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Northwest Experiment Station and School records

Identifier: ua-01194

Scope and Content

The Northwest Agricultural Experiment Station collection contains station newsletters and bulletins from the Crookston experiment station published between 1910 and 1989. In addition, the collection contains materials from the School of Agriculture, which opened for secondary school students 1906 and closed in 1968, and the University of Minnesota – Crookston, which opened as a four year college in the fall 1968. Materials from the school to college transition include talks and writings, self-studies, planning documents, yearbooks, newsletters, building information and a small number of program reports. Inclusive dates are 1910-2000.


  • 1910-2000


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 Minnesota State Legislature and the University Board of Regents created the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station in 1885 near the University’s Minneapolis campus. The 1897 Biennial Report of the Board of Regents explained how the subsequent experiment sub-stations were established, “A law, enacted at the last session of the state legislature, required the regents to purchase and equip two substations, each to contain not less than 320 acres, and appropriated $20,000 for that purpose, and the additional sum of $10,000 for the biennial period of 1895-96 with which to pay the expenses of conducting experiments.” At their May 1, 1895, meeting, the Board of Regents appointed an agricultural committee “to carry out the provisions of this act.”

The 1897 Biennial Report of the Board of Regents also noted that the committee visited Crookston and “made a careful examination of several tracts of land…”James J. Hill’s (of the Great Northern Railroad) offer to donate land for the substation was accepted and the deed for the land was executed on August 21, 1895.

The 1900 Biennial Report of the Board of Regents included the following update, “Our three subexperiment farms, located at Crookston, Grand Rapids, and Coteau, Lyon county, respectively, are doing valuable work for these different sections of the state, which, owing to the peculiar conditions of soil and climate, can be better carried on there than at the central farm. They are deserving of liberal support, encouragement and commendation.”

In 1905, the Minnesota legislature appropriated funding to establish the Northwest School of Agriculture in Crookston as a regional residential high school with a focus on agriculture. The School opened in the fall of 1906 with 31 students enrolled and providing technical and practical training in agriculture and homemaking.

At their May 6, 1912, meeting, the Regents voted to recommend new official names for all experiment stations under the administrative umbrella of the University’s Department of Agriculture. The Northwest Sub-experiment Station and the Northwest School of Agriculture became the Northwest School and Experiment Station, Crookston.

The 1946 President’s Report described the Northwest Station at Crookston and other branch experiment stations as “active in the testing, increase, and distribution of new crops; the management of pastures; and the investigation of rotation practices, soil fertility, and use of fertilizers.”

After decades of fairly steady growth in student enrollment, the School’s administrators recognized in the 1950s that agricultural education opportunities were now readily available in the students’ home communities. 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 Northwest School and the West Central School (Morris) of Agriculture. A study in the 1960s by the University Bureau of Field Studies examined new roles for the Northwest School of Agriculture, and the Board of Regents discussed launching a college-level technical institute.

On May 26, 1965, the Minnesota Legislature approved the creation and education appropriations funding for an Agricultural and Technical Institute to be located on the campus of the Northwest School of Agriculture in Crookston. On September 17, 1965, Stanley D. Sahlstrom was appointed the first director of the University of Minnesota Technical Institute. Classes began at the new Technical Institute in the fall of 1966. In March 1968, the last graduating class of the Northwest School of Agriculture held its commencement ceremony.

Both the Northwest Experiment Station and the Technical Institute were under the administrative structure of the University’s Institute of Agriculture.

The 1968 President’s Report described the Technical Institute at Crookston as “a new and different concept of college education, offering two-year programs in agriculture, business, and food service management.” That same year, the University of Minnesota Technical Institute was renamed the University of Minnesota Technical College.

During this time, the Northwest Experiment Station concentrated its research and outreach efforts on swine, turkeys, sunflowers, sugar beets, vegetables, alfalfa, apples, crab apples, plums, drainage problems, and hail damage effects.

In 1988, the Regents officially changed the name of the Crookston campus to the University of Minnesota, Crookston, with a mission to provide a “unique contribution through applied, career-oriented learning programs that combine theory, practice and experimentation in a technologically rich environment.”

In October 1998, the Educational Planning and Policy Committee of the Board of Regents recommended that branch Experiment Stations change their names to Research and Outreach Centers, and the Board voted unanimously to approve the recommendation at their October 9, 1998, meeting. The Northwest Experiment Station became the Northwest Research and Outreach Center. Research areas for the Center’s work included agronomy, entomology, natural resources, plant pathology, and soil science.

Through the early 1990s, the Crookston campus offered only associate degrees, but the University wanted to explore expanding Crookston’s mission in “those areas unique to the campus -- agriculture, natural resources, small business, and hospitality -- which will serve students well.”

At their July 1992 meeting, the Board of Regents approved a revised mission statement for the University of Minnesota, Crookston, which included the following section, “The University of Minnesota, Crookston provides teaching, research, and service, including associate degrees and selected baccalaureate degrees, with a focus on applied undergraduate instruction and research in agriculture, business, environmental sciences, human resource development, and appropriate interdisciplinary studies.”

Station and School Names

  1. Northwest Sub-experiment Station, 1895-1912
  2. Northwest School of Agriculture, 1906-1912
  3. Northwest School and Experiment Station, Crookston, 1912-1965
  4. University of Minnesota Technical Institute, 1965-1968
  5. Northwest Experiment Station, 1965-1998
  6. University of Minnesota Technical College, 1968-1988
  7. University of Minnesota, Crookston, 1988-
  8. Northwest Research and Outreach Center, 1998-

Station and Research and Outreach Center Superintendents

  1. Torger A. Hoverstad, 1895-1905
  2. W.M. Robertson, 1905-1910
  3. Conrad G. Selvig, 1910-1927
  4. Austin A. Dowell, 1927-1937
  5. Thomas M. McCall, 1937-1956
  6. Bernard E. Youngquist, 1956-1984
  7. Larry J. Smith, 1984-2010

School of Agriculture, Technical Institute, Technical College, and University of Minnesota-Crookston Heads

  1. W.M. Robertson, Superintendent, 1905-1910
  2. Conrad G. Selvig, Superintendent, 1910-1927
  3. Austin A. Dowell, Superintendent, 1927-1937
  4. Thomas M. McCall, Superintendent, 1937-1956
  5. Bernard E. Youngquist, Superintendent, 1956-1965
  6. Stanley D. Stahlstrom, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Provost, 1965-1985
  7. Donald G. Sargeant, Provost and Chancellor, 1985-2003
  8. Velmer S. Burton, Jr., Chancellor, 2003-2004
  9. Joseph G. Massey, Chancellor, 2004-2005


2.5 Cubic Feet (2 boxes)


Collection contains Agricultural Experiment Station newsletters and bulletins, and yearbooks, building information, and talks and writings from the School of Agriculture at Crookston.

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.

Northwest Experiment Station and School records, 1910-2000
Karen Spilman
July 2011
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