John D. Archbold Papers

Summary Information

Clemson University Libraries Special Collections
Archbold, John, 1910-1993
John D. Archbold Papers
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1947-1991
Date [inclusive]
3.5 cubic feet consisting of 89 folders in seven document boxes; three folders with approximately thirty photographs and one scrapbook; four oversize folders with three maps and reports; and seven reels of 16 mm motion picture film.
John Archbold had a distinguished career as an agriculturalist, sportsman, philanthropist, engineer and conservationist. Beginning in the 1930s as a plantation owner on Dominica he developed a strong interest in tropical agriculture and ecosystems. He sponsored efforts to develop economically viable products for the island and supported research of its fauna and flora. As part of these efforts he donated part of his plantation estate to the Nature Conservancy in 1975 and in 1989 another part to Clemson University to use for the Archbold Tropical Research Center. Beginning with material documenting plantation operations during the 1940s-1960s, the papers document Archbold's many efforts to promote new crops and products as well as tourism. This lead to research sponsored in conjunction with a number of institutions including the Smithsonian and Clemson. The papers include copies of research concerning Dominica and its environment-and also include a variety of publications relating to the topic. There are also records documenting the Archbold/Springfield plantation operations and its donation.

Preferred Citation

[description of item such as "Letter from John Smith, Clemson, SC to Michael Jones, Columbia, SC"], box number, folder number, Mss 261, John Archbold Papers, Special Collections, Clemson University Libraries, Clemson, SC.

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Biographical Note

John Dana Archbold was born on July 10, 1910 at Bar Harbor, Maine the son of Anne Mills Archbold and Armar Desrolles Saunderson. His maternal grandfather, John Dustin Archbold, was the first president of Standard Oil of New Jersey and his paternal grandfather; Colonel Saunderson was a leader of the Unionist Party in Britain. Raised on a dairy farm in England, Archbold acquired a life long love of agriculture and the rural life. Educated at Sidwell Friends School and Choate School, he studied engineering at the University of Geneva and Princeton University. With this training he studied the internal combustion engine and developed a rotary combustion engine that he patented. As a young man Archbold developed a love of sailing and adventure that included sailboat racing across the Atlantic from Newport, Rhode Island to Bergen, Norway in 1934. The following year he crewed on a schooner that went on a treasure hunt in the Caribbean that included visiting Dominica.

Archbold came to love the island and bought a plantation, Springfield in 1935. He began as a producer of citrus crops but over the next fifty years grew a variety of other crops including bananas and cocoa as well as swine and poultry. After a lifetime of supporting a variety of agricultural enterprises on Dominica including a juice cannery, a banana fiber plant, and cocoa production, Archbold recognized that the island lacked the economies of scale necessary to successfully compete in the commercial production of almost all topical products. This convinced him of the value of Dominica as a center for tourism and the preservation of its unique topical ecological features.

Archbold served in the US Navy during World War II and worked in the Office of Strategic Services. He served on the staff of Lord Louis Mountbatten in the China-India-Burma Theater. After the war, he participated in a natural science exploration with his mother Anne Archbold who had an ocean going junk built in China for exploration in Southeast Asia.

A noted philanthropist, Archbold was a member of the Board of Trustees of Syracuse University from 1976 until his death. He served on boards of companies including the Marshal National Bank, the Commonwealth Scientific Corporation, and Jahn-Strades, Ltd. as well as on the boards of Shenandoah University, the Hill School, Skowhegan School of Painting, and Choate-Rosemary Hall. John Archbold received the Order of the British Empire and the Order of St. Olaf from Norway. In 1989, Archbold donated his beloved Springfield Plantation and adjacent estates to Clemson University to create the Archbold Tropical Research Center and received an honorary doctorate from Clemson the following year.

His first wife, the former Elizabeth Brown died in 1939. His 1947 marriage to the former Lucie Seronde ended in divorce. His third wife, Betrande Benoist died in 1966 and his marriage to his fourth wife, the former Phoebe Wildman van Buren, ended in divorce. Archbold had four daughters, Anne Collins, Moira O'Connor, Schellie Archbold, and Jennifer Archbold.

John Dana Archbold died of congestive heart failure on November 29, 1993 at his farm in Upperville, Virginia.

Information for this biography can be found in the biographical materials folder in the papers.

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Scope and Content Note

The papers include correspondence, drawings, maps, motion picture films, photographs, reports, and a scrapbook.

The papers date from 1934-1993 with the bulk of the collection dating from 1947-1991. There is an album of photographs documenting the production of banana fiber, circa 1940s as well as 27 related to the Prince Ruperts Head and Cabrits area and a few other photographs.

The papers were transferred to Special Collections after Archbold's death in no particular order but distinguished by their content of having something to do with his plantation and interests in Dominica. They have been arranged in an alphabetical subject file with items within folders in chronological order.

The papers document Archbold's various business and agricultural endeavors on his Dominican plantations as well as research that he sponsored related to commercial agriculture and a wide variety of studies of the island's fauna. There are records about efforts to develop a banana fiber plant and a variety of studies sponsored in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution.

Oversize material includes maps of the plan of crops on the Archbold plantations, and a variety of drawings of machinery to be used in processing crops and renovating buildings. There are several maps documenting historic fortifications at Prince Ruperts Head in 1799 and of the island of Dominica in 1776 and in the 1980s.

There are two flags of Dominica and Archbold's Clemson Founders plaque.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Clemson University Libraries Special Collections 2010 August 9


The Archbold estate donated the papers to Clemson University in 1996.

Processing Information

Cameron Warren prepared this register in 2003 as part of work in History 893 Archives Practicum with further editorial work done by Michael Kohl and processing help from student assistant Christine Mollineaux in 2004.

The conversion of this finding aid to Encoded Archival Description format was made possible with a grant from the South Carolina State Historical Records Advisory Board in 2009-2010. The finding aid was prepared for encoding by Kristi Roberts.

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Dominica--Maps.
  • Dominica.

Personal Name(s)

  • Archbold, John, 1910-1993
  • Box, Benton H., (Benton Holcomb), 1931-


  • Ecotourism--Tropics
  • Human ecology--Tropics.
  • Tropical crops.

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Collection Inventory


Box Folder

Alien Land Holding and Expulsion 1963 1965 

1 1

American Friends of the University College of the West Indies 1930s 1960-1964 

1 2

Archbold Center for Tropical Studies, Dominica, West Indies by Steve A Wells 1988 

1 3

Archbold/ Springfield Plantations 1952-1986, no date 

1 4

Archbold/ Springfield Plantations Construction and Renovations 1970-1972, no date 

1 5

Archbold/ Springfield Plantations Tourist Rentals and Advertising 1959-1963 

1 6

Archbold/ Springfield Plantations Tourist Rentals and Advertising 1964-1987, no date 

1 7

Archbold/ Springfield Plantations Miscellaneous Advertising 1959-1962 

1 8

Archbold Tropical Research Center 1987-1990 

1 9

Archbold Tropical Research Center 1990-1991, no date 

1 10

Avian Research 1975-1987, no date 

1 11

Bamboo 1943 

2 1

Banana Cultivation and Marketing 1934-1954 

2 2

Banana Cultivation and Marketing 1955-1964, no date 

2 3

Banana Fiber Production 1948-1953 

2 4

Banana Fiber Production 1954-1958, no date 

2 5

Banking and Exchange Controls 1961 1971 1974 

2 6

Bat Research on Dominica 1970-1979, no date 

2 7

Bees for Springfield Plantation 1951 

2 8

Bicentennial Celebration of Birth of James Smithson 1965 

2 9

Biographical Material 1937-1994 

2 9A

Botanical Gardens in Dominica after Hurricane David 1979-1981 1990, no date 

2 10

Bredin Archbold Smithsonian Biological Survey 1963-1965 

2 11-13

Bredin Archbold Smithsonian Biological Survey 1966-1974 

3 1-3

Bredin Archbold Smithsonian Biological Survey Publications 1966-1972 

3 4

Butterflies and Other Insects 1971-1974 

3 5

Citrus Production 1938-1970 

3 6

Cabrits National Park and other Historic Sites 1965-1978 

3 7

Cabrits National Park and other Historic Sites 1979 

3 8

Cabrits National Park and other Historic Sites 1982-1984, no date 

3 9

Clemson University Honorary Degree August 11, 1990 

4 1

Clemson University 1989-1991 

4 2-3

Cocoa Production no date 

4 4

Cocoa Production 1951-1956 

4 5

Cocoa Production 1957-1969 

4 6

Coconuts and Copra 1953-1961 

4 7

Coconuts and Copra 1962-1977, no date 

4 8

Coffee Pulper 1947-1964, no date 

4 9

Correspondence 1963-1986, no date 

4 10

Coors, Holland H 1991 

4 11

Crapaud Frog Research 1960-1970 

4 12

Dedication of Strom Thurmond Institute 1989 

5 1


Box Folder

A Chance for a Choice 1970 

5 2

Conservation Association 1982 

5 3

Constitution Order 1967 

5 4

Environmental Profile, Draft 1990 

5 5

Environmental Profile 1991 

5 6

Government Correspondence 1954-1987 

5 7

Lumber Projects 1962-1980 

5 8

Market Ordinances 1968-1971 

5 9

National Parks 

5 10

Preliminary Data Atlas 1980 

5 11

Prince Rupert Bay Area 1964, no date 

5 12
Box Folder

Dominican Labor and Tenant Ordinances 1951 1953 

5 13

Donation of Springfield Estate 1986-1987 

5 14

Donation of Springfield Estate 1988 

5 15

Donation of Springfield Estate 1989 

6 1

Donation of Springfield Estate 1990-1993, no date 

6 2

Forest Management Demonstration Project 1990-1993, no date 

6 3

Freshwater Shrimp Cultivation 1964-1970 

6 4

Geothermal Energy of Dominica Study 1981 

6 5

Inventory of Crops on Plantations 1951-1962 

6 6

Livestock for Springfield Plantations 1947-1954, no date 

6 7

"Marne Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica: A Case Study in Park Establishment in the Developing World" R. Michael Wright 1985 

6 8

National Park Creation in a Developing Nation: A Case Study of Dominica, West Indies by Bruce Weber 1973 

6 9

National Tropical Botanical Garden 1992 

6 10

Nature Conservancy 1975 

7 1

Nutmeg Productions 1948-1963, no date 

7 2

Operation Caribbean 1949 

7 3

Oxford University Research on Dominica 1983-1986 

7 4

Protozoan Research in Dominica 1978-1979 

7 5

Parrot Conservation Efforts in the Islands of the Antilles (From Puerto Rico to Grenada) by Colmore Christian 1991 

7 6

Policy Guidelines Relating to Management of the National Park System in Dominica 1979 

7 7

Proposals to Archbold 1979-1990, no date 

7 8

References to the Plan of the Island of Dominica by John Byrnes, 1777 (copy) 

7 9

Refrigerated Cargo Ship 1949 

7 10

Research about Miscellaneous Crops 1947-1964, no date 

7 11

Scientific Research in Agriculture and Horticulture-Synopsis of Potential Plant for Dominica circa 1963 

7 12

Snail Research on Dominica 1964-1972 

7 13

Soil content studies on Dominica Plantations and fertilizer orders 1947-1953, no date 

7 14

Tariffs and Taxation Regulations 

7 15

Tung Oil Nut Tree 1935 

7 16

Vanilla Cultivation 1945 

7 17

Water Turbines for Springfield Plantation 1950-1963 

7 18

World Wildlife Foundation 1979-1992 

7 19

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Oversize Material 


VWA Diablotin Vol. 1 No. 1-4 1983 


Plan of Mount Joy Estate March 1989   2.0 item(s) 23.5 x 14 inches


Plan of portion of Springfield Estate 1983   2.0 item(s) 17.5 x 12 inches


Inventory of crops of Clarke Hall, South Chiltern, and Springfield Plantations October 1957-June 1961   23 pages. 11 x 16.5 to 12.75 x 16 inches


Maps of British Honduras 1938, 1943, 1947   14.5 x 11.5 inches


Drawing of Cocoa Drying Plant no date   24.5 x 20 inches


Copy of Certificate of Title for Springfield Estate 1950   16.25 x 13.5 inches


Plan of Springfield Estate 1935   22 x 14 inches


Reprint of front page of Trinidad Guardian February 2, 1963   23 x 17 inches


Reprint of advertisement section of The Wall Street Journal December 2, 1987   22 x 15.5 inches


Map of Dominica 1971-1972   17.75 x 21.75 inches


Map of Dominica 1982   14.25 x 19 inches


Matted Sketch of Woman by Thurmond Nasiey [? ] no date   20 x 23.5 inches


Matted Color Photograph of Springfield Plantation 1975   18.5 x 15.5 inches


The New Chronicle August 22, 1990 


Drawing of Pulping Section of Cocoa Plant 1964   19.75 x 27 inches


Drawing of Hulling Section of Cocoa Plant 1964   19.75 x 27 inches


Drawing of Electric Motor Drive System of Cocoa Plant 1964   31.75 x 21 inches


Drawing of Building for Coconut Fibre Plant 1959   26.75 x 19.5 inches


Drawing of Coconut Husker 1959   23.5 x 17.75 inches


Drawings of Dominican Guest House for John Archbold, Plan, Sections, Revisions 1960   31.5 x 42.5 inches


Contoured Plan of House Site at Mount Joy Estate 1952   22 x 24 inches


11Drawings of Alterations and Additions to Springfield for John Archbold 1971 


4 Drawings of Cultivations of Springfield and Mount Joy Estates 1957 1986   21 x 24.75, 23.5 x 33, 23.5 x 34, and 21.75 x 25.5 inches


Drawings of Coffee Pulper Plant and Machinery 1962   38.5 x 21.5, 26 x 21, 26 x 19.75, 24 x 20, 23 x 15 inches


3 Drawing of water pipeline for turbine at Springfield 1950-1953   40 x 27.5 (2), 30 x 20 inches


2 Drawing of Steel Roof for Springfield Trading Building 1959   40 x 25.75, 19.5 x 36 inches


Drawing of floor plan of Russell House no date   13 x 11 inches


Drawing of Stone Wall for Russell House no date   16 x 11 inches


Drawing of Poll Design and Landscape 1973   33.5 x 27.25 inches


Sketch of Proposed Pool 1973   30.5 x 21 inches


Plan of the Island of Dominica 1776   (positive photograph) 27.25 x 41.5 inches


Plan of the Island of Dominica 1776   (negative photograph) 32 x 42 inches


General Plan of Prince Ruperts Head, Dominica 1799   (copy) 27.5 x 41.5 inches


Plan of Fort Shirley 1799   (copy). 22x30.75 inches


Plan of the Lines of Communication and Batteries at the North Gorge of the Valley at Prince Ruperts Head Dominica 1799   (copy). 25.5 x 31.75 inches


Posters for Dominica Hotels Ltd., West Indies Dominica Roseau no date   2.0 item(s) 20.5 x 30.75 inches


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Motion Picture Films 


[Sailing film]. Produced by Explorers Club [?] no date   16 mm film 7inches, no audio


[Sailing and Dominica]. Produced by Explorers Club [?] no date   16 mm film, 4.5 inches, no audio


Waitukubuli. Michael Brandt Productions, Ltd. for Dominican Tourism Board no date   9.5 inches


Tomorrow's Island. The Rank Organization no date   16 mm film 27 minutes, 11.75 inches.


The World About Us: The Price of Paradise. Produced by BBC Enterprises 1973   16 mm, 14 inches


Dominica. Produced by Canadian Films in cooperation with Dominican National Parks Service 1978   16 mm, 10 inches


Once Upon a Sunday. Produced by Gerald Holdsworth Productions no date   16 mm, 9.5 inches


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Flag with blue background with red and white star-like design in upper left corner with parrots and motto "Apres Bondie C'est La Ter" on right hand side 

Flag of Dominica. Green, yellow, black and white flag with red circle in center and yellow stars and blue-green parrot in circle 

White seal of Clemson University in center, matted with blue and linen signed by Dot Goodwin. Frame has metal plate: "The Founders/ John Archbold" 

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1 (photos)

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