USDA Soil Surveys of Georgia, 1901-1954

Ben Hill County
Soil survey map of Ben Hill County, Georgia, 1913

Soil survey maps provide an inventory of the different kinds of soils tested in a single area (such as a county), identify the areas that specific soils occupy, and aid in establishing a location’s suitability for specific residential or commercial use. Soil surveys were first authorized in the United States by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1896. Since that time, the surveys have been conducted and published regularly as part of a cooperative effort between the USDA and state and federal agencies as part of the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS).

While current soil classification data is useful for farming, land development and industrial planning, the cultural information that is also contained in some of these older survey maps provides researchers with information about old neighborhoods, historical structures, defunct railway lines, or how roads and highways may have changed geographically over time. Those with little interest in soil classification or historical geographic representation of Georgia’s counties will still appreciate the colorful maps and legends.

Soil survey map of Chatham County, Georgia, 1912


Eighty-five USDA historical soil survey maps are available in the Digital Library of Georgia, as part of the collection USDA Soil Surveys of Georgia, 1901-1954.


A look back at World War I

Frank Buckles misrepresented his age to recruiters in 1917 because the 16-year-old yearned for the adventure of warfare. His service in “the war to end all wars” left him with a fresh understanding of the horror. News that Buckles passed away Sunday at 110 years old makes  it a fitting time to reflect on what remains in our collective conscience. The Vanishing Georgia Collection contains a number of photos,  mostly depicting  life around the state.


Here is a “bird’s eye view” of a tent city, thought to be Camp Hancock near Augusta.

In Liberty County members of the class of 1918 at State Normal School unveiling the WWI service flag that the students made and presented on the steps of the county Courthouse.

In France, where Frank Buckles served, Georgia boy Tola Harris dons a uniform complete with a chilling gas mask around his neck.

Down in Fitzgerald, WWI Red Cross nurses are seen on a float in front of  the Carnegie Library on S. Lee Street, circa 1918.