John K. Parlett was born in St. Mary's County, Maryland, and was a life-long resident of the county and state. He was a farmer and businessman as well as a state legislator, serving as a St. Mary's County Commissioner from 1974-1978 and then as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1981-1986. Parlett and his wife were passionate collectors of agricultural antique artifacts as well as archival materials.
The collection consists of archival materials documenting agricultural practices in America. The material is from national companies as well as local manufacturers and businesses.The collection also contains farming and rural life ephemera and include materials from all regions of the United States. The collection is not livestock or crop specific, and includes materials on dairying, beekeeping, livestock, and crops including tobacco, small grains, hay and forage. It includes almanacs, operator's manuals, catalogues, promotional materials, pocket ledgers and notebooks, mail order catalogs, state fair advertising and catalogues, livestock care and feeding manuals, correspondence, receipts, guarantees, chemical and fertilizer handbooks, account books, "Ladies'" notebooks and calendars, directories, price lists, corporate "yearbooks," clothing advertisements and catalogues, farming practices handbooks, agents' order books, seed guides, National Grange material, farming co-op by-laws and ephemera, agriculture related convention materials, poultry magazines and journals, beekeeping magazines, barn and housing design material, gardening manuals, sales contracts for machinery, appliance manuals, commodity marketing guides, auction catalogues, home canning and meat processing manuals and guides, price lists, and dealer service manuals.
John K. Parlett Agriculture Collection,1859-2011, Archives Center, National Museum of American History