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George Myron Shear Papers

Identifier: Ms-1988-006

Scope and Content

This collection contains the papers of George Myron Shear, a plant pathologist and physiologist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute from 1930 to 1970. Among the correspondence are several 1927 letters from the laboratory of Thomas A. Edison regarding a project in which Shear was to collect for the lab various botanical samples of plants containing a milkly latex. Included among these are photocopies of two letters from Thomas A. Edison. (The project arose from Edison's attempt to develop a cost-effective domestic production of rubber.) The remainder of the correspondence relates largely to requests from various individuals for copies of Shear's articles and for assistance with various projects. Other letters relate to nominees for the No-Tillage Pioneer of the Year Award. Also included is a collection of Shear's writings, consisting mostly of printed materials relating to his work with no-tillage farming. Except where otherwise noted, all articles in the collection were either authored or co-authored by Shear. The publications are followed by a bibliography of Shear's reports and articles. A booklet about no-till farming, published by Allis-Chalmers and incorporating research data from Virginia Tech, completes the collection.


  • 1927 - 1986


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials. Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

George Myron Shear, son of Cornelius and Avis Morrison Sherwood Shear, was born in Maryland on April 25, 1905. He earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland in 1927. The 1930 census shows George Shear living in the Arlington, Virginia home of his parents. He is described as 24, single, and unemployed.

Later that year, Shear married Olalla Elaine Glasgow (1906-1983), who, like him, had obtained a master's degree in botany at the University of Illinois in 1928. The Shears would have four children.

Also around 1930, Shear started work at the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station as a plant physiologist. In 1949, he became a professor of plant physiology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He was a pioneer in developing no-tillage farming techniques during the 1960s and was a noted expert on the cultivation of watercress.

George Myron Shear retired from Virginia Tech in 1970. He died in 1990 and was buried in Blacksburg's Westview Cemetery.


0.2 Cubic Feet (1 box)


This collection consists of the papers--including correspondence and published writings--of Virginia Tech plant pathologist and physiologist George Myron Shear. It includes correspondence with the laboratory of Thomas A. Edison.

Source of Acquisition

The George Myron Shear Papers were acquired by Special Collections prior to 1989.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the George Myron Shear Papers by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the George Myron Shear Papers commenced and was completed in December, 2018.

George Myron Shear Papers, 1927-1986
John M. Jackson, Archivist
2018 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US