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Identifier: R-MC 123

John K. Medoff Papers


  • 1911-2005, bulk 1940-1999

Scope and Content Note

The papers of John K. Medoff include both his personal and professional records. They range in date from 1935 through 2002; however, the majority of the records are from 1940 through 1999. The Medoff family donated the records to the University Archives in the summer of 2010.

The records in this collection include a great deal of correspondence. Most of the recipients and senders were professors at the College of Agriculture/Cook College. Some of the correspondence is between Medoff and other members of the Board of Managers. Other correspondence is between Medoff and fellow National and New Jersey Pest Control Association members. Still, most correspondence remains from between Medoff and other individuals and organizations with which he was affiliated.

There are a wide variety of documents from the National Pest Control Association. The NPCA sent multiple reports and notices to its members from the late 1950s through the late 1980s, many of which are contained in this collection.

Medoff's collection also includes an assortment of brochures, pamphlets, and leaflets distributed by Rutgers University's Extension services and other agencies. Documents pertaining to Rutgers University short courses and other seminars are also present.

Additional items in this collection include stationery from several organizations with which Medoff was affiliated, as well as photographs and press clippings reflecting the multiple facets of Medoff's career and interests. Also included are materials documenting the formation and early operation of the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture. Information on Medoff's Boy Scout activities is also found in this collection as well as several ephemeral pieces, such as convention buttons.

Lastly, there are some early business records of the Hudson Exterminating Company, as well as business correspondence covering a sixty-year period.


8 Record Cartons (8 cubic feet)

Language of Materials



The papers of John K. Medoff document the business, academic, and civic affairs he was involved in throughout his adult life. Medoff began his own pest control business and through it, became highly involved with what became Cook College. Also active in pest control trade organizations, Medoff used his knowledge, savvy, and connections to help influence New Jersey state politicians. Medoff was also very influential in the lives of his neighbors, taking active roles in the local Boy Scouts council, as well as sitting on the boards of several local institutions.

Biographical Sketch

Little is known of John K. Medoff's early years. He was born in or about 1911 in a Russian shtetl. According to Medoff's daughter, Jean St. Germain, he did not often talk about his life growing up in Russia, wishing to avoid unpleasant memories of fear, disease, hunger, and death. In his later years, Medoff would discuss how his father instructed the family how best to hide during a pogrom.

Medoff immigrated to the United States around 1925 with little knowledge of the English language. Growing up in the Bronx, Medoff made great strides, eventually starting his own pest control company, Tremont Exterminating Company, in 1935. The company evolved into Hudson Exterminating Company and moved across the Hudson River into New Jersey, where it remains today.

Medoff married the former Gertrude Sadoff, who herself had immigrated to the United States from Russia along with her parents. Gertrude was her high school's valedictorian and graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a degree in biology. Together, they had three daughters - Nina, Martha, and Jean - as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

As Medoff's business grew, he became more involved in the pest control and agriculture industries. He was a founder and a two-time President of the New Jersey Pest Control Association and was greatly involved in the National Pest Control Association. He developed a relationship with the then-New Jersey College of Agriculture through the creation of short courses designed to assist pest control operators. Eventually, his involvement increased to the point where he became a member of the College of Agriculture's Board of Managers, later serving two terms as President and becoming the first "city man" to do so. His knowledge of pesticides and agriculture was instrumental to his work on state environmental programs. Medoff also sat on the Board of Trustees for the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture.

Nationally, Medoff was at the forefront of the National Pest Control Association, serving the organization through various roles, including as Vice President. He committed himself to expanding his knowledge of pest control and also his professional connections by organizing and attending conferences, courses, and seminars led by professors at Purdue University and the University of Massachusetts.

Though he spent much of his time at Rutgers in New Brunswick and pursuing more knowledge in his field, Medoff never lost sight of helping his fellow citizens in Hudson County. He led the push to create a Cooperative Extension office for Hudson County. Despite being the father of three girls, he was committed to leadership roles in the local and regional Boy Scouts of America councils. Through his civic connections, he helped organize activities for Hudson and Somerset County youth during several Farm-City Week programs. Medoff offered his help and services to all in need and remained active in his own business late into his life. John K. Medoff died in 2005.

Arrangement Note

The majority of John K. Medoff's records arrived in no semblance of order, and many of the folders were unlabeled, mislabeled, vaguely labeled, or simply contained documents not pertaining to the label. Some folders were dated, while many others were not. In addition, there were many loose papers throughout the boxes, often requiring a great amount of decision-making as to their proper location within the collection. The boxes usually contained a mixed array of items: anything from books, brochures, and binders to loose papers and folders to photographs and press clippings.

The records have been re-foldered and arranged in series to reflect common facets and activities of Medoff's career and interests. The folders are arranged alphabetically within each common series. Efforts were made to make sure that chronological order is present in those folders where it would be most necessary and/or logical (e.g. correspondence). Some documents, such as the brochures, leaflets, et al, published by Rutgers University and its Extension Services, are in numerical order, according to the number on the piece. Some folders contain items in which no chronological order can either be discerned or would not necessarily improve the understanding of the materials within.

In those folders where chronological order is in place, the oldest materials are at the front of the file and the most recent at the back.

Oftentimes, John K. Medoff's correspondence would be to or from individuals who were involved in several of the same activities as Medoff. Sometimes the topic of the correspondence might be applicable to multiple series. In these cases, the correspondence was placed within the series deemed most applicable to the topic.

Guide to the Papers of John K. Medoff, 1911-2005 R-MC 123
Edited Full Draft
Matt Rothenberg
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.
Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository

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