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West Central School of Agriculture and Experiment Station Records

Identifier: ua-00580

Scope and Content

The collection consists of annual reports, circulars, newsletters, histories, proceedings and yearbooks of the West Central school and experiment station at Morris, MN.


  • Creation: 1915-2003


Language of Materials

Collection materials 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 Board of Regents, at their meeting on October 26, 1909, received a report from a University committee charged with “examining the lands, buildings, and equipment of the Indian School at Morris, which has been accepted by an act of the last legislature, entitled ‘An act accepting the Indian School at Morris, Minnesota, from the United States for an Agricultural School.’”

The President’s Report in the 1911-1912 University Bulletin described the transaction, “The 1909 session of the Minnesota Legislature accepted from the National Government the gift of the property formerly used as an Indian School (in Morris, Minnesota), and appropriated funds for its maintenance as an Agricultural School. The control of the institution was placed under the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota.”

The West Central School of Agriculture opened on October 3, 1910, on the Morris campus with 103 students and the stated purpose of “training of young men and women for the profession of farming. The courses are planned and the subjects are taught with the purpose of making the students masters of this work. The courses are sufficiently extended to give, not only a fairly complete technical equipment in the business of production, but a working basis in the economic and sociologic aspects of farm life” (1912-1913 Bulletin). The School’s administrative home was the Department of Agriculture (College of Agriculture), and the School would remain a part of the College’s administrative structure until 1960.

Admission to the West Central School was open to young men and women, and when possible, students were asked to “present county or high school certificates in the common branches.” The School welcomed students “even though they may not be able to show graduation from the usual eighth grade work” (1912-1913 Bulletin). Courses of study were outlined for up to five years at the School. In the 1910s, men and women shared classes in subjects such as English, industrial geography, algebra, economics, and rural sociology, while young men studied physics, animal husbandry, and farm management and young women studied laundering and sanitation, sewing and cooking, food chemistry, and dressmaking.

The Legislative Commission on Schools of Agriculture and the Legislative Commission on Higher Education submitted reports in 1959 recommending that the Board of Regents develop collegiate programs at the West Central School and Northwest School (Crookston) of Agriculture. At the Board of Regents meeting on October 31, 1959, the following position was taken, “The Board of Regents, following study for more than two years, has concluded that it is now desirable and feasible to begin the phasing out of high school level instruction and to begin offering collegiate level instruction at the West Central School.” The first year of college-level liberal arts courses began on the Morris campus in the fall of 1960. School of Agriculture students who had been admitted in 1959 were able to continue with their course of study through 1963, but after that year, School of Agriculture curriculum was no longer offered on the Morris campus.

In 1960, when the high school became the University of Minnesota - Morris, a four-year liberal arts college, the campus retained the teaching facilities of the Experiment Station. The Station was and remains a regional center for agricultural research. Initially, as the Station developed, animal husbandry, crop production, and horticulture were the core research and education strengths. The research and education focus remained as such until about 1990, when, in response to changes in agriculture and rural community life, the Station was renamed the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC). New programs emphasizing rural sociology, agricultural economics and sustainability, in addition to traditional research subjects, define the current research agenda.

West Central School of Agriculture Superintendents

  1. E. C. Higbee, Superintendent, 1910-1917
  2. Theodore H. Fenske, Superintendent, 1938-1947
  3. Allen W. Edson, Acting Superintendent and Superintendent, 1947-1958
  4. Rodney A. Briggs, Superintendent, 1958-1961
  5. Ralph E. Smith, Acting Superintendent and Superintendent, 1961-1963
  6. (After the School closed in 1963, Smith continued to serve as superintendent of the West Central Experiment Station until his retirement in 1982.)


3.75 Cubic Feet (3 boxes)


The collection contains annual reports, newsletters, circulars, research reports, yearbooks and proceedings of the West Central School of Agriculture and Experiment Station, a division of the Department of Agriculture at the University of Minnesota.

Source of acquisition

The majority of the collection was deposited in University archives in 1950, 1967 and 1968.

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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West Central School of Agriculture and Experiment Station records, 1915-2003
Karen Spilman
July 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