Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page

Sherwood, Francis Webber

by Mary Bates Sherwood, 1994

9 Feb. 1890–13 Feb. 1963

Francis Webber Sherwood, agricultural scientist and college professor, was born in Raleigh, the son of Francis Webber and Mary Bates Sherwood. His ancestors can be traced to the Mayflower (John Howland) and to the Bates family of Virginia. His mother was a teacher and principal in the Raleigh public schools for nearly half a century. Sherwood-Bates elementary school was named for her and for her sister, Grace Bates.

Young Sherwood attended the Raleigh public schools and North Carolina State College (now North Carolina State University), where he received a B.S. degree in chemistry in 1909 and an M.S. degree in 1911. In the meantime he had already begun his career as an analytic chemist at the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station. He began doctoral work at Cornell University but was forced to drop out for financial reasons and take a job as a research chemist with the Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Corporation during 1916–17 and with the DuPont Chemical Corporation in 1919. During World War I he worked for the Chemical Warfare Service of the U.S. Army. Sherwood returned to State College as a research professor in 1919 and was able to complete his work at Cornell, receiving the Ph.D. degree in 1921. He remained at North Carolina State College until his retirement in 1956, when he became professor emeritus in animal nutrition.

Sherwood was identified with several phases of southern life: agriculture, through his contribution to basic knowledge in feeding cattle and swine; economy, through the increase in profitable production of better livestock through improved feeding practices; and education, through his years of inspiration at State College. He made research contributions on practically every agricultural product of economic importance to the South. Sherwood was one of the earliest biochemists in the nation to use statistical experiment design in his work. He was known especially for his nutritional research on cottonseed meal as animal feed, peanut feeding in pork production, and the relationship between soil fertility and the nutritive value of forage. He published numerous papers in scientific and technical journals.

In recognition of his service to the profession of chemistry in the South, he received the fourth Southern Chemist Award of the American Chemical Society in 1953. He was a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a life member of the Academy of Science in North Carolina, chairman of the North Carolina section of the American Chemical Society and a member of the society for over fifty years, and a member of Sigma Xi, Gamma Alpha, and Alpha Chi Sigma fraternities. He was president of the Raleigh Natural History Club and a member of the Raleigh Executive Club. Sherwood, a Democrat, served as deacon and treasurer of the First Presbyterian Church.

In 1918 he married Amelia Tate Stockard, the daughter of Lula Tate and Henry Jerome Stockard. The couple had two children, Mary Bates and Francis Webber, Jr. Sherwood died in Raleigh and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. There is a portrait of him in Polk Hall on the North Carolina State University campus.


American Men of Science, vol. 30 (1961).

Chemical and Engineering News 31 (14 Dec. 1953).

Extension Farm News 39 (December 1953 [portrait]).

Greensboro Daily News, 4 Dec. 1953.

William S. Powell, ed., North Carolina Lives (1962).

Raleigh News and Observer, 30 Nov. 1953, 14 Feb. 1963.

Southern Chemist 13 (December 1953).