Bristow Adams' diverse career included stints as a writer, editor, artist, teacher, forester and politician. Born in Washington, D. C., November 11, 1875, he attended public schools there and studied at Washington's Corcoran School of Art. Prior to attending college, he was a co-founder and editor of The Pathfinder, a Washington current affairs weekly that eventually became part of the Farm Journal.
In 1900, he graduated from Stanford University with a degree in languages, literature and art. At Stanford, he edited and illustrated student publications and founded the Stanford Chaparral, a campus humor magazine. As an undergraduate, he was an artist on the Bering Sea Fur Seal Commission, illustrating government reports of fur seal investigations.
Early in his career, he was associate editor of Forestry and Irrigation (1902-04), co-founder and managing editor of Washington Life (1903-04) and editor of the American Spector (1905-06). From 1906 to 1914, he worked for the U. S. Forest Service as an editor and forester.
In 1914, Adams became a professor in Cornell's College of Agriculture. He was also the first head of the publications and information services of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics and the agricultural experiment station. During his tenure at Cornell, he taught journalism, drawing and painting.
In 1920, he established the Cornell chapter of Sigma Delta Chi and was later made an honorary national president of the society. He retired from Cornell in 1945 and served as acting mayor of Ithaca from 1948 to 1955. He died in Ithaca on November 19, 1957 at the age of 82.