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Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics records

Identifier: ua-00032

Scope and Content

The collection contains studies and reports, correspondence, ledgers, minutes, surveys and data collection schedules from 1914 to 1984. The collection is divided into three series:

Series 1, Farm Labor, consists of data reported by farmers living and working in several different counties in Minnesota. Tally forms are arranged by location and date, and contain information about different types of daily farm-related activities individual farmers engaged in. Data includes type of activity and the amount of time spent on the activity. Many include information supplied by other household members, including women, children and hired help. Daily tallies for selected farms in Pine, Stevens, Rock, Nobles, Steele, and Winona counties are included in this series. Summary sheets are ledger size, and include extensive information not only about farm activities on selected farms but also crop planting and harvesting; seed procurement; poultry and livestock husbandry; acreage owned, farmed and fallow; building and machinery ownership and maintenance; woodlot maintenance; fuel sources and other activities. Several summaries are identified as County Farm Management Routes. These routes were created by Andrew Boss and Willet Hays in 1906 in an attempt to systematically identify elements of farming practice and the costs of making farm products in a given area. Information in the farm management routes and summary sheets is generally similar, but may vary slightly from farm to farm. The date range for materials in the series is 1914-1955.

Series 2, Agricultural Studies, consists primarily of data, tabulations and some analysis from agricultural studies conducted by department members between 1904 and 1964. Subject matter includes production and distribution of dairy products and livestock; land ownership and leasing related to production; farm finance; cooperative activities in Minnesota, including retail coops, grain elevator and dairy and oil cooperative management practices; Minnesota and world price indexes; trucking and transportation studies during the run-up to WWII; and changes in hog butchering practices resulting in changes in pricing and consumer demand for pork products. A limited amount of documentation focuses on geographical areas other than Minnesota.

Series 3, Publications, contains an incomplete series of Farm Records and Account Books. The first edition of these record books, Farm Records and Accounts was authored by Andrew Boss and F.W. Peck to aid with record keeping for farms included in the farm management routes. Publication dates range from 1914 to 1984.


  • 1904-1984
  • Majority of material found within ( 1925-1960)


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note

Farm economics first appeared as a collegiate-level course in the University’s College of Agriculture 1896-1897 Catalogue. The 1898-1899 College of Agriculture Catalogue listed farm economics under the Agriculture Course of Study with the following description, “Farm management, rotation, weeds, labor, prices, purchases and sales, farm finances, the permanent farm investment, agricultural pedagogics.” Farm economics does not appear in later catalogues, but agricultural economics appeared under the Agriculture Course of Study in the College of Agriculture 1905-1906 Catalogue.

The December 14, 1911, University Board of Regents meeting minutes noted, “On the recommendation of the President it was voted to establish in the Department of Agriculture a Research Bureau in Agricultural Economics and to appoint as director of this Bureau, beginning February 1, 1912, Assistant Professor C.W. Thompson.” The 1911-1912 President’s Report explained that the Bureau would “undertake special studies and issue reports concerning the marketing of different commodities” and study marketing problems, credit for farmers, land titles, and related issues in the Minnesota agricultural community.

The Research Bureau in Agricultural Economics also was referred to as the Division of Research in Agricultural Economics in University publications of the time.

During the 1910s, courses in Agricultural Economics were taught either through the College of Agriculture or the College of Science, Literature and the Arts. The seminars and other courses encompassed the fundamentals of economics as they were applied to agricultural management with special attention to questions concerning prices, credit, and land tenancy.

At their June 17, 1920, meeting, the Board of Regents voted to change the name of the Division of Research in Agricultural Economics to the Division of Agricultural Economics. The change was made on the recommendation of the Dean of the Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Economics courses in the 1920s included agricultural statistics, farm finance, marketing of farm products, economics of consumption, and land tenure.

Agricultural Economics underwent two names changes between 1928 and 1930, both approved by the Board of Regents. At the Regents April 5, 1928, meeting, they “voted to authorize the reorganization of the Division of Agricultural Economics and the Division of Farm Management, Agronomy and Plant Genetics to the Division of Farm Management and Agricultural Economics and the Division of Agronomy and Plant Genetics.” At their April 25-26, 1930, meeting, the Regents voted to change the name of Department of Farm Management and Agricultural Economics to the Department of Agricultural Economics.

The 1928-1930 President’s Report listed a sample of research projects in the Division of Agricultural Economics, including studies in the cost of producing farm products, prices of farm products, marketing of farm products, taxation affecting agriculture, land valuation, and agricultural credit.

During subsequent decades, students in Agricultural Economics had opportunities to specialize in fields such as farm management, marketing, agricultural prices, and farm finance.

In July 1970, the Department of Agricultural Economics became the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. A major in Agricultural and Applied Economics was described as suited to students “who plan to work in areas of agricultural production or processing where a rather extensive knowledge of the technical phases of the work is involved.”

In the 1990s, the Department saw a continuation of a trend started in the 1960s, namely a diversification into subject matter areas not part of traditional agricultural economics. In the research area, work was expanded in the fields of consumer and consumption economics, economics of tourism and recreation, and environmental economics.

At their May 11, 1995, meeting, the Board of Regents Educational Planning and Policy Committee proposed approval of a name change from the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics to the Department of Applied Economics. According to the meeting minutes, one regent raised concerns from the community that the place of the College of Agriculture was being diminished by the proposed name change while another regent responded that the Dean of the College of Agriculture consulted extensively on this issue and the change put into context the work being done in the department. At their May 12, 1995, meeting, the Board of Regents voted to approve the name change recommendation.

The Department of Applied Economics organized its teaching, research, and outreach programs in four broad areas: environmental and resource economics; food systems; growth, development, and trade; and public sector economics.

Department and Division Names
  1. Research Bureau in Agricultural Economics, 1912-1920
  2. Agricultural Economics, 1920-1928
  3. Farm Management and Agricultural Economics, 1928-1930
  4. Agricultural Economics, 1930-1970
  5. Agricultural and Applied Economics, 1970-1995
  6. Applied Economics, 1995-current
Department and Division Heads
  1. Carl W. Thompson, Director, 1912-1913
  2. L.D.H. Weld, Director, 1913-1915
  3. E. Dana Durand, Director, 1915-1917
  4. W.W. Cumberland, Director, 1917-1918
  5. John D. Black, Acting Chief and Chief, 1918-1927
  6. Oscar B. Jesness, Chief, 1928-1957
  7. Sherwood O. Berg, Head, 1957-1963
  8. Elmer W. Learn, Head, 1963-1964
  9. Vernon W. Ruttan, Head, 1965-1970
  10. Wesley B. Sundquist, Head, 1971-1979
  11. G. Edward Schuh, Head, 1979-1984
  12. Wesley B. Sundquist, Acting Head, 1984-1985
  13. Michael Boehlje, Head, 1985-1990
  14. James P. Houck, Acting Head and Head, 1990-1998
  15. Vernon R. Eidman, Head, 1998-2004


112.55 Cubic Feet (128 (69 record cartons; 1 hollinger; 58 oversize))


Collection contains the administrative records of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota.

Source of acquisition

The collection was deposited in University Archives in 1975 and 1994.

Processing Information

This collection was processed with funds provided by the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Historical Society from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics records, 1904-1984
Karen Spilman
May 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area