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Department of Agricultural Short Courses records

Identifier: ua-01064

Scope and Content

The collection consists of scrapbooks, correspondence, travel itineraries, news clippings, course descriptions and conference and symposia programs and proceedings. Inclusive dates for the collection are 1917-1986; bulk dates are 1954-1966. Visiting scholars from over one hundred countries enrolled in courses at the University of Minnesota and other US College and Universities in programs administered by the Foreign Operations Administration and the International Cooperation Administration with the support of the USDA and land grant institutions.

The collection is arranged in two series: International Programs and Subject Files.

Series 1, International Programs consists of travel itineraries and reports. Information in the itineraries includes names and country of origin of scholars, government officials and students who traveled to the United States to do coursework in some aspect of agriculture. Travelers took courses at one or more short course programs at land grant institutions around the United States. Names of the courses that travelers enrolled in are included in the itineraries, as well as the length of stay in each location. The itineraries are arranged loosely by date and traveler(s) country of origin. There is generally a student supplied report on course learning outcomes and how the learning will be applied in the home country. There are also a small amount of itineraries filed under the name of groups representing professional or business organizations, such as the Grain Storage and Marketing Group or International Bankers Group.

Series 2, Subject Files, consists of short-course related materials, including short-course bulletins, brochures, conference proceedings and selected course materials on a wide range of agriculture-related subjects, including agricultural education, animal and plant husbandry, fisheries, agronomy, soils, fertilizers and fertilizer application, agricultural journalism, farm finances and accounting, conservation, forestry and paper products, fire prevention and arts and culture in rural settings. The series also contains a history of the short course program for European students, textbooks and workbooks.


  • 1917-1986
  • Majority of material found within ( 1954-1966)


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 purpose of Agricultural Short Courses has been, according to a brief history written by LaVern Freeh, “…to provide continuing education opportunities for people employed in agriculture, forestry, home economics and veterinary medicine.” The earliest courses were aimed at farmers and homemakers, and offerings were expanded to attract craftsmen, rural educators, newspaper editors and businessmen living in a rural context. Courses were non-credit and intensive sessions on specific subjects.

The first agricultural short course was offered in February, 1882, by Professor of Agriculture Edward Porter. Porter offered a series of lectures to the general public to increase public awareness of the new College of Agriculture. Talks were offered by no less than Charles Loring, then U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture, as well as experts in forest husbandry, horticulture and veterinary practices. By 1884, University coursework for farmers and rural professionals was formalized as the Farmers Institute. As the years advanced and farming became more corporate, technical and global, course offerings became longer and increasingly science-based. The program grew to a department level and by the 1950s was responsible for foreign training programs, campus meetings, seminar and tour planning and providing programming assistance to the all of the divisions of the Institute of Agriculture.

The administrative history of the department was peripatetic: From 1886 to 1903, Farmer’s Institute courses were held irregularly: a successor program was created by the department of Agriculture dean William Liggett in 1903 titled Short Courses for Farmers in Horticulture and Livestock. In 1912, the program became a unit within the Department of Agriculture directly administered by the dean.

In 1919, the program location was transferred to the College of Agriculture on the St Paul Campus, though it remained under administrative control of the Dean’s Office. In 1928, administrative control passed to the Agricultural Extension Service, and returned again to the Dean’s Office in the Department of Agriculture in 1935. The program remained within the Department of Agriculture until 1954. At that time, it was re-titled the Office of Agricultural Short Courses and administratively relocated to the School of Agriculture on the St. Paul campus. The director of the Office continued to report to the dean of the Department of Agriculture. The School of Agriculture closed in 1961, and the Office was re-titled the Department of Agricultural Short Courses with the reporting line to the dean of the renamed Institute of Agriculture. n 1968, the Department was again re-titled, becoming the Office of Special Programs (OSP) under the Agricultural Extension Service. In 1982, OSP celebrated its centennial. In 1987, the name of the department changed to the Educational Development System with administrative responsibility located in Agricultural Extension.

Administrators for the Department of Agricultural Short Courses
  1. J.O. Christianson, 1960-1961
  2. Robert Pinches, 1961-1962
  3. Theodore Fenske, 1962-1962
  4. LaVern Freeh, 1963-1980
  5. Curtis Norenberg, 1980-1984
  6. Sandra Becker, 1984-1987


16.25 Cubic Feet (13 boxes)


Collection consists of scrapbooks, correspondence, travel itineraries, news clippings, course descriptions and conference and symposia programs and proceedings of courses offered by the Department of Agricultural Short Courses.

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 Short Courses records, 1917-1986
Susan Hoffman and Valerie MacDonald
March 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