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Syracuse University College of Agriculture Collection

An inventory of the collection at the Syracuse University Archives


Creator: Syracuse University. -- College of Agriculture.
Title: Syracuse University College of Agriculture Collection
Dates: 1910-1934
Size: 1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Abstract: Faculty minutes, bulletins, publications, and other documentation about the College of Agriculture at Syracuse University.
Language: English
Repository: University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Ave., Suite 600
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Historical Note

Slocum Hall

In his 1904 proposal for an improved campus, Syracuse University Chancellor James R. Day included a provision for a "college of agriculture and forestry." Much of the support for a school of agriculture grew out of resentment towards Cornell University, which was granted a quarter of a million dollars by the New York State Legislature to fund its College of Agriculture in February 1904. Chancellor Day felt strongly that the state government was favoring Cornell at the expense of other universities. Though little more was accomplished in the following years, due to a lack of financial resources at the University, he redoubled his efforts to open a school of agriculture in 1909. Most notably, the Chancellor began to advocate the establishment of a state scholarship fund to promote agricultural education at Syracuse and other state universities. Though state funding never materialized, by February of 1910 the University Bulletin announced the presence of an "Agricultural Institute" as well as entrance requirements, expenses, and a summary of the four-year program.

With personal funds, Chancellor Day purchased a hundred-acre farm at the end of Lancaster Avenue on Colvin Street, which was then purchased by the University at cost. The farm, combined with the support of Dr. William L. Bray, who came to campus in 1907 as the Chair of the Botany Department, made up the only resources the University had to build the foundation for a school of agriculture. The April 1910 Bulletin announced the establishment of courses in agriculture and forestry with suggested programs of study for freshmen and sophomores and a promise that special training in agriculture would be supplied at the upper levels. Although the classes were open to all University students, those specializing in agriculture were under the guidance of Dr. Bray. A few students may have registered for agricultural classes in the fall of 1910; though the exact figures are not known, one student, George Delcasse, did receive a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in June of 1911.

One of the College of Agriculture's largest proponents was Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage of New York City. Mrs. Sage had become a benefactor of the University several years earlier by establishing endowments for the Margaret Olivia Slocum Teachers College. Since her father, Joseph Slocum, had shown a deep interest in agriculture, in 1912 Mrs. Sage made a gift of $50,000 to maintain a professorship in agriculture, $20,000 to provide scholarships, and $13,000 to eliminate the mortgage on the University's farm. Chancellor Day kept Mrs. Sage informed of the progress of the young college, which included an increase in enrollment from 35 students in 1913 to 143 students by 1916. In light of this growth, Mrs. Sage determined to erect a $300,000 building that was completed in October of 1918 and named Slocum Hall in memory of her father.

By the 1920s, however, the College of Agriculture was operating on a budget deficit; in the academic year 1922-1923 that deficit was almost $23,000. Chancellor Charles Wesley Flint was combating a large University debt and reported to the Board of Trustees during the summer and early fall of 1923 that College of Agriculture enrollment was declining.

A survey conducted in 1930 by Floyd W. Reeves on behalf of the Board of Education of the Methodist Church found that Syracuse University was the only agricultural college in the country not receiving state or federal funding. Reeves, insisting that enrollment be kept at a manageable number, between 100 and 125 students, ultimately recommended that the college be closed. Internal findings on the operation of the college farm determined that rising labor costs were largely responsible for the deficit in the farm's operating budget. In the spring of 1932, Chancellor Flint ordered the college dean, Reuben L. Nye, to "make ends meet." Dean Nye was unable to improve the college's prospects, and in June of 1932 the Board of Trustees voted to discontinue the college as soon as all the current students had graduated. Formal instruction ended in June 1934, though graduations in agriculture were recorded until 1939. The closing of the college led to gradual curtailment of programs on the farm, which, along with Slocum Hall and the Sage endowments, was converted to more useful purposes under Chancellor Tolley.

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Scope and Content Note

The Syracuse University College of Agriculture Collection contains varied content, spanning the years 1910 to 1934. The most informational value is contained in the faculty minutes, which cover thirteen years of the college's existence and provide faculty names, course details, student petitions and regulations regarding absences, grading policies, eligibility requirements, honor awards, and examinations. Minutes are also available from the Board of Trustees for meetings dealing with the founding of the College of Agriculture. Various issues of The Harvester from 1923 and 1925 provide images of the college farm as well as articles written by students on a broad range of agricultural issues. The College of Agriculture Bulletin is also included in the collection and provides a wealth of information on courses offered. Other items of note include reports, a pamphlet from the Faculty Follies, and a letter from the Office of Chancellor Charles Wesley Flint to the college alumni on the closing of the College of Agriculture. Other correspondence is primarily from Dean Reuben L. Nye to the University Senate and Trustees and College of Agriculture staff. There is also a letter from Nye to Chancellor W. Flint and several letters with recommendations for candidates for graduation from the College of Agriculture. Course lists from unknown academic years are available, along with recommendations provided to the University Senate from college faculty regarding amendments to University regulations. Finally, a list of songs sung by College of Agriculture students at football games, conference programs, and a Special Circular publication from 1924 are also included in the College of Agriculture Collection.

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Access Restrictions

Please note that the collection is housed off-site, and advance notice is required to allow time to have the materials brought to the Reading Room on campus.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from the Syracuse University Archives and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Images of Slocum Hall and the University farm are held in the Archives Photograph Collection. There are portrait and clipping files for Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, Dean William L. Bray and Dean Reuben L. Nye. There is also a clipping file for the College of Agriculture.

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Selected Search Terms


Bray, William L., 1865-1953.
Flint, Charles W., 1878-1964.
Nye, Reuben L.
Syracuse University -- Buildngs.
Syracuse University.
Syracuse University. -- College of Agriculture.

Types of material

Students' songs.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Syracuse University College of Agriculture Collection,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

No acquisition information is available for this collection.

Processing Information

The materials were placed in acid free folders.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: Cara Howe
Date: 2010
Revision history: Converted to EAD by Erin Lee, 2012; December 2019 - Revised to match style guide (NAW)

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The subject files are arranged alphabetically with contents arranged chronologically.

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Subject files
Box 1 Annual conference of rural workers 1913
Box 1 Board of trustees minutes 1910-1922
Box 1 Bulletin 1911-1915, 1917, 1920, 1922, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1933-1934
Box 1 Bulletin 1912-1934 (bound)
Box 1 Closing of the college of agriculture 1933
Box 1 Correspondence 1921-1928, undated
Box 1 Course lists undated
Box 1 Faculty follies 1923
Box 1 Faculty minutes 1920-1922
Box 1 Faculty minutes 1923-1933
Box 1 The harvester 1923, 1925
Box 1 Midsummer conference of district superintendents, principals, and rural teachers 1912
Box 1 Recommendations for amendments to university regulations 1922-1924, undated
Box 1 Report of the committee on agricultural education 1910
Box 1 Songs undated
Box 1 Special circular 1924
Box 1 University farm report 1933

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