Project History

Part of our link to rural America lives in the memoirs and transactions of early agricultural societies, almanacs, extension service publications, dissertations, theses, archives, photographs, oral histories, and periodicals. Many of these older materials are fragile. They need to be identified and preserved.

As part of the United States Agricultural Information Network (USAIN) Preservation Initiative, Colorado joins several other states in identifying its agriculture and rural life literature from the period of 1820-1945. The goal of the project is to create a bibliography which will facilitate access to research materials on the topics of agriculture, human ecology, rural life, ranching, farming, and related areas. The project is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in cooperation with the Cornell University Preserving the History of United States Agriculture and Rural Life Project.

Twenty five states have participated so far, and hopefully the project will continue to grow and encompass similar literature from all 50 states.

1900's Mesa County Fair Postcard (Loyd Files Research Library, Museum of Western Colorado, 1999, 4 #1)
1900's Mesa County Fair Postcard
(Loyd Files Research Library, Museum of Western Colorado, 1999, 4 #1)

This NEH grant has also been designated as a "We the People" project and is being supported in part by funds that NEH set aside for this special initiative. The goal of "We the People" initiative is to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture through the support of projects that explore significant events and themes in our nation's history and culture and that advance knowledge of the principles that define America.

The United States Agricultural Information Network (USAIN) established the National Program for the Preservation of Agricultural Literature in 1996. The preservation of the literature was envisioned to be a cooperative effort of land-grant libraries and the National Agricultural Library. Cornell University's Mann Library had already undertaken to preserve the core national literature, i.e., the most essential scholarly books and journals published pre 1945. This core was identified using both qualitaive and quantitative methods of evaluation, including ranking of titles by over 600 scholars around the world. The bibliographies of the selected titles are presented in a series of seven volumes, The Literature of the Agricultural Sciences (Cornell University Press). The Core Historical Literature of Agriculture (CHLA) http://chla.library.cornell.edu/ is a core electronic collection of agricultural texts published between the early nineteenth century and the middle to late twentieth century.

While Cornell took the lead in identifying core material of national significance, state and locally-significant publications also need attention. In 2004, Colorado joined Maryland, Oklahoma and Washington in Phase 5 of the Preserving the History of United States Agriculture and Rural Life Project. This project, managed by Cornell University on behalf of the United States Agriculture Information Network (USAIN), calls for each state to take responsibility for preserving its own state and locally-significant literature.

The NEH sponsored project, with support from land-grant college libraries, focuses on monographs, serials, dissertations, and theses of state-level significance. This particular project aims to identify materials that have not already been preserved. An over-arching national preservation plan specifies who is responsible for preservation of each category of literature:

National Preservation Plan

Category of Literature Party Responsible for Preserving
Core Historical Literature Cornell University’s Mann Library
Federal Documents National Agricultural Library
Popular and Trade Journals University-based initiatives
Pre-1862 monographs and serials National Agricultural Library
Unique Collections Local initiatives
Archives and Manuscript Materials Local initiatives
Non-print Collections/ AV Materials Local initiatives
Newspapers
US Newspaper Program