Scott County Farmer’s Institute Collection

Scott County Farmer’s Institute was organized on February 13, 1896, in Eldridge, Iowa by a group of local men interested in supporting and disseminating “practical and Scientific knowledge pretaining [sic] to agriculture in all its various branches” to farmers in Scott County. The Institute was open to any farmer living in Scott County.  In keeping with their constitution, the Institute planned at least one two-day institute each year where new farming knowledge and techniques were disseminated in the first months of the year, plus an annual meeting held on the first Saturday of October in Eldridge.

Farmer’s Institutes sprouted up across the agricultural belt to advocate, educate, and guide the efforts of the farmers.

Constitution of the Scott County Farmer’s Institute.
The first Farmer’s Institute was held on March 5-6, 1896.

We received this collection of Scott County Farmer’s Institute materials from the Scott County Library System. The collection dates from 1896-1957. It features meeting minutes, programs from their annual meetings, and accounting ledgers. We also have a few newspaper articles about their annual institute and other activities of the group. These materials demonstrate the importance of agricultural work in Scott County.

Throughout the years, the Institute offered many different opportunities to all Scott County residents who were interested in agriculture and its related branches. The topics consisted of dairy farming, stock farming, horses, poultry raising, and fruit and vegetable growing. But as the Institute progressed, the topics evolved to include discussing how to improve country schools and bee husbandry. Women and children were encouraged to take part in the educational and festivities at the institute and throughout the year. Women participated in contests in the culinary arts highlighting butter, bread, and cakes as well as crafts and fine arts such as embroidery and sewing. Children across the county participated in a spelling contest after being selected from the trials that were held in every township.

After many years of successful meetings and institutes, the Scott County Farmer’s Institute decided to dissolve in 1954. The Farmer’s Institute helped to shape the industry of agriculture, organizations like 4-H, and our state and county fairs. The legacy of this organization can be explored through these volumes.

(posted by Kathryn.)

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