The Silos & Smokestacks Extension project is progressing well – it’s really starting to take shape now. Most of the final selections have been made for the collection, and the materials were recently digitized and formatted for the digital exhibit. I even got to do the preservation treatments, which was even more fun than I’d hoped it would be. Digging through boxes and finding the highlights has been an engaging process, but I’m also excited to see it start to come together as a tangible item.
The collection will be composed of various reports, photographs, personal reflections, and a large handful of rather unique items. I wanted to be able to capture the early Extension work from several perspectives – the farmers’ and administration specifically. One of my favorites is a set of notes, handwritten by Ralph K. Bliss for several of the short courses he led. His specialties included the care of livestock (swine, cattle, sheep, and horses), as well as the proper judgment of these animals when presented in show. Farmers in these short courses would have looked to this content and instruction for guidance, whether they had a desire to learn which grains were best to feed the horses or the characteristics that determined the best animal in a group.
The notes outline the courses as Bliss would have taught them, but they also provide insight to the time period and the work that was being done by the College. Information that is now common knowledge (or at least easily Googled) would not have been at the time. The notes not only show a stage in the evolution of agricultural progress, but they also serve as a reminder that the wide dispersal of information used to be even more of a luxury than it is now.
I hope this snippet of insight has generated some excitement! Another update will be coming soon.