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K-State Today

May 18, 2012



Agricultural History Society to meet in Manhattan June 6-9

By Bonnie Lynn-Sherow

Meeting logo

As the first operational land-grant university in the nation, Kansas State University was an easy choice for the upcoming meeting of the Agricultural History's Society's 2012 meeting.

The international Agricultural History Society will hold its annual meeting June 6-9 in Manhattan. The theme of this year's meeting is "Agriculture and the State." The Morrill Act, the Homestead Act and the creation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be highlighted.

According to local arrangements chair, Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, associate professor of history and director of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies, in 1862, under the Lincoln Administration, the U.S. Congress passed three remarkable bills in quick succession in May and July of that year. The Homestead Act opened millions of acres of federally owned land to any head of household who wished to claim 160 acres. The Morrill Land Grant Act provided support for those homesteaders by creating schools of agriculture and the mechanic arts for the education of the people.

Kansas State Agricultural College was the first to open it's doors on Feb. 16, 1863. Finally, the federal department of agriculture became an official branch of the U.S. government – a move that set the United States apart from, and ahead, of the world in terms of agricultural science. 

The Agricultural History Society's membership consists of professional scholars, policymakers and researchers in all areas of agricultural history across the globe and is one of the oldest continuously active historical societies in the academe. The society also publishes a quarterly journal, Agricultural History. Presentations related to "Agriculture and the State" will be  in the new Manhattan Conference Center adjacent to the Hilton Garden Inn. Field trips for conferees include excursions to Konza Prairie Biological Station, the Land Institute in Salina (hosted by founder Wes Jackson), a canoe float along the Kansas River and a walking tour of Kansas State led by Lynn-Sherow.  

"We are very excited to bring distinguished scholars from around the world to Manhattan and especially to Kansas State. President Kirk Schulz has been very supportive in the planning of this conference from the start and we are grateful to him and to all our sponsors for making this meeting possible," Lynn-Sherow said.

Lynn-Sherow said that anyone can register for the conference, which will include an exclusive evening at the new Flint Hills Discovery Center and a keynote address by Richard Bushman of Columbia University. Participants should register by June 1. To see the full program and details on registration, visit the website of the Agricultural History Society.