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Special Collections: Agricultural History at Penn State

Materials about agricultural history at Penn State found within the Special Collections Library

Penn State Extension

In 1911, Penn State requested money from the state legislature to fund a system of agricultural agents to distribute knowledge from the School of Agriculture to practicing farmers across the state. The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 provided $10,000 annually to each state for agricultural and home economics extension allowing for the expansion of the agricultural cooperative extension.

By 1921, Pennsylvania was one of only six states to have a centralized agricultural cooperative extension program. The extension service employed specialists in economics, forestry, pesticides, soils, agronomy, family life, and many other subjects. The agents for Penn State's extension program were essential to:

  • providing technical information from the USDA and Penn State's experiment station
  • supervised experimental plantings
  • judging local fairs
  • organizing 4-H youth clubs
  • publicizing local activities
  • recruiting students for Penn State


Dean Watts addressing farmers in Butler County, June 3, 1916.

Archival Collections