Since the early 20th century, silviculturists have recognized the importance of planting seedlings with desirable attributes, and that these attributes are associated with successful seedling survival and growth after outplanting. Over the ensuing century, concepts on what is meant by a quality seedling have evolved to the point that these assessments now provide value to both the nursery practitioner growing seedlings and the forester planting seedlings. Various seedling quality assessment procedures that measure numerous morphological and physiological plant attributes have been designed and applied. This paper examines the historical development of the discipline of seedling quality, as well as where it is today. It also examines how seedling quality is employed in forest restoration programs and the attributes that are measured to define quality. The intent is to provide readers with an overall perspective on the field of seedling quality and the people who developed this discipline from an idea into an operational reality.