State Board of Agriculture / Board of Trustee records
Scope and Contents
The State Board of Agriculture papers include correspondence, minutes, reports, financial records, legal records and newspaper clippings of the first governing body of the state agriculture college.
The College Lands series includes correspondence, reports, land descriptions, employment records, financial records, minutes, legal documents, and newspaper clippings pertaining to the management of state lands endowed to the college via the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862.
The Board of Trustees records include minutes of meetings, reference materials and supporting documentation for the Board meetings.
The collection includes information of significant campus events including its centennial and sesquiennial celebrations.
The CDs series includes digitized audio recordings.
The Electronic Resources series includes digitized audio recordings and text documents of meeting minutes.
- 1850 - 2018
- Michigan State University. Board of Trustees (Organization)
- Brown, Addison Makepeace, 1859-1931 (Person)
- Johnson, Samuel, 1839-1916 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.
In 1849, the Michigan State Agricultural Society was organized with the objective to "promote the improvement of agriculture and its kindred arts, throughout the State of Michigan." County agricultural societies became auxiliaries of the Michigan State Agricultural Society, and the counties annually submitted reports and abstracts of the activities of the county societies, which were, then, included in the Annual Report of the Legislature. The Society reports were illustrative of the agricultural interests in Michigan at the time of their writing. One objective of the Society was to establish an agricultural college for the state. After several years of promoting this cause, the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan was established by Act 130 of 1855. Once the school was built, the State Board of Education, whose members were appointed by the governor, would direct and supervise the College’s operation. There was also a provision for the Board of Education to consult with the professors and instructors as needed; this group would colloquially be known as the ‘board of instruction’.
In 1861, the Executive Committee of the Michigan State Agricultural Society asked the state legislature to create a state board of agriculture to take over the administration of college operations. This was accomplished with the signing of Act 188 of 1861.
The original State Board of Agriculture was comprised of six members, (David Carpenter, Justus Gage, Philo Parsons, Hezekiah G. Wells, Silas Allen Yerkes, and Charles Rich, Jr.), who were put in place by Act 188. Their first meeting was April 5, 1861. Subsequent members were appointed by the governor. The membership of the State Board of Agriculture was increased to seven in 1905, with that extra member being required to be a resident of state’s upper peninsula.
Michigan’s 1908 constitution (the state’s third) changed the governing body of the college to a constitutional authority, elected by Michigan voters. It also returned the number of board members to six. The State Board of Agriculture elected a president of the college who would have general supervision of the college and its funds. The president would preside at Board meetings but did not have voting rights.
The State Board of Agriculture became the Michigan State University Board of Trustees (BOT) in May, 1959, after a statewide vote approved an amendment to the 1908 state constitution, reflecting the name change. That name change was mirrored in the rewriting of the Michigan Constitution in 1963, along with an increase in the number of board members to eight, with each serving an eight year term.
The State Board of Agriculture Lands papers contain the records which specifically deal with the administration of lands endowed to the college under the provision of the Morrill Federal Land-Grant Act of 1862. This act provided for the apportionment to each state 30,000 acres of public lands per senator or representative in the United States Congress, for the "endowment, support, and maintenance of at least one college." In 1863, the Michigan legislature accepted this grant and bestowed it upon the State Agricultural College which had opened its doors to students in 1857. With the endowment of 240,000 acres of land, the officer of the college believed that the revenues produced from the lands would eventually enable the college to become self-sustaining. The dream was not to be realized. By the turn of the century, only one fourth of the original grant remained. The pine land and better farming areas had all been sold and the land which remained was unsuitable either for agriculture or lumbering. Though the Morrill fund eventually reached one million dollars, the 7% interest rate proved to be inadequate to allow the college to be self-supporting.
Source: -Kuhn, Madison. Michigan State, The First Hundred Years. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1955. -Lansing State Journal, April 5, 1959 -Michigan State University Catalogs. -Michigan Manual.
110.5 Cubic Feet
Language of Materials
The collection is divided into three series.
1. State Board of Agriculture papers, 1855-circa 1900, (35 cubic feet) Correspondence, minutes, reports, financial records, legal records, and newspaper clippings of the first governing body of the state agriculture college. These records primarily concern the establishment and operation of the college from 1855 until the early 1900s.
2. College Land papers, 1883-1922, (1 cubic feet) Correspondence, reports, land descriptions, employment records, financial records, minutes, legal documents, and newspaper clippings pertaining to the management of state lands endowed to the College via the Morrill Federal-Grant Act of 1862.
3. Board of Trustee Meeting records, May 1959-present, (73 cubic feet) Minutes, reference materials, and supporting documentation for the Board Of Trustees meetings.
Materials transferred by Madison Kuhn and the Office of the President.
Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.
- Agricultural colleges
- Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
- Education, Higher -- Michigan
- Federal aid to education -- Michigan
- Land grants -- Michigan
- Letters (correspondence)
- Michigan Agricultural College
- Michigan State College
- Michigan State University
- Michigan State University. Board of Trustees
- Michigan. State Board of Agriculture
- Minutes (Records)
- School lands -- Michigan
- School lands -- United States
- Sound recordings
- Universities and colleges -- Faculty
- World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.)
- State Board of Agriculture / Board of Trustee Records
- 2 Draft Or Revision In Progess
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US