Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family: A Photo History of Indiana’s Early County Extension Agents

Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family: A Photo History of Indiana’s Early County Extension Agents (Hardback)

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 Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family: A Photo History of Indiana’s Early County Extension Agents
Purdue University Press
12.00" x 9.00"

Book Description

Today, Purdue Extension delivers practical, research-based information that transforms lives and livelihoods. Tailored to the needs of Indiana, its programs include: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Health and Human Sciences, Economic and Community Development, and 4-H Youth Development. However, today’s success is built on over a century of visionary hard work and outreach.


Imagine Indiana's farms at the turn of the last century. Having a good or bad year could mean the difference between prosperity and your family going hungry. Before farmers abandoned decades of proven practices or adopted new technology, they would have to be convinced that it would work and that using it was in their best interest.


Enter county Extension agents, who took up their posts in 1912. Many of the most significant agricultural innovations of the last hundred years were still being developed in the laboratories and experimental fields of land-grant universities like Purdue.


Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family: A Photo History of Indiana’s Early County Extension Agents captures the story of the state’s first Extension agents in archival photos and words, when Extension was an idea and county agents were folks who traveled muddy back roads visiting farmers day after day, year after year.


Compiled from original county agent records discovered in Purdue University’s Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center in the Purdue University Libraries, Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family includes hundreds of rare, never-before-published photographs and anecdotal information about how county agents overcame their constituents’ reluctance to change. Through patient outreach and dedicated engagement, they built trust in communities and little by little were able to share new information that introduced farmers and their families to exciting new frontiers of productivity.


Book Reviews

Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, Purdue University 


Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family is a treasure of incredible photographs and insightful narrative about the

crucial role that county Extension agents played in transforming the agriculture of Indiana in the early part of the twentieth century. These remarkable images capture the creativity of Extension agents bringing new ideas to rural areas. Additionally, they capture the pride of Indiana farmers and their families as they reap the benefits of those innovative technologies, practices, and record-keeping tools. Anyone interested in midwestern agricultural history and the economic development of rural areas will find this a fascinating and inspirational journey back to a truly transformational time.


R. Douglas Hurt, Professor and Head, Purdue University Department of History 


Whitford, Harmeyer, and Hovde have compiled an important pictorial history focusing on the Cooperative Extension Service in Indiana during the 1910s through the 1930s. It is a powerful and moving record that shows the importance of Extension outreach in American agricultural life.

Don Villwock, Past President, Indiana Farm Bureau


This beautiful book really shows the hard work and dedication of our early Extension agents as they built the Cooperative Extension Service in Indiana. What they taught and demonstrated may have changed, but the groundwork they laid built a valuable base for today’s Purdue Extension, which still serves our state and people of all ages. . . . I salute the authors for an outstanding compilation of historical photos that tells the story of early Extension work throughout Indiana.

Karen Plaut, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, Purdue University College of Agriculture


Congratulations are in order for Whitford, Harmeyer, and Hovde, who put together this captivating story of the great history of the Hoosier farm family and how research and Extension helped make farms and families become what they are today.

Jason Henderson, Associate Dean, Purdue University College of Agriculture, and Director of Purdue Extension


Early county Extension agents understood that the Cooperative Extension Service was progressive for its era. Only by looking back can we truly understand the full measure of all that their diligence and dedication helped to build. With its compelling and comprehensive collection of photographs, Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family provides a fascinating, slice-of-life archive of agricultural accomplishments in Indiana. Through vividly detailed historical writing, Whitford, Harmeyer, and Hovde also evoke the selflessness with which county agents empowered Indiana farmers by personally, and painstakingly, delivering expert information from Purdue University. Only by challenging convention could these men and women change the world. Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family beautifully illustrates their integral role in shaping the American experience.

About the Author(s):

Frederick Whitford works for the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service in the College of Agriculture. He received a BS in wildlife management from Louisiana Tech University, and an MS and PhD in entomology from Iowa State University. He has authored more than 250 research, extension, and regulatory publications, and has delivered at least 4,000 presentations to a wide array of audiences. He has written several other books about the history of Indiana agriculture, all published by Purdue University Press.


A downloadable brochure of Whitford's agricultural history books with discount information is available here.


Neal Harmeyer is an archivist at Purdue University Archives and Special Collections. Harmeyer grew up on a multigenerational family farm in northeastern Fayette County, Indiana, where he helped raise animals. He earned a BA degree in history from Purdue and an MLS degree from Indiana University.

David M. Hovde, the research and instruction librarian in the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center, is an associate professor of library science and has been at Purdue University since 1989. He has authored or coauthored numerous monographs, books, book chapters, and articles in archaeology, history, semiotics, and pedagogy.