National Ag Day is celebrated on March 21 this year (2023), beginning National Ag Week. It’s a day to recognize and celebrate the contributions agriculture makes both to our economy and to our everyday lives. According to the Agricultural Council of America, “agricultural literacy includes an understanding of agriculture’s history and current economic, social and environmental significance to all Americans.”
A search on our website for “agriculture” will show that Purdue University Press publishes a variety of books on agriculture and agricultural history. Below are a few suggestions to get you started.
American Agriculture: A Brief History, Revised Edition
R. Douglas Hurt’s brief history of American agriculture, from the prehistoric period through the twentieth century, is written for anyone coming to this subject for the first time. American Agriculture is a story of considerable achievement and success, but it is also a story of greed, racism, and violence. Hurt offers a provocative look at a history that has been shaped by the best and worst of human nature in this cornerstone publication. Here is the background essential for understanding the complexity of American agricultural history, from the transition to commercial agriculture during the colonial period to the failure of government policy following World War II.
Foundations of Agriculture Education, Fourth Edition
Foundations of Agricultural Education, Fourth Edition is designed for college students in agricultural education and others interested in agricultural education as fundamental preparation for the profession. Teachers of agricultural education and those in support roles will find this book to be a helpful resource. This fourth edition is updated to reflect current educational theory and practices, and includes changed laws and initiatives since the third edition. It is an engaging, immersive guide that will help prepare the next generation of agricultural educators.
Queen of American Agriculture: A Biography of Virginia Claypool Meredith
A lifetime of dedication made Virginia Meredith “the most remarkable woman in Indiana” and the “Queen of American Agriculture.” Meredith was also an integral part of the history of Purdue University. She was the first woman appointed to serve on the university’s board of trustees, had a residence hall named in her honor, and worked with her adopted daughter, Mary L. Matthews, in creating the School of Home Economics, the predecessor of today’s College of Consumer and Family Sciences. Queen of American Agriculture is available in paperback beginning this month.
Grand Old Man of Purdue University and Indiana Agriculture: A Biography of William Carol Latta
William Carol Latta was the 13th member of the Purdue faculty. He became the driving force behind Purdue’s world-famous School of Agriculture and initiated extension services that have lasted for more than a century.
Planting the Seeds of Hope: Indiana County Extension Agents During the Great Depression and World War II
Using the observations and reports of county agents, Planting the Seeds of Hope offers a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to live through the Depression and World War II in rural Indiana. The agents’ own words and numerous accompanying photographs provide a one-of-a-kind perspective that brings their stories and those of the agricultural community they served to life at a pivotal time in American history. Preorder your copy now!
For the Good of the Farmer: A Biography of John Harrison Skinner, Dean of Purdue Agriculture
The key role that farming plays in the economy of Indiana today owes much to the work of John Harrison Skinner (1874–1942). Skinner was a pioneering educator and administrator who transformed the study of agriculture at Purdue University during the first decades of the twentieth century.
Scattering the Seeds of Knowledge: The Words and Works of Indiana’s Pioneer County Extension Agents
Scattering the Seeds of Knowledge: The Words and Works of Indiana’s Pioneer County Extension Agents chronicles the tales of the first county Extension agents, from 1912 to 1939. Through old-fashioned, can-do perseverance and a dogged determination to make a difference in the lives of people, these county Extension agents slowly inched the state forward one farmer at a time. Their story is a lesson on what agriculture was like at the turn of the twentieth century, and a lesson to us all about how patient outreach and dedicated engagement-backed by proven science from university research-reshaped and modernized Indiana agriculture.
Memories of Life on the Farm: Through the Lens of Pioneer Photographer J. C. Allen
John Calvin Allen, professionally known as J. C., worked as a photographer for Purdue University from 1909-1952, and operated his own photography business until his death in 1976. The J. C. Allen photographs represent a historical account of the transition from pioneer practices to scientific methodologies in agriculture and rural communities. This volume contains over 900 picturesque images, most never-before-seen, of men, women, and children working on the farm, which remain powerful reminders of life in rural America at the turn of the twentieth century. As old farmhouses and barns fall victim to age, Allen photographs are all that remain. A camera in his hands and an eye for photography allowed Allen to create indelible visual histories that continue to tell the story of agriculture and rural life from long ago.
Why Agriculture Productivity Falls: The Political Economy of Agrarian Transition in Developing Countries
This book offers a new explanation for the decline in agricultural productivity in developing countries. Transcending the conventional approaches to understanding productivity using agricultural inputs and factors of production, this work brings in the role of formal and informal institutions that govern transactions, property rights, and accumulation. s. The book covers the historical shifts in land relations, productivity, and class relations that have led to present-day challenges in sustainability. The result is arrested productivity growth. Why Agriculture Productivity Falls is a much-needed corrective to the traditional understanding, because before we can increase productivity, we must understand the root causes of those challenges.
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