Celebrating the Smith-Lever Act (& Cooperative Extension!), Part III

Happy 100th Birthday, Smith-Lever Act!

Continuing the theme of extension and agriculture work, today’s post features USDA publications from the 1930s to the 1980s. As you’ll see, it’s not just about cooking, but farming, gardening, building, organizing, and buying. All the publications below come from the same collection in Special Collections: Ms2011-022, National Agriculture Publications, 1917-1990. You can see the full finding aid, with bibliography, here.

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Celebrating the Smith-Lever Act (& Cooperative Extension!), Part II

We’re one week closer to the anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, so I wanted to share some more Extension materials. This week, I raided Ms2012-040, State/Regional Home and Agricultural Publications. Three folders of this collection contain a range of publications from Virginia Cooperative Extension, published between the 1930s and the 1970s. You can see the folder list, complete with a bibliography of publications, online

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Celebrating the Smith-Lever Act (& Cooperative Extension!), Part I

In just about two weeks (May 8, 2014), we’ll celebrate the 100 Anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act. Passed in 1914, the act created a system of cooperative extension organizations. Usually extension agencies were associated with land-grant university, like Virginia Tech (or Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute, as we were back in 1914). The law stated that:

Cooperative agricultural extension work shall consist of the development of practical applications of research knowledge and giving of instruction and practical demonstrations of existing or improved practices or technologies in agriculture, uses of solar energy with respect to agriculture, home economics, and rural energy and subjects relating thereto to persons not attending or resident in said colleges in the several communities, and imparting information on said subjects through demonstrations, publications, and otherwise and for the necessary printing and distribution of information in connection with the foregoing; (U.S. Code, Title 7 ,Chapter 13, Subchapter IV, § 342- Cooperative agricultural extension work)

The practical work of cooperative extension agents involved educating the rural and urban public about agriculture, farming and 4-H; home economics; economic development; government and public policy; leadership; and just about any subject that might be related! Here in Virginia, extension work had already begun back in 1906, but the passage of the Smith-Lever Act led to a change of location for the base of operations, from Burkesville to Blacksburg.

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