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Walter Castella Coffey papers

Identifier: uarc 699

Scope and Content

The collection highlights interests and activities of Walter Castella Coffey during his tenure as Dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Minnesota (1921-1941) and as interim president of Hamline University (1952-1953.) The collection consists of personal and professional correspondence, speeches and writings, biographical information and clippings underscoring Coffey’s interests in sheep breeding, agriculture, education and religion.

The collection is arranged in three series: Correspondence; Speeches; and Subject Files. The Correspondence series is primarily personal correspondence to friends and family, with a small amount of materials referencing Coffey’s writings and relations to editors and publishers.

The Speeches series includes texts for events held at the University and elsewhere; conferences, meetings, and commencements; and speeches on agriculture, monetary policy, education and religion. Speeches from Coffey’s tenure as university president (1941-1945) will be found in the Office of the President records.

Subject files include material reflecting Coffey’s varied interests, including clippings from news sources about sheep, including breeding and rearing, health, marketing, showing and wool; accounts of several trips Coffey took in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s; and organizations Coffey served as a board member.


  • 1885-1955


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.

Biographical Sketch of Walter Castella Coffey (1876-1959)

Walter Castella Coffey, B.S. (1906), M.S. (1909), University of Illinois. Dean, Department of Agriculture (1921-1940), President (1941-1945), University of Minnesota. Known for his work in the field of sheep breeding .

Walter Castella Coffey was born in Hartsville, Indiana, February 1, 1876. After studying animal husbandry at the University of Illinois, he became the herdsman and shepherd of flocks at the Illinois College of Agriculture in 1903. He was well known as an instructor of sheep breeding and for his numerous publications in that field. He spent 15 years in the University of Illinois’s department of Animal Husbandry before being recruited as dean of the Department of Agriculture by then University president Lotus Coffman.

During his twenty years as dean of the Department of Agriculture at the University of Minnesota, he headed national drought relief efforts during the Dust Bowl years, served as director of the International Livestock Exposition, chair of the Agricultural Board of the National Research Council, vice-president of the American Association of Land Grant Colleges and chair of the Board of Directors of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank. Coffey followed Guy Stanton Ford as president of the University in 1941, where he reorganized the office by creating two vice-presidential positions, one for academic affairs and one for business operations. During his term, academic governance advanced with the establishment of the faculty tenure code. After retiring from the University, he served as interim President of Hamline College (June 1952-January 1953) and headed the building fund drive for the St Paul campus student union. Walter Coffey died January 31, 1956.


5.0 Cubic Feet (5)


Collection contains personal and professional correspondence, speeches and writings, biographical information and clippings underscoring Walter Coffey’s interests in sheep breeding, agriculture, education and religion.


The collection is arranged into three series:

  1. Correspondence
  2. Speeches
  3. Subject Files

Source of acquisition

Donated to University Archives by the Agriculture Library (Magrath Library), the Department of Agriculture and Viola Chandler between 1952 and 1957.

Related Materials in University Archives

Office of the President Records

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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Walter Castella Coffey papers, 1885-1955
Alma O. Scott; updated by Karen Spilman
December 1956; February 2005
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area