairs and intellectual pursuits, earning a living and advancing beekeeping, self-interest and altruism; consequently, the series based on individuals contain information of a business character as well as of their intellectual concerns, and the series Charles Dadant & Son includes material on the bee literature and debates of the time. The first three series, Charles Dadant, Camille Pierre Dadant, and Charles Dadant & Son, make up the bulk of the collection. The series Charles Dadant, Camille Pierre Dadant, and Edouard Bertrand are in French; the series Charles Dadant & Son is mostly in English, with some French and Italian; the other series are in English, except for a few items indicated in the contents list below.

The CHARLES DADANT series consists of correspondence between Charles Dadant and Edouard Bertrand, editor of Revue Internationale d'Apiculture (Nyon, Switzerland). It is divided into two groups: Letters to Edouard Bertrand, 1879-1901, and Letters from Edouard Bertrand, 1879-1895. Charles Dadant wrote often and well. His letters are detailed, technical, and sometimes lengthy studies of all aspects of beekeeping, in which contemporary bee literature and developments are treated and the ideas and contributions of European and American bee men assessed. Charles Dadant discussed with Bertrand articles he was submitting for publication, the drafts of some of which are included, for example, “Faut-il faire produire de la cire aux abeilles?” of December 29, 1892. He wrote of his own experiments, the experiments of others, and the progress of the family business, Charles Dadant & Son. Here are reflected with considerable competence and detail the thought, practices, and history of American and European beekeeping during the last decades of the nineteenth century. The letters also reveal the philosophy of Dadant, who described himself as an ardent Fourierist. He spoke passionately and at length on socialism and capitalism, the Familistère at Guise (Aisne) of André Godin, and the railroad strikes in the United States; and on politics, religion, and his experiences in French trade and commerce. (See his letters in the years 1885-1888, especially the thirty-page letter of January 20, 1886). Several letters included in the subseries are not from Dadant to Edouard Bertrand; they are: Edouard Bertrand to A. I. Root, June 25 1883; A. I. Root to Edouard Bertrand, July 10, 1883; Frank Benton to Charles Dadant, January 31, 1884, and the enclosed article, “A Wasp's Nest in France”; and three letters written to Edouard Bertrand in the spring of 1891, which refer to the new edition of The Hive and the Honey Bee. The second subseries consists of Bertrand's replies to Dadant, and deal with his editorial responsibilities and with beekeeping developments. But he also was engaged by Dadant to discuss religion and the social question. The last folder of the series is titled Miscellany and consists of two letters, four biographical sketches, two newspaper advertisements of beehive patents, and three photographs, itemized in the contents list below. The Charles Dadant series involves many individuals who also appear in the Charles Dadant & Son series.

The CAMILLE PIERRE DADANT series consists of letters by C. P. Dadant to Edouard and Madame Bertrand during the years 1900-1916, involving the preparation of a new edition (1907) of The Hive and the Honey Bee and translations into French and Italian, editorial responsibilities at the American Bee Journal, and articles by Dadant and other writers. Dadant referred to contemporary bee literature and practices here and abroad; bee conventions he attended; the production of honey, beeswax, wine, and fruit which his sons managed; and the damming of the Mississippi River at Hamilton. He described American customs, regional characteristics, and geography as well as the health and progress of his family. In the summers of 1900 and 1913 Dadant and his wife Marie traveled to Europe and visited the Bertrands. Some of his impressions of individual European bee men and of European beekeeping practices were given during the second trip. In the years 1914-1916 Dadant commented on the world war. The series also includes several letters arranged alphabetically by correspondent. The four letters written in 1885-1886 are from relatives and friends of the family; the two letters written in the 1920's refer to the C.C. Miller Memorial Apicultural Library; a letter dated May 31, 1934 is from a Finnish bee man; and four letters written in the years 1933-1935 are from Victor Dumas, editor of L'Abeille et le Miel (Castanet-Tolosan, Haute-Garonne), with Dadant's replies.

The CHARLES DADANT & SON series falls within the period when the firm was known by its original name. The series consists of incoming letters arranged alphabetically by correspondent, mainly from American beekeepers requesting bee products and supplies. Their orders reflect the needs, trends, and growth of the bee industry in the 1870's and 1880's and the contribution of Charles Dadant & Son to that development. Several of the correspondents were editors of bee magazines, many of which were short-lived. Their letters, often addressed to Charles Dadant rather than the firm, refer to articles by him and other writers and to contemporary bee literature, controversies, and developments. Editors appearing in the series are: D. L. Adair, Annals of Bee Culture (Hawesville, Kentucky); Henry Alley, American Apiculturist (Wenham, Massachusetts); W. F. Clarke, American Bee Journal (Chicago, Illinois, 1873-1874); E. Drory, Rucher du Sud-Ouest (Bordeaux); A. Fragnière, Messager (Fribourg); H. Hamet, Apiculteur (Paris); W. Z. Hutchinson, Bee-Keepers' Review (Flint, Michigan); A. J. King, Bee-Keepers' Magazine (New York, New York); Homer A. King, Bee-Keepers' Journal & National Apiculturist (New York, New York); N. C. Mitchell, Illustrated Bee Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana); A. F. Moon, North American Bee Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana) and Moon's Bee World (Rome, Georgia); Thomas G. Newman, American Bee Journal (Chicago, Illinois, 1875-1892); A. I. Root, Gleanings in Bee Culture (Medina, Ohio); Ellen S. Tupper, National Bee Journal (Des Moines, Iowa); and Samuel Wagner, American Bee Journal (Washington, D.C., 1851, 1866-1872). The series also provides information on the traffic in Italian bees, especially in the letters from Giuseppi Fiorini of Monselice, 1873-1883; and on the preparations for the fourth edition (1888) of The Hive and the Honey Bee in the letters from L. L. Langstroth of Dayton, Ohio. Several letters not addressed to the firm or Dadant are included in the series: letters by Charles Dadant to Anna (Langstroth) Cowan, August 1, 1887, H. C. Cowan, August 11, 1887, and L. L. Langstroth, and October 7 and 24, 1887 and November 3, 1887; letters concerning the preparation of engravings for The Hive and the Honey Bee, Charles Dadant & Son perhaps to L. L. Langstroth, July 31, 1887, and to C. L. A. Probst, December 22, 1887, and Georges de Layens probably to Charles Dadant, January 7, 1886; and letters concerning Italian bees, R. Odinet to Giuseppi Fiorini, August 20 and September 17, 1875, and Charles Dadant to Ellen S. Tupper, October 23, 1870.

The series EDOUARD BERTRAND, FRANK C. PELLETT, H. J. O. WALTER, and H. F. WILSON each consist of one folder of incoming letters arranged alphabetically by correspondent and relating to the professional bee activities and interests of the principals. Papers other than incoming letters are itemized in the contents list. In the first series mention is made of the planned visit of Camille Pierre Dadant to the Société d'Apiculture of Lyons in the summer of 1913; in the second, to lectures to be presented before beekeepers' societies; in the third, to bee literature and lore; and in the fourth, to the National Beekeepers' Association, the American Bee Journal, and the C.C. Miller Collection. Edouard Bertrand (1832-1917) was publisher and editor of Revue Internationale d'Apiculture (Nyon, Switzerland) in the years 1879-1903, author of La Conduite du Rucher (1882-1883), and an advocate of the movable-frame hive. Frank C. Pellett (1879-1951) was a naturalist, state inspector of apiaries (Iowa) in the years 1912-1917, managing editor from 1918 and field editor from 1925 of the American Bee Journal (Hamilton, Illinois), and author of many books on nature, among which are American Honey Plants (1920) and History of American Beekeeping (1938). Lieutenant Colonel H. J. O. Walker of Budleigh Satterton, Devon, was a member of the British Beekeepers' Association and collector of bee literature, old and new, much of which was added to the C.C. Miller Collection in the agricultural library of the University of Wisconsin in 1929. Harley Frost Wilson (1883-1959) was a professor in the Department of Economic Entomology of the University of Wisconsin, custodian of the C.C. Miller Collection from its inception in 1922 until his retirement in 1948, president of the American Honey Producers' League in the years 1923-1927, secretary of the Wisconsin State Beekeepers' Association in the late 1920's, and editor of Wisconsin Beekeeping in the years 1924-1931.