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Records of Colorado Cooperative Extension

Identifier: AEXT

Scope and Contents

The Records of the Colorado Cooperative Extension consists of documents dated 1912 to 2000, with the bulk falling from 1919 to 1950. Subject matter includes WWI and WWII home front activities, Great Depression relief programs, home management, agriculture, animal husbandry, human-wildlife interaction, pesticide use, land management, water usage, 4-H youth development, and rural development. Materials range from scrapbook-type annual reports which include paper ephemera and photographs to more traditional statistical reports. Included in the materials are memoranda of understanding, budgets and fiscal reports, correspondence, publications, photographs, slides, and videos.


  • Creation: 1906-2000
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1916-1998


Restrictions on Access

Due to the presence of employee information in some of the series and subseries, some files require review before research access is granted. These are noted in the series descriptions and the inventory. Access to the employment information is only open to the employee in question and to Colorado State University employees. However, access to others will be granted upon having written consent from the employee or providing written proof that the employee is deceased. The collection is stored off-site, so advance notice is required.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


Colorado Cooperative Extension (formerly known as the Colorado Cooperative Extension Service and now known as Colorado Extension) has existed for nearly a century as the agricultural outreach arm of Colorado State University. The organization has its roots in early farmers' institutes conducted off-campus starting in 1879. These events served to bring research results from the university to rural farmers and homemakers in an effort to improve their quality of life. They also fulfilled one third of the tripartite land-grant mission of research, teaching, and outreach. These institutes evolved into the placement of agricultural specialists in various counties throughout the state, which is reflected in the earliest annual reports in this collection.

During the first decade of the twentieth century, land-grant colleges throughout the country experimented with ways to assist the nation's farmers in developing more efficient methods of production. The U.S. Congress appropriated funds in 1912 for county agent work, and in cooperation with the federal Bureau of Plant Industry, the Colorado Agricultural College assigned a faculty member from the agronomy department to supervise county agents in Colorado. Logan, El Paso, and Conejos were among the first Colorado counties to begin farm demonstration programs in the autumn of 1912, and these early county agencies were incorporated into the Cooperative Extension Service when it was created two years later.

The passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914 officially established Extension as a cooperative effort between the USDA, land-grant institutions, and state and local governments. Each state would set up its own operation with the USDA through its land-grant university. On July 30, 1914, Colorado State University president Charles Lory signed a Memorandum of Understanding with US Secretary of Agriculture David Houston to begin Colorado's Extension Service. The new organization, under the direction of President Lory (1914-1915) and later, Hiram T. French (1915-1920), would bring the latest research in horticulture, animal husbandry, home management, and nutrition to adults and children throughout the state, resulting in the Progressive-era ideal of a vocationally-educated populace with a quality of life improved through science.

Shortly after the Cooperative Extension Service was created, World War I broke out in Europe, which would sidetrack Extension's immediate goal of an improved rural life. By 1917, when the U.S. joined the war, Extension had begun to fill the role of community organizer and brought together resources to help citizens "fight" on the home front. "Food will win the war" became a popular slogan, and American farmers were encouraged to drastically increase their output to feed the troops. Essentially, Extension agents worked to bring the war to the local level, a fact that is reflected in many of the earliest annual reports. After the war ended, Extension agents continued to expand their work in peace time, under the direction of Roud McCann (1921-1929).

In the following years, however, the increased output encouraged during WWI would have a negative effect on the American farmer. During the Great Depression, a combination of factors, including overproduction, endangered the American agricultural system. Once again, Extension sought to bring relief to the local level by implementing New Deal strategies and policies, as well as offering revised farming techniques to cope with environmental devastation in Colorado's Great Plains region. Extension agents encouraged the planting of trees as windbreaks, contour farming to prevent erosion, cooperative marketing, and adherence to New Deal programs and incentives. Director F.A. Anderson helmed the organization through these difficult times (1929-1952).

When the U.S. joined World War II in 1941, Extension was once again called to the fore to galvanize the populace on the home front. Agents organized victory gardens, emergency farm labor assignments for farms whose workers had gone off to war, scrap metal and scrap rubber collection, and the formation of county war boards. Home demonstration agents taught women to bake without sugar and to make meals within the constraints of their war rations. 4-H members rotated to different farms in their counties, picking sugar beets, potatoes, melons, and other crops to help bring in the harvest on farms that lacked labor. Extension was instrumental in organizing the war response at the county level.

After WWII ended in 1945, Extension's focus turned back to its original goal of bringing the benefit of university research to rural populations. However, the character of those populations was beginning to shift from a widely agrarian base to more urban in nature. Under James E. Morrison (1952-1958) and the long directorship of Lowell H. Watts (1958-Oct. 1968, Oct. 1969-1982), programs aimed at urban and suburban living were added to Extension's repertoire. This included revised marketing of 4-H programs to children living in cities, complete with new courses to appeal to their needs and interests such as car repair, dog training, and theater.

Since 1982, there have been five Extension directors: John Patrick Jordan (Acting, 1983), Don K. Chadwick (1983-1986), Kenneth R. Bolen (1986-1990), Milan A. Rewerts (1990-2007), and Deborah J. Young (2007- ). Extension continues to evolve to address the changing needs of a shifting populace and a dramatic decline in the number of family farms.


254 linear feet (202 record cartons)

Language of Materials



For nearly a century, the Colorado Cooperative Extension has served as the agricultural and home management outreach arm of Colorado State University, a land-grant institution, by bringing the results of university research to rural populations. The organization has its roots in early farmers' institutes conducted off-campus starting in 1879. The passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914 officially established Extension as a cooperative effort between the USDA, land-grant institutions, and state and local governments. The Extension collection contains annual reports of county agents, specialists, directors, and editors; statistical reports; project specific reports; and files from the office of extension at the university level organized by Colorado Cooperative Extension directors.


The collection is arranged into three main series: annual reports, extension records, and directors' files. The annual report series contains twelve subseries. The county and area subseries are organized first alphabetically by county then chronologically by year. The specialist reports are alphabetical by specialty and then chronologically by year. The other reports are organized chronologically. The Extension records contain four subseries arranged chronologically: budget, personnel, printed material, and press releases. The Directors' files contain seven subseries and are arranged by director.

The collection consists of three series in 202 record cartons:

Series 1: Annual reports, 1912-2000

Subseries 1.1: County annual reports, 1912-2000

Subseries 1.2: Area/Regional reports, 1962-2000

Subseries 1.3: Specialists annual reports, 1914-1984

Subseries 1.4: Directors annual reports, 1916-1987

Subseries 1.5: Directors semi-annual reports, 1922-1969

Subseries 1.6: Assistant Directors annual reports, 1923-1951

Subseries 1.7: Supervisors annual reports, 1935-1961

Subseries 1.8: County Agent Leader annual reports, 1916-1940

Subseries 1.9: Editor/Director Information Service annual reports, 1923-1966

Subseries 1.10: Miscellaneous annual reports, 1940-1974

Subseries 1.11: District Agents annual reports, 1923-1941

Subseries 1.12: Project annual reports, 1962-1969

Series 2: Extension records, 1906-1994 and undated

Subseries 2.1: Budget and fiscal, 1954-1994

Sub-subseries 2.1.1: Plans of work, 1954-1994

Sub-subseries 2.1.2: Summaries, recaps, and reports, 1958-1978

Subseries 2.2: Personnel, 1918-1979

Subseries 2.3: Printed material, 1906-1978

Subseries 2.4: Press releases, 1928-1992

Subseries 2.5: Photographs and slides, 1924-1978 and undated

Subseries 2.6: Audiotapes, 1990-1994

Series 3: Directors' files, 1914-1998

Subseries 3.1: James E. Morrison, 1914-1958

Subseries 3.2: Lowell H. Watts, 1915-1984

Sub-subseries 3.2.1: Conferences, 1960-1982

Sub-subseries 3.2.2: Correspondence, 1957-1981

Sub-subseries 3.2.3: ECOP, 1959-1982

Sub-subseries 3.2.4: Fiscal, 1915-1981

Sub-subseries 3.2.5: Speeches and presentations, 1961-1979

Sub-subseries 3.2.6: Office files, 1935-1984

Subseries 3.3: John Patrick Jordan, 1982-1983

Subseries 3.4: Don K. Chadwick, 1927-1987

Sub-subseries 3.4.1: Office files, 1927-1987

Sub-subseries 3.4.2: Correspondence, 1967-1984

Subseries 3.5: Kenneth R. Bolen, 1969-1991

Subseries 3.6: Milan A. Rewerts, 1968-1998

Sub-subseries 3.6.1: Agreements and MOUs, 1968-1994

Sub-subseries 3.6.2: Planning and reporting, 1977-1998

Sub-subseries 3.6.3: Projects and proposals, 1987-1997

Sub-subseries 3.6.4: Correspondence, 1968-1990


The Records of the Colorado Cooperative Extension was acquired in a series of accessions in the 1980s, as one of the inaugural collections in the Colorado Agricultural Archive. At least one large accession came from the central Extension office on CSU's campus. Others came from county offices and the central 4-H office and were consolidated as an artificial collection. Over the years, the records were used as a teaching collection for CSU public history students under the direction of Dr. James Hansen II.

Online Materials

Some materials have been scanned and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.

Extension materials that may not be included in this physical collection have been digitized and are available in CSU's digitial repository. VIEW

Related Collections

Other collections in the Agricultural and Natural Resources Archive which contain materials related to Cooperative Extension include: Records of the Colorado Homemakers Council, Papers of Glenn E. Wilson, Jr., Records of the Colorado 4-H, Records of the National Western Stock Show, and Records of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station. In addition, the Oral History Tapes collection of the University Archives includes audio recordings and transcripts of interviews conducted in the 1980s with Extension personnel.

Separated Collections

Approximately 23 boxes of reports and materials were separated from the records and added to the Colorado 4-H collection.


The collection was divided into three series: Annual Reports, Extension Records, and Directors' Files. Processing the first series was relatively straightforward. The County and Area/Regional Annual Report subseries were processed extensively due to the nature of the materials within. Many items in the series contained photographs, pamphlets, circulars, clippings, and other ephemera that required stabilization. The following measures were taken to ensure preservation of these materials: acidic items buffered with acid-free paper, paperclips removed, and photographs buffered against glue. Loose photographs were re-housed in plastic sleeves. Many items that had once been attached to a report by glue had since become loose when the glue dried out. These materials were stabilized in acid-free envelopes and labeled with information regarding their original location. The Specialists, Directors, and other annual reports subseries contained fewer pictures, pamphlets, and clippings and received less intensive processing. Paperclips and rubber bands were removed. All reports were re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Duplicates beyond the second identical copy were discarded.

The second series contains records about extension as a unit, but not related to a particular director. The budget reports, publications, and press releases were re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes, but little processing beyond re-housing and chronological arrangement was performed.

The third series, the Directors' Files, was processed according to minimal processing standards. Very few changes were made in arrangement, with the exception of the files from director Lowell Watts, which were arranged into sub-subseries due to the volume of material. Processing the papers from the extension directors included re-housing in acid-free folders and boxes, with a quick glance to verify that folder contents matched the title. Folder titles were supplied if absent, otherwise existing titles were retained. Paperclips, rubber bands, and post-it notes were removed.

Guide to the Records of Colorado Cooperative Extension
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Ashley Large and revised by Clarissa J. Trapp
Copyright 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA