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Biographical entry Prescott, James Arthur (1890 - 1987)

7 October 1890
Bolton, Lancashire, England
6 February 1987
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Agricultural scientist


James Prescott was Director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute, University of Adelaide from 1938. Earlier he was Chief of the Division of Soils CSIR from 1929 and Professor of Agricultural Chemistry, University of Adelaide from 1924. He was the father of J.R. Prescott.


Born Bolton, Lancashire, 7 October 1890, Died Adelaide, 6 February 1987. CBE 1947. Educated Manchester (BSc 1911, MSc 1919) and Leipzig Universities. DSc, University of Adelaide 1932. Ministry of Agriculture Research Scholar, Rothamsted Experimental Station 1912-16; Chief Chemist and Superintendent of Field Experiments, Bahtim Experimental Station, Sultanic Agricultural Society Egypt 1916-24; Professor of Agricultural Chemistry, Waite Agricultural Research Institute, University of Adelaide 1924-55, Director 1938-55, professor Emeritus from 1956; chief, Division of Soils, CSIR 1929-47 (part-time). H.G. Smith Medal, Royal Australian Chemical Institute 1931; Joseph Verco Medal, Royal Society of South Australia 1938; John Lewis Medal, South Australian Branch, Royal Geographical Society 1948; Farrer Medal, Farrer Memorial Committee of New South Wales 1948; Australian Medal of Agricultural Science, Australian Institute of Agricultural Science 1950; Fellow, Royal Society 1951; Foundation Fellow, Australian Academy of Science 1954; Mueller Medal, Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science 1954. President, Royal Society of South Australia 1932-33; president, Royal Australian Chemical Institute 1936-37; president, Australian Institute of Agricultural Science 1940-41. Chairman, CSIR Oenological Research Committee 1938-55; Council member and scientific adviser, Australian Wine Research Institute 1955-70. Commemorated by J.A. Prescott Medal, established in 1971 by the Australian Society of Soil Science for outstanding contributions to soil science and climatology.

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Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • James Arthur Prescott - Records, 1806 - 1986, MS 166; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

Waite Agricultural Research Institute

  • James Arthur Prescott - Records, 1947 - 1956; Waite Agricultural Research Institute. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions

Journal Articles

  • Prescott, J. A., 'Obituary: A. E. V. Richardson', Australian Journal of Science, vol. 13, no. 4, 1951, pp. 102-103. Details
  • Prescott, J. A., 'Agricultural Sciences', Proceedings of the Royal Society of South Australia, vol. lxxvii, 1954, pp. vii-xi. Details
  • Stephens, C. G. and Quirk, J. P., 'James Arthur Prescott, 7 October 1890 - 6 February 1987, elected F.R.S. 1951', Biographical Memoirs Fellows of the Royal Society, vol. 34, 1988, pp. 641-68. Details
  • Stephens, C.G. and Quirk, J.P., 'James Arthur Prescott 1890-1987', Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 7, no. 3, 1988, pp. 299-313. Also available at Details

Online Resources

See also

McCarthy, G.J.