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Agriculture

Because of Cornell’s profound influence upon agriculture development, the Division’s holdings relating to agriculture are extensive. The largest component of this body of historical resources originated in the College of Agriculture. A part of Cornell University since it opened in 1868, it has also been the New York State College of Agriculture since 1903. Included are records of the Office of the Dean, of associated offices, departments engaged in teaching and research, several support units, the agricultural experiment stations, and correspondence and other papers of individual faculty members.

Some records originating in the College were created especially to support research. Notable here are completed survey forms used in the Department of Rural Sociology between 1920 and 1964 in connection with thirty-five research projects about rural health, community organization, adoption of farm practices, rural education, and related subjects. Another extensive collection of survey forms originated in the Department of Agricultural Economics. It includes the completed forms for the study of Tompkins County agriculture in 1908 by George Warren which established the survey method for determining how farmers use land, labor, and capital. Records of general stores, saw mills, grist mills, farms, and other nineteenth century businesses which the Department of Agricultural Economics collected during the 1920s to support historical studies of agricultural accounting constitute another sizeable and significant body of source material.

Other source material relating to agriculture includes records of some larger scale agricultural businesses have also been preserved; noteworthy are the records of the Edgett-Burnham Company which canned fruits and vegetables. Among farm organization records are those of the Dairymen’s League Cooperative Association, the National Grange, the New York State Grange, and the New York State Farm Bureau. There are also papers of individual farmers, their diaries and account books.

Audio-visual holdings include an extensive collection of taped oral history interviews. Subjects include the evolution of the food processing industry in New York State, the advent of artificial insemination in the United States, the introduction of a sugar beet industry in New York State, decision making of farm families, and the history of the College of Agriculture. The collection includes numerous photographic prints and negatives which depict individual and family activities as well as teaching and research. In 1906 George F. Warren began a remarkable set of photographs depicting farms and other agricultural activities in New York State that his colleagues and successors in Agricultural Economics added to until the 1950s. Since the 1920s the College of Agriculture maintained a photographic services unit. Original motion picture footage also is housed in the Division.

Additional manuscript collections document agricultural activities internationally. Cornell’s association with the University of Nanking and with the University of the Philippines are documented, as are the Cross-Cultural Methodology Projects based in Peru, Thailand, and India.

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