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Penn State University Libraries

Pennsylvania Agricultural Cooperative Extension Records


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Jackie Esposito

Robyn Dyke

(814/865-7931) for additional information.

Penn State was chartered in 1855 as the Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania and renamed the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania in 1862. Its first president, Dr. Evan Pugh, firmly believed that as Pennsylvania's land grant institution, the college must perform scientific investigations in agriculture and communicate this knowledge to the state's farmers. It first distributed research publications and invited farmers to campus to see new innovations in the 1870s. In 1892, it launched the nation's first correspondence courses in agriculture. Between 1900 and 1911 it provided lectures and demonstrations at farmers' institutes in most counties, at Farmers' Week on campus, and through agricultural trains which traveled throughout the Commonwealth.

In 1911 Pennsylvania State College president Edwin E. Sparks requested money from the state legislature to begin a system of county agricultural agents to act as conduits of information between the School of Agriculture and practicing farmers. In 1912, the College funded its own agents in Blair, Butler, Mercer, Montgomery and Washington counties. The following year the legislature provided $18,000 to fund these agents. Only with the passage of the Smith-Lever Act by Congress, which provided $10,000 annually for agricultural and home economics extension in each state and even more funds if states added matching money, did the Pennsylvania General Assembly begin regular appropriations for extension agents.

By 1921 sixty-two of the sixty-seven counties had full-time agents. Pennsylvania was one of only six states that had a centralized extension organization independent of local control. The agents provided technical information from the USDA and the experiment station, supervised experimental plantings, judged at local fairs, organized 4-H youth clubs, publicized their activities in newspapers, and recruited students for Penn State.

The extension service employed specialists in economics, forestry, pesticides, soils, agronomy, family life, and other subjects. They were headquartered on campus and held academic rank as "Extension Professors." They periodically travelled to the counties at the invitation of agents to provide new information or solutions to specific problems. Agents and extension faculty distributed reams of publications from the USDA, and Penn State's agricultural experiment station, extension service, and individual departments in the College of Agriculture.

The bulk of this collection contains the county extension agents' narrative and statistical annual reports of their activities, 1912-1988. Also included in the collection, but available only in the repository, are financial records, 1917-1950; plans of work for the extension service; USDA publications; correspondence; photographs; Neighborhood Youth Corps records, 1965-1970; Extension bulletins; and compiled historical information about the program.

The reports are arranged alphabetically by county, thereunder chronologically.

The actual records are housed and available in the Penn State University Archives, Paterno Library, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa. 16802.

This is an ongoing project. County records will be added as they are scanned.

Counties pending digitization:

Adams, 1917-1983
Allegheny, 1914-1975, 1978-1980
Armstrong, 1917-1965, 1967-1975, 1978-1980
Bedford, 1914-1916, 1920-1965, 1967-1975
Bradford, 1914, 1916-1988
Bucks, 1916-1965, 1967-1982
Butler, 1912-1915, 1921-1965, 1967-1980
Chester, 1913-1965, 1967-1982
Clarion, 1916-1965, 1967-1981
Columbia, 1915-1916, 1921-1965, 1967-1988
Crawford, 1916-1965, 1967-1969, 1971-1981
Cumberland, 1917-1965, 1967-1981
Dauphin, 1917-1965, 1967-1983
Delaware, 1916-1965, 1967-1975, 1979-1982
Elk, 1921-1965, 1967-1983
Erie, 1915-1965, 1967-1981
Fayette, 1915-1965, 1967-1975
Forest, 1920-1965, 1967-1981
Fulton, 1948-1965, 1967-1975
Greene, 1915-1965, 1967-1975, 1978-1980
Indiana, 1917-1965, 1967-1976, 1978-1980
Jefferson, 1916-1965, 1967-1983
McKean, 1916-1965, 1967-1983
Mercer, 1912-1965, 1967-1981
Perry, 1921-1965, 1967-1983
Philadelphia, 1923-1965, 1967-1975, 1979-1982
Schuylkill, 1916-1983
Snyder, 1920-1935
Somerset, 1936-1965, 1967-1985
Sullivan, 1918-1965, 1967-1979, 1981-1983, 1985
Susquehanna, 1916-1983, 1985
Tioga, 1916-1965, 1967-1985
Union, 1919-1965, 1967-1985
Venango, 1916-1960
Warren, 1936-1965, 1967-1981
Washington, 1912-1965, 1967-1976, 1979-1980
Wayne, 1591-1965, 1967-1985
Westmoreland, 1915-1965, 1967-1973
Wyoming, 1917-1965, 1967-1983, 1985