Potatoes in Special Collections

Idaho has long history being associated with potato growing. Ask many people around the country about what they know about Idaho and they'll answer, "Potatoes!" The University of Idaho Library's Special Collections and Archives documents some of the University's history with potatoes.

UI President Jesse Buchanan, Restaurateur Dario L. Toffenetti, and Idaho Governor Charles A. Robins

Left to right: UI President Jesse Buchanan, Restaurateur Dario L. Toffenetti, and Idaho Governor Charles A. Robins.

UI President Jesse Buchanan, Restaurateur Dario L. Toffenetti, and Idaho Governor Charles A. Robins pose with Idaho potatoes. Mr. Toffenetti helped put Idaho potatoes on the national restaurant scene by extensively yet poetically advertising Idaho-grown baked potatoes that were served in his restaurants in Chicago and New York.

Agricultural engineering. University of Idaho. Dean James E. Kraus using a potato seed piece machine.

Dean James E. Kraus using a potato seed piece machine, circa 1947.

The University of Idaho College of Agriculture has performed research on potatoes and potato farming. Dr. James E. Kraus is seen here using a potato seed piece cutting machine. According to the caption on the back of the image, this machine was developed by the departments of plant pathology and agricultural engineering, and was widely used by Southern Idaho potato growers when this photo was taken circa 1947. Large operators would have four or five of the cutters hooked up in tandem. The machine uses a circular blade that rotates through a disinfecting bath, helping to prevent ring rot in the potatoes.

Dr. Kraus was the first full time potato researcher to be employed in the state of Idaho when he received his position of Associate Horticulturist at the University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Branch Experiment Station in 1941. He retired in 1972 as Dean of the College of Agriculture.

Carl Kiilsgaard passes a potato.

Carl Kiilsgaard passes a potato, circa 1946-1949. 

Vandal Football legend Carl Kiilsgaard passes a potato for a publicity stunt sometime during his student tenure from 1946 to 1949.  After graduation, Carl was drafted and briefly played for NFL’s Chicago Cardinals in 1950 before being called back into active duty during the Korean War.  A life-long University of Idaho supporter, he accepted a position as director of the UI Foundation in 1973 which he kept for just over 20 years.  Carl passed away at the age of 84 on Tuesday Oct. 6, 2009.

Potatoes in Special Collections