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Letter/label or iconHE years from about 1909 to 1923 were the crowning years in the history of the College of Agriculture. Could Professor Thompson, the first professor of agriculture, and those early residents of the state who wagged their heads at agricultural education have stepped into the farm campus in 1923, Professor Thompson would have found his most sanguine dreams more than realized, while those who scoffed perhaps would have remained to learn. They would have found nine great buildings devoted exclusively to experimentation and instruction, among them the finest agricultural engineering building in the world, a dairy building famous thruout the West, and the best equipped animal pathology plant in the Mississippi Valley. Instead of an unattractive farmstead of the seventies they would have found a magnificent campus laid out with trees and flower beds, a paved street running alongside the farm, and street cars to the door of the institution. Instead of ten or fifteen students studying agriculture, they would have found some one thousand students, men and women, about half of them enrolled in a practical high school course emphasizing agriculture and home economics and the other half enrolled in a regular college course. They would have found some seventy members of the college faculty, and nearly as many more connected with other branches of college activity, a great state-wide Agricultural Extension Service reaching every corner of the state with its force of county agents and extension specialists, three experimental substations in western Nebraska, a school of agriculture at Curtis, Neb., and a fruit farm near Union.

   If the preceding period, dating from about 1890 to 1909, was the period in which agriculture came into its own, this was the period in which the Agricultural College came into




its own. The first big thing that happened during these years was the action of the Legislature in 1909 in dividing the Industrial College into a College of Engineering and a College of Agriculture. Once more the College of Agriculture was a unit by itself. The next big thing was the provision of the Legislature in the same year for two additional substations to be maintained in connection with the College of Agriculture. One of these was located at Valentine, and the other near Mitchell. With the substation at North Platte, this now made three substations under the control of the University. Then, in 1911, came provision for the school of agriculture in western Nebraska, located at Curtis.

   The Agricultural Extension Service, as it is known today, really had its birth in this period. It was an outgrowth of the farmers' institute, and soon, thanks to the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, providing federal aid, became one of the most important lines of college activity, ranking in importance with the experiment station. Legislation providing for county aid for agricultural agents, or farm demonstrators, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature in 1913, and the first county agents in Nebraska began to be appointed about this time. The development of this extension work, along with that of the experimental substations, will be left for later discussion.

   But the thing that made the most difference in the actual appearance and development of the material side of the institution goes back to an agitation which had been going on for a number of years to have the main University on the uptown campus moved out to the Agricultural College, or else to have additional land purchased uptown. Briefly, the University needed more room, both for immediate and for future needs. The attendance in all the schools and colleges of the University had increased to 3,992 (unrepeated names) in 1909-10. In this connection it is interesting to note that by 1915-16 the attendance had increased to 4,826, notwithstanding that a few years before the roster




had been pared by removing the names of students in an affiliated school of music, as well as those taking University extension work without credit. In 1923-24 the total registration had grown to 10,352 in all schools and colleges. Here was vindication for those who had anticipated the future by urging a definite policy of developing the institution.

   So in the early years of this period there was constant debate and discussion as to the location of the University, whether it should remain uptown or be moved out to the Agricultural College. The Legislature in 1913, however, decided to refer the matter of location to the people of the state. At the same time it made the important provision that there be a special University extension fund, consisting of the proceeds of a tax of three-fourths of a mill on the dollar valuation of the grand assessment roll of the state, to be levied in 1913 and annually thereafter for six years to and including the year 1918. If the people of the state voted that the main part of the University should stay where it was, one-third of the money realized from the tax was to be available for the purpose of erecting buildings on the farm campus and two-thirds of the money was to be available for development on the city campus of the University.

   The people at the general election in 1914 voted to keep the University downtown and so the College of Agriculture came into possession of one-third of the special levy. This special levy was extended in 1919 for another two years. In the latter years, owing to the sudden demands on the University in the way of increased expenses, incident to the War; and, the subsequent boom, some of the money was used, by authorization of the Legislature, for maintenance and salaries. The building program at the Agricultural College prospered greatly during these years. The plant industry building was erected in 1912 and 1913 at a cost of approximately $87,000. It now houses the departments of horticulture, entomology, the work in botany




and plant pathology, and part of the department of agronomy. The new dairy building was erected in 1916-17 at a cost of $175,000. The agricultural engineering building came next, in 1918, at a cost of $195,000. Finally came the group of buildings for animal pathology in 1919-20, erected at a cost of about $133,000. Of course one might also include in the work of this period the hog cholera serum laboratory, erected in 1911-12, and the horse barn and the new boiler house in 1915-16.

   It must be remembered that the World War came in the later years of this period. To the University this meant many things. Students began to withdraw to enter training camps and to enlist in the Army and Navy. Soon there came an insistent demand for greater food production and the College of Agriculture, thru its extension service, found itself charged with carrying on the work in food production and food conservation. County agents, supported by government aid, were placed in nearly all important farming counties of the state.

   Those who had been compelled to take military drill during two years of their college course now found that instruction of practical benefit. The service flag of the College of Agriculture, embracing both school and college, carried 550 stars, representing students, members of the faculty, and alumni serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Red Cross. General John J. Pershing, who, had served in the early nineties as commandant at the University, was placed in charge of the American Expeditionary Forces. Chancellor Samuel Avery of the University became a major in the Chemical Warfare Service. Prof. L. W. Chase of the department of agricultural engineering became a major in the Ordnance Department. Dean E. A. Burnett of the college was called to Europe early in 1919 for service in the Army Overseas Educational Commission at Beaune University. The University of Nebraska stood fourth among all universities in percentage of enlistments among the student body.




   A sad feature naturally was the number of young men who gave their lives in defense of their country. Those known to have died in service included:

Roy B. Berryman, Ex-'21

Central City

Frank Colcord, Faculty

Earl Forbes, B.Sc. '18


Harold Kelley, Ex-'18


Edward H. Larson, Ex-'20


Taylor E. Lewis, Ex-'19


Ivanhoe K. Metz, B.Sc. '17

Quakertown, Pa.

Ralph F. Perso, Ex-'20


Marvin Race, Ex-'22

Indianapolis, Ind.

Frank B. Sloan, Ex-'15


Edward W. Stirk, Ex-'22


Harvey E. Vasey, B.Sc. '13

Fort Collins, Colo.

Floyd Wambeam, Faculty

Charles R. Wright, Ex-'19



Walter Hager


Thomas Benham, '14


Bryan Berryhill, '15


Norris Burford, Ex-'19


Reuben Larson, Ex-'19


Arthur Moseman, '16


W. O. Schoenbeck, '10


August Sudbeck, '15


Dean C. Walker, '14


Raymond White, Ex-'17


Lemuel Wilcox, '14


Robert Williams, '10

University Place

   The first effect of the War on the University and college was a decrease in attendance. But soon the University, at the request of the government, began to train hundreds of men in vocational work and in the Students' Army Training Corps. Barracks were erected at the Agricultural College and practical courses were given there in tractors, wheelwrighting, and automobiles.

   A reflection of this war work is to be found even now, in 1923, in the University's Trades School and in the num-




ber of veterans taking vocational training. The Legislature of 1921 appropriated $75,000 which went to equipping the shops for the trades school. The government paid the tuition of the men taking the work, besides giving them regular compensation for living expenses. The Trades School has been in charge of Prof. E. E. Brackett, who for several years has been connected with the department of agricultural engineering.

   The Trades School offered instruction in printing, mechanical dentistry, practical machine shop work, plumbing, electrical work, poultry husbandry, automobile mechanics, and cabinet making. Only the courses in poultry husbandry, automobile mechanics, and cabinet making were offered at the agricultural campus. In July, 1922, there were eight men taking automobile mechanics, ten cabinet making, and thirty-eight poultry raising. In all the courses taken together, including those given on the city campus, there were then over one hundred men enrolled. The total enrollment at one time reached more than 135.

   With the division of the Industrial College into a College of Engineering and a College of Agriculture in 1909, Dean E. A. Burnett, who had been associate dean of the Industrial College in charge of agriculture, became dean of the College of Agriculture. Dr. Samuel Avery was acting chancellor of the University in 1908-09 and became chancellor on May 20, 1909. Both Chancellor Avery and Dean Burnett have remained with the University and it has been largely due to their efforts that the Agricultural College has developed to its present strength.


   During the few years following the establishment of the College of Agriculture as a unit by itself, enrollment in the agricultural courses picked up rapidly. In two years the college enrollment doubled and in four years it tripled. In 1909-10 there were only 116 men and 49 women enrolled;




in 1911-12 there were 208 men and 124 women; in 1913-14 there were 267 men and 201 women. By 1916-17 the enrollment reached its peak, in that school year 310 men and 282 women, or 592 all told, being registered in the College of Agriculture. Home economics was showing a splendid development, the great increase in number of women, from 49 in 1909-10 to 280 in 1916-17, being evidence of the increasing popularity of that subject. These figures of course did not include the enrollment in the School of Agriculture.

   The World War caused many students to drop their studies in order to enlist, while others were obliged to stay home and help with the crops. The total attendance in the college dropped from 592 in 1916-17 to 474 in 1917-18. There were 447 enrolled in 1918-19, 542 in 1919-20, 488 in 1920-21, 507 in 1921-22, 558 in 1922-23, and 565 in 1923-24. The falling off in 1920-21 was undoubtedly due to the money stringency prevailing on Nebraska farms.

   The faculty had grown as much in these years as the student body. There were approximately fifty persons listed on the roster of the faculty of the College of Agriculture in the catalog published in 1910. By 1923 this number had grown to approximately 115. Of course it must be understood that in both cases the names of members of the school faculty, experimental workers, and others who were not engaged in teaching in the college are included, but these figures serve well for comparison. About seventy of those listed in the catalog for 1923 engaged in actual teaching of agricultural and home economics subjects in the college.

   Under the reorganization of the College of Agriculture in 1909 there were three groups of courses offered. There was one group in agriculture, one group in home economics, and one group in forestry. Forestry, until the work was abolished in 1915, was recognized as one of the departments of the College of Agriculture, altho most of the instructional work was given on the city campus. In the catalog




published in 1913 there was announced for the first time an agricultural practice group. The other agricultural group was now known as the agricultural science group. The practice group aimed to meet "the needs of those students who come to the college for one or two years with expectation of returning to the farm at the expiration of that time and who wish to get a large amount of agriculture in the early part of the course." Four years' work was outlined in the practice group, however, perhaps with the idea that those deciding to remain in college the entire four years could go right ahead with their work.

   The catalog published in 1915 announced a general agricultural group in place of the agricultural science group, an agricultural practice group, and a home economics group. The forestry group had now disappeared. The practice group was announced as a two-year course. The student who desired to go ahead with the work after two years would be obliged to enter the general agricultural group and complete the science requirements. Agriculture for February, 1915, tells something of these changes:

   "The Agricultural Science Group has been abolished and a General Agricultural Group has been established in its place, in which the two years of the course are prescribed and the last two years are largely elective. The student coming to the Agricultural College next fall will be able to get one-half his subjects in agriculture in the General Agricultural Group, the rest of the time being devoted to the sciences of chemistry, botany, entomology, and zoology and to the English language. In the second year, the sciences which were taken up in the first year will be continued and other agricultural subjects will be substituted until the student has had at least one course in each of the eight principal departments of agriculture in the college.

   "Beginning with his Junior year, the student will select a major subject in which he wishes to become specially proficient and will spend a portion of his time during the next two years in this subject.

   "Beginning next September, the student who wishes to take all of his agricultural course at the University Farm will be able to do so, as the Regents have agreed to offer a sufficient number of academic




courses at the Farm to fill the requirements for graduation. On the other hand, those students who desire may take their general science and their academic studies at the city campus.

   "The Faculty of the College of Agriculture have also reorganized the Agricultural Practice Group to make it cover only two years of time instead of four years as was formerly the case. They have cut out all science requirements in this two-year group, and will permit the student to devote all of his time to the study of agricultural subjects. Upon the completion of the work offered, a certificate of proficiency in farm practice will be given to those students who have come from the farm and are experienced in practical farm work. Students coming from the city can secure this certificate only upon completion of a specified amount of practice on farms.

   "It is expected that the two-year Agricultural Practice Group will make it unnecessary for any student with four years of high school credit to enter the School of Agriculture in order to secure the largest amount of agriculture in the shortest possible time. This group is sure to meet the needs of a large number of young men who have not previously entered the College of Agriculture because of the time which would have been required in the study of other subjects before taking up agricultural work."

   In the catalog published in 1920 a two-year group in cooperative business was announced. This group is especially for mature men who wish training in the management of co-operative enterprises but who can spend only two years in college. It embraces a large amount of work in rural economics.

   The catalog for 1921 announced a reorganization of the agricultural courses. Each student today is obliged to elect a certain group of studies, in most cases beginning with the second year. There is now one group in vocational education, one group in animal husbandry, one group in dairy husbandry, one group in farm mechanics, one group in plant industry, one group in rural economics, and one group in poultry husbandry. The work in all the courses is the same for the first year, thereby giving a student a year in which to pick out his subject of major interest. This first year embraces botany, chemistry, English, animal husbandry, agricultural engineering, horticulture, dairy husbandry, and military science, giving the young




man a fairly broad outlook before he begins to specialize. The two-year agricultural practice course and the two-year course in co-operative business are still offered, but have never attracted many students.

   The work in home economics was also subdivided in the same way as the work in agriculture. There is now one group known as the basic curriculum for professional home economics, another group specializing in home economics education, another group in institutional management, and still another group for those young women who expect to go into agricultural extension work. In 1922 a two-year course in home economics was announced. At the completion of this course, the student is recommended to the State Department of Public Instruction for a certificate entitling the holder to teach home economics in the grades and junior high schools. The department of home economics now maintains a practice house where students live and receive practical instruction in keeping up a home during part of their school course.

   At the time of the reorganization of the Industrial College in 1909, most of the agricultural departments had already been established in the preceding years and now it was only necessary to go ahead and develop the work under way. It will be recalled that in 1909 the department of agronomy and farm management was created, which included all the work given in crops, soils and farm management. But in 1911 it was reorganized. Prof. C. W. Pugsley took charge of the work in agricultural extension and also retained charge of the work in farm management. How this was worked out is made plain in the catalog published in 1912. There was agronomy, now listed by itself, with a division or section known as experimental agronomy, and a department of farm management. The course known as agricultural economics which had been given originally by Professor Davisson of the School of Agriculture under the general head of agricultural education had now disappeared. Prof. P. B. Barker was now the ranking professor




in the general work in agronomy. Prof. E. G. Montgomery resigned from the work in experimental agronomy in January, 1912, to take a position at Cornell University, and Prof. T. A. Kiesselbach succeeded him. The department of farm management was carried on by Prof. C. W. Pugsley and Prof. H. C. Filley, who in 1914 became head of the department. It is unnecessary to discuss here the work in agricultural extension carried on by Mr. Pugsley, for that is taken up at length elsewhere. In 1916 Prof. W. W. Burr became head of the department of agronomy. Mr. Burr had had wide experience in carrying on farming experiments for the United States Department of Agriculture in the Great Plains states. Farm management appeared for the first time as rural economics in the catalog published in 1919. The work had now begun to broaden out with courses in rural sociology as well as in farm organization, farm accounting, marketing, and rural economics. Professor Filley has remained in charge of this department to the present day.

   Poultry husbandry was one of the new lines of work taken up in these later years. Practically every farm raised some chickens, but heretofore there had been little emphasis placed on the scientific aspects of the subject. The first courses in poultry husbandry were listed in the catalog published in 1916. There were just four courses, including elementary poultry management (two courses), poultry practice, and incubation and brooding, all of them listed under animal husbandry. They were given by Prof. M. E. Dickson who had joined the faculty of the college in 1915. Prof. F. E. Mussehl became professor of poultry husbandry in 1917, succeeding Professor Dickson. Poultry husbandry was listed for the first time as a separate department in the catalog published in 1922.

   Agricultural education, or the preparation of young men and women to teach agriculture and home economics in the high schools of the state, had received some attention for several years as a collegiate course. It will be recalled that




such a course had been given by Professor Davisson of the School of Agriculture. This course was continued by his successors, Prof. Fred M. Hunter and Prof. H. E. Bradford. An impetus was given to this work in 1913, when the Legislature passed the Shumway Act providing state aid for high schools teaching agriculture, manual training, and home economics. But the great incentive came when Congress in 1917 passed the Smith-Hughes Act, providing federal aid.

   In the catalog published in 1918, two courses in agricultural education were offered, one the history of vocational education, and the other agricultural education. The next year there were four courses, vocational education, organization and administration of agricultural education, method of agricultural teaching, and supervised teaching. In 1920 the work was known as agricultural and home economics education, instruction in teaching home economics having been added. By 1922 the work in this department had grown to eleven courses. In 1922 the name of the department was changed to vocational education.

   The department of forestry which had been under the College of Agriculture since its reorganization in 1909 was abolished in 1915. Nebraska had no virgin forests of consequence and there were not the same opportunities for development as prevailed in states like Colorado. Prof. W. J. Morrill, who had succeeded Prof. F. J. Phillips after his death in 1911, had received a call to the Colorado Agricultural College. It must not be thought that this department did not serve a useful purpose in Nebraska. The fact that Nebraska was a treeless state gave this department a fruitful opportunity to urge the planting of trees in the western part of the state, but in deciding to stress those lines of agriculture of greater commercial importance to Nebraska, the education of trained foresters was left to other states.

   It is hardly possible to enumerate all the changes that took place during these years, either in the departments or





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