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College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 26

Scope and Contents

The College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, Records (1890-2010; 27.4 cubic feet) documents the history, administration, and activities of agricultural extension work carried out by Purdue University’s College of Agriculture.  The collection includes correspondence (1910s-1950s), financial records (1900s-1930s), letter books (1890s-1900s), reports (1910s-1950s, 1970s), and director, county agent, and Boys’ and Girls’ (4-H) Club materials (1910s-1950s).


  • 1890 - 2010
  • Other: Date acquired: 03/08/2008

Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Some material in this collection are in the public domain, while other material copyrights are held by Purdue University. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Historical Information

In cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.), the Cooperative Extension Service is a network of colleges and universities that provide scientific research-based information and education.  Purdue Extension does this through four program areas: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Health and Human Sciences, Economic and Community Development, and 4-H Youth.  Today, Extension work is carried out in all 92 Indiana counties by various educators, specialists, and volunteers. Outreach was an important strategy Professor William Carroll Latta used to get the support of Indiana farms in regard to the university’s mission and to increase undergraduate enrollment.  Latta was one of the first professors appointed in the College of Agriculture and served in various capacities within the college from his appointment in 1882 to his death in 1935.  Outreach was first done through special bulletins (published by Purdue University and mailed to famers), press releases highlighting the work of Purdue researchers, and through personal appearances and presentations by the university’s faculty. The first extension activity in Indiana was authorized by the Farmers’ Institute Act, passed by the state legislature in 1889.  The same act gave Purdue the responsibility of managing the Famers’ Institutes, which emerged in the Midwest in the 1860s and were present in 26 states during the 1880s.  Latta played an important role in the growth of the Institutes in Indiana, establishing at least one in each of the state’s counties between 1889 and 1895.  Extension historians Frederick Whitford and Andrew G. Martin called the Farmers’ Institutes “one of the most successful university outreach programs ever developed in Indiana” that “helped Purdue University establish firm ties to the state’s rural communities.” In 1911, the Farmers’ Institute became a unit within the new Department of Agricultural Extension.  The first county agent was employed the following year.  Passed by Congress in 1914, the Smith-Lever Act increased federal funding for extension work and broadened its scope of that work at American universities, and especially Land-Grant schools like Purdue.  By the passed of the Smith-Lever Act, 27 county agents were already employed by Purdue in extension work.

Note written by John Michael Foster


27.40 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The Records are organized into single series largely arranged chronologically by material type.

Physical Access Requirements

Some materials, such as the Farmers’ Institute letter books, are fragile and need to be handled with care.

Custodial History

Chris Sigurdson, Agricultural Communication, to ASC; College of Agriculture to ASC

Source of Acquisition

Purdue University records transfer by Chris Sigurdson, Agricultural Communication; College of Agriculture on March 08, 2008.

Related Publications

Whitford, Frederick, and Andrew G. Martin. The Grand Old Man of Purdue University and Indiana Agriculture: A Biography of William Carroll Latta. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 2005.

Processing Information

All materials are housed in acid-free manuscript boxes.  Some materials have been placed in acid-free folders.  Others remain in their original folders.  Collection identifier updated from UA 14.13 to UA 26 as of November 17, 2015.
College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service records
In Progress
John Michael Foster
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Second edition.

Revision Statements

  • 2020-05-05: Collection description updated by Adelle Rogers.
  • 2023-12-13: Accession 2024-085 added by William Niner.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States