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Southern School of Agriculture records

Identifier: ua-00167

Scope and Content

The records of the Southern School of Agriculture (SSA) document the school from its inception in 1953 to its closure in 1973. Historical and administrative documents in addition to records relating to student activities compromise the bulk of the collection.

Administrative materials concerning the school are included in the collection. The purpose of the school is documented in folder 2 and historical documents regarding the school's development are also included (folders 3-4). One letter dated October 29, 1968 discusses the option of discontinuation of the Baccalaureate Service at SSA (folder 81). Many of the activities at the school including student activities (folder 25-45), parents day (folders 90-92), and the leadership conference (folders 83-84) include phase-out suggestions beginning in 1972.

The records also document student activities both at SSA and collaborations with other Agriculture Schools. Student activities are documented from 1953 to 1973 in folders 25-45. Collaborative projects highlighted in the collection include the leadership conference, 1955-1972 (folders 83-84). Originally called the Itasca Leadership Conference, because it was held at Itasca State Park before moving to the Southern School. Participants included 12 students from each of the Schools of Agriculture as well as their superintendents and principals. The purpose was to provide participants with an opportunity to know each of the schools and to formulate plans for furthering education at each school. Other students who had attended in previous years selected students for the Conference. Students who participated also held membership in the Headwaters Club, a school service organization.

The value of Agricultural Schools, such as SSA, is documented in the study of the students during the 1956-1957 school year (folders 14-15). This was the fourth study (the first three were conducted in 1944, 1945, and 1948-1949) and was done to determine the changes that took place in the Agricultural Schools since 1948/1949. Part of the purpose of the 1957 Study was to determine if collegiate programs should be established at any of the Schools of Agriculture. Folder 14 contains correspondence regarding the Study and Recommendations of the Board of Regents. ("A study of the outlying Schools of Agriculture" is a report that was possibly based on the original 1957 study. This can be found in the print collection, MSCC/qA3so.)


  • Creation: 1946-1989


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

The Southern School of Agriculture (SSA), located in Waseca, Minnesota, was established in 1953. Its establishment came about as a result of concern among area legislators, educators and residents about the high drop out rate of rural school age youth in Southern Minnesota and limited interest in formal education at the secondary level.

A 1944 survey of 28 counties, conducted by County Superintendents, found that 23,785 youth between the ages of 16 and 20, as well as 7,951 youth between 16 and 17 years were not attending school. Several reasons were cited for non-attendance:

1) Traditional high schools were not equipped to offer vocational and agricultural training to rural youth.

2) Schools that did offer vocational and agricultural training were not necessarily convenient to area youth.

3) A regular high school curriculum requiring nine months meant that farm youth had to spend too much time in school during active farm months.

4) University Farm in St. Paul, which logically should have served Southern Minnesota, was not attracting students by the 1940's.

These reasons were stated in the Proponent Brief for Establishment of a School of Agriculture at Waseca, "submitted to the Board of Regents by C.W. Spaulding, circa January 1945, is located in the Historical File.

In 1919 the Minnesota State Legislature designated land for an agricultural school in Southern Minnesota. It was to be located at the Southeast Experiment Station that was established in 1912. However, no funding was appropriated to finance establishment of a school until a Bill was introduced to the Legislature in 1947. The Bill was passed on April 24, 1947 in both Houses with $750,000 to be appropriated after July 1, 1949 for the purpose of building a school. In 1949, the Legislature supplemented the appropriation by $338,000 for additional buildings and provided $617,000 for construction of a dormitory. The actual development of the Southern School was influenced by the successful operation of schools of agriculture already established in outstate Minnesota at Crookston, Morris, and Grand Rapids.

The School was opened on January 5, 1953 with an enrollment of 42 students. Its purpose as stated in a 1952 letter to area students was "to train boys for better farm living through wider understanding of crops, livestock and soils, through the development of farm shop skills and crafts and through further understanding the fundamentals of farm management." Girls were admitted to the School for the fall term of 1953. The School operated on a six-month basis between September and March and consisted of two terms. The remainder of the year was devoted to supervised home experiences provided by the Home Experience Program. The Home Experience Program allowed students to apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom, laboratories and shops to the farm and home operation. At least two supervisory visits were made to student's homes to provide a liaison between home and school.

Operation of the School was closely coordinated with the Southern Experiment Station and some of the staff had dual responsibilities in both teaching and research. For these reasons it is sometimes difficult to separate the activities of the two, as is indicated in the records.

A Principal was responsible for the operation of the School and a Superintendent oversaw both the School and the Experiment Station. The following individuals held these positions:

Robert E. Hodgson, Superintendent of the Experiment Station, 1919-1960; Superintendent of the Southern School, 1953-1960.

Bernard E. Youngquist, Principal of the Southern School, 1953-1956; Left to become Superintendent of the School and Experiment Station at Crookston.

Deane A. Turner, Principal of the school, 1956-1960, Superintendent, 1960-1964.

Robert M. Collins, Principal of the School, 1960-1973.

Edward C. Frederick, Superintendent, 1964-1969. (In 1969, Frederick became Director of Waseca Technical College. The title was changed to Provost in 1970.)

In 1967, the Minnesota Legislature requested that the Board of Regents review the program at the Southern School of Agriculture, due to several changes that occurred since the opening of the School in 1953. High school attendance had improved, reflecting a change in attitudes by rural families toward education and awareness of the need for a high school diploma, many rural youth were leaving the farm in response to changes in agriculture and more secondary schools had begun offering programs in vocational agriculture.

In 1969 the Minnesota State Legislature passed a Bill providing that the Southern School of Agriculture be phased out. A two-year technical college was to be established and scheduled to start in 1971. For two years, programs of both the School of Agriculture and Technical College ran concurrently until the last class of students graduated from the Southern School of Agriculture in 1973. After the closing of the Southern School, many of the activities and events that occurred during its operation continued with the Technical College. For further information, consult the Recurring Events files in the records of the Waseca Technical College.


7.5 Cubic Feet (6 boxes)


The collection contains correspondence, reports, notes, minutes, publications, and agendas that document the administrative and student activities of the Southern School of Agriculture.


The papers are arranged into the following seven categories:

  1. Historical
  2. Annual Reports
  3. Student Activities
  4. Alphabetical Files
  5. Agricultural Experiment Station
  6. Legislature
  7. Personnel Files
  8. Publications

Folders on Civil Service employees have been discarded. State Employee Retirement Association (SERA) information found in the personal files has been sent to the Employee Benefits Department.

Source of acquisition

Collection was transferred to University of Minnesota Archives from 1976 to 1983.

Related Materials in University of Minnesota Archives

Fred B. Snyder papers

Robert E. Hodgson papers

Division of Entomology and Economic Zoology. Entomology records

Division of Entomology and Economic Zoology. Beekeeping records

Southeast Demonstration Farm and Experiment Station. Waseca records

Waseca Technical College records

Southern School of Agriculture records, 1946-1989
Archives Staff; updated by Karen Spilman
Updated May 2004
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