F. D. Hole Wisconsin Soils Study and Expedition Fund

Francis D. Hole (1913 – 2002) was a geography and soil science professor at UW Madison from 1946 until 1983. He published widely and co-wrote a standard textbook, “Soil Genesis and Classification” and a seminal book on the soils of Wisconsin. He received the university’s distinguished teaching award in 1974. In 1983, he led a grassroots campaign to have Antigo silt loam named Wisconsin’s state soil.

francis_d_holeHe retired in June 1983 but remained active in education. As an emeritus professor, he lectured to any interested audience, from preschoolers to academics to retirees, about humanity’s stake in the soil. Professor Hole was one of UW-Madison’s most popular former teachers, and a much sought-after guest lecturer. Professor Hole was a highly original soil scientist that focused his research and teaching on soils in the field and the relationship between soils, landscape and land use. He made great contributions to the understanding of the formation and spatial distribution of the soils in the state of Wisconsin. Professor Hole is deeply respected both nationally and internationally in the soil science community but also in UW-Madison and Wisconsin he was a much beloved person.

Purpose of the endowment

This fund will be used to offer hands-on learning experiences for students participating in soil expeditions, and awarded in the spirit of Professor Hole’s philosophy to “read each landscape for practical purposes or simply for the pleasure of it”. Such experiences are essential to connect students to the land and to teach them deeper appreciation of the soils and its overall benefits for humans. The Endowment is under the patronage and support of Ms. Sarah Hole and Mr. Ben Hole.

To make a gift online, visit http://supportuw.org/giveto/soilsstudy, or you may send a check, payable to UWF – F.D. Hole Fund, to: UW Foundation, U.S. Bank Lockbox, P.O. Box 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807. For more information about making your gift, contact Jodi Wickham at jodi.wickham@supportuw.org or 608-263-2027.

For further information please contact Alfred Hartemink at hartemink@wisc.edu

Francis D. Hole Memorial


On Tuesday, 15 Jan 2002, Francis D. Hole gently slipped away from us, aged 88 years, leaving the world richer for his passage through it. Emeritus professor of soil science and geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he was one of the great American pedologists and one of the greatest teachers of pedologists.

His passion for soil led him to be the premier “ambassador of soils” and, with his spirtual, soulful, and artistic nature, certainly the undisputed poet-laureate-of-soils. We offer the world a few selections from our scrapbook of Francis Hole:

Francis Hole in his own words:

Francis Hole’s monograph, Soils of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976), is now available electronically from the UW Libraries.

Others about Francis Hole:



I remember taking a hike led by Francis Hole during a “Prairies Jubilee” festival held at Goose Pond Sanctuary in Arlington, Wisconsin. We walked down the road a bit, with Dr. Hole in the lead, playing his fiddle and singing songs extolling the glories and mysteries of Soil. Suddenly he stopped playing, halting the march. He had us take off our shoes and socks and step barefooted out onto the prairie soil. “No talking now,” he said. “Just walk quietly through the grasses and contemplate the complex and beautiful, yet unseen, world beneath your feet.” He led on, playing a soft tune on his fiddle. I had a feeling that I was in a wonderful church. –Martha C. Anderson, PhD (Astronomy), Asst. Scientist (Soil Sci.)

We will be pleased to receive and collect written tributes and
vignettes of Francis Hole from his colleagues, his students, and his friends,
to be added to these webpages. Please send them to pwbarak@wisc.edu.