Yesterday, March 13, kicked off Ag Week (March 13-19, 2011), and tomorrow (Tuesday, March 15) National Agriculture Day will be celebrated. National Ag Day, and Ag Week, celebrates American agriculture and increases public awareness of agriculture and the role that agricultural producers play in producing and delivering food to the American public. The day and week is celebrated both at the local and national level. Agriculture and rural life are two of our main collecting areas here in the Special Collections Department, and we are lucky to hold the records of National Agriculture Day. The collection documents the first ten years of the celebration when it was run and sponsored by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA).
How did Ag Day begin? The collection contains materials which document the formation of Ag Day, including efforts to make it a national holiday. Miller Publishing Company, based in Minneapolis and at that time a major publisher of agriculture related materials, spearheaded the formation of Ag Day. In fact, the the company celebrated the first Ag Day by declaring it a holiday for all Miller employees. During its second year, Iowa’s own then governor Robert D. Ray declared Mary 25, 1974 as Iowa Agriculture Day with the theme Farm to Food. For more on Ag Day’s history, you can read the historical note to the collection’s finding aid, visit Ag Day’s website, or come to the Special Collections Department and see what is in the collection!
An early publicity photograph from a 1974 Ag Day activity at Clyde Rumpza farm in Watertown, Minnesota. Mayor Hofstede is shown shoveling feed (photograph from National Agriculture Day Records, box 9, folder 11).
The collection includes records documenting the formation of Ag Day during its very early years, including handwritten notes by David Bennett (organizer and first Chairperson). The notes include who he contacted (including legislators), presentation notes, and ideas about looking into having NAMA (then NAAMA) in charge of the day. The collection also includes promotional items and advertisements for Ag Day and agriculture in general. In addition to documenting the activities of Ag Day during its first ten years, the collection might also be an interesting way to study the different ways agriculture was marketed and promoted during that time period. In addition to the materials listed above, the records include correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, resolutions, news releases, news clippings, promotional materials (annual logos, brochures, advertisements), newsletters, lesson plans and education kits, fact sheets, national and chapter reports on Ag Day activities, and photographs.
A selection of 1975 Ag Day publicity materials, some of which can be found within the collection (photograph from box 9, folder 15).
To find out more about Ag Day’s first ten years…take a look at our finding aid describing the contents of the collection, and come visit us here in the Special Collections Department. If you would like to find out how Ag Day is being celebrated this year, check out their website or blog. In fact, last Monday’s blog post was written by an Iowa State student!