This section is from the book "Scientific American Reference Book. A Manual for the Office, Household and Shop", by Albert A. Hopkins, A. Russell Bond. Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
These investigations have for their objects the study of diseases of agricultural crops and economic plants, nutrition of plants, rotation of crops, and the general application of the principles of pathology and physiology to agriculture, the problems of crop improvement, and the production of better varieties of agricultural plants and of crops resistant to disease by means of breeding and selection.
This office investigates botanical problems, including the purity and value of seeds; methods of controlling the spread of weeds and preventing their introduction into this country; the injurious effects and antidotes in the case of poisonous plants; the native plant resources of the country, and other phases of economic botany.
This office studies the natural history, geographical distribution, and uses of grasses and forage plants, as well as their adaptation to special soils and climates; introduces promising foreign varieties, and investigates the methods of cultivation of native and foreign sorts.
This branch of the Bureau collects and distributes information in regard to the fruit interests of the United States; investigates the habits and peculiar qualities of fruits; their adaptability to various soils and climates, and conditions of culture. It studies the methods of harvesting, handling, and storing fruits, with a view to improving our own markets and extending them into foreign countries.
This branch is charged with the care and ornamentation of the parks surrounding the Department buildings; with the duties connected with the conservatories and gardens, and with the testing and propagating of economic plants. It carries on investigations for the purpose of determining the best methods of improving the culture of plants under glass, and other lines of investigation connected with intensive horticulture.
This office is charged with the purchase and distribution of valuable seed. The seeds are distributed in allotments to Senators, Representatives, Delegates in Congress, and the agricultural experiment stations, and also by the Secretary of Agriculture, as provided for by the law.
This work has for its object the securing from all parts of the world of seeds and plants of new and valuable agricultural crops adapted to different parts of the United States.
The experiment farm is designed ultimately to become an adjunct to all branches of the Department. It will carry on investigations in the testing of agricultural crops, fruits, and vegetables.
This branch of the Bureau has for its object the study of tea with a view to producing it in this country. Experiments are conducted in tea culture, and methods of growing, curing, and handling the tea are being worked out. The work is carried on at Summerville, S. C, and at Pierce, Texas.
The Bureau of Soils has for its object the investigation of soils in their relation to crops, the mapping of soils, the investigation, mapping, and reclamation of alkali lands, and investigations of the growth, curing, and fermentation of tobacco.
The Office of Public-Road Inquiries collects information concerning the systems of road management throughout the United States, conducts and promotes investigations and experiments regarding the best methods of road making and road-making materials, and prepares publications on this subject.
The division of publications edits all publications of the Department, including Farmers' Bulletins and other agricultural reports ordered printed by the Congress, with the exception of those issued by the Weather Bureau. It supervises all printing, binding, and illustration work of the Department. It directs the distribution of publications with the exception of those turned over by law to the Superintendent of Documents for sale at the price fixed by him; issues, in the form of press notices, official information of interest to agriculturists, and distributes to agricultural and other periodicals and writers synopses of Department publications.
The Postmaster-General has the direction and management of the Post-office Department. He appoints all officers and employees of the Department, except the four Assistant Postmasters-General, who are appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate; appoints all postmasters whose compensation does not exceed $1,000; makes postal treaties with foreign Governments, by and with the advice and consent of the President, awards and executes contracts, and directs the management of the domestic and foreign mail service.
The Secretary of the Navy performs such duties as the President of the United States, who is Commander in Chief, may assign him, and has the general superintendence of construction, manning, armament, equipment, and employment of vessels of war.
The duties of the Bureau of Navigation comprise all that relates to the promulgation, record, and enforcement of the Secretary's orders to the fleets and to the officers of the Navy, except such orders as pertain to the Office of the Secretary; the education of officers and men, including the Naval Academy and technical schools for officers (except the War College and Torpedo School), the apprentice establishment, and schools for the technical education of enlisted men, and to the supervision and control of the Naval Home, Philadelphia; the enlistment and discharge of all enlisted persons, including appointed petty officers for general and special service. It controls all rendezvous and receiving ships, and provides transportation for all enlisted persons and appointed petty officers; establishes the complement of the crews of all vessels in commission; keeps the records of service of all squadrons, ships, officers, and men, and prepares the annual Naval Register for publication; has under its direction the preparation, revision, and enforcement of all tactics, drill books, signal codes, cipher codes, and the uniform regulations.