HST296E: Rural Life in the US, Prof. Dona Brown

Assignment 2: Magazines and Government Publications

School Journal and Vermont Agriculturist, Vol 1-3, 1947-50

"This paper is devoted, it will be noticed, partly to Education (more particularly Common School Education) and partly to Agriculture and Domestic Economy. By uniting these two great interests, or rather by presenting them together in what is among us their natural union, the paper commends itself to every citizen and to every fireside." (Vol 1, No. 1, p. 1)

According to George G. Bush (Bush, George Gary History of Education in Vermont. United States Bureau of Education Circular of Information No. 4, 1900) "great apathy was still shown in the support of schools, [which] arose from a lack of confidence in the common schools as they were then conducted."  In the opening editorial of the first edition of the School Journal and Vermont Agriculturalist the editor calls upon the people of Vermont to support the Common School system. He also claims that "as agriculture is of course improved with the increase of intelligence among those devoted to it, it follows that the better education of our children is the surest way to secure the permanent improvement of our farms and increase of our agricultural products and wealth." 

The 16 page monthly journal, published between 1847 and 1850,  attempts to provide a balance between these two areas. The education section includes advice for teachers, problems and puzzles (usually on agricultural themes), and reports on other States' educational practices. The agricultural section contains advice on a variety of pertinent farm topics such as wheat cultivation and harvest, production of superior manure, and care of livestock and poultry. Crops, livestock, and production of consumables representative of mid-19th New England agriculture are especially well represented with articles on such topics as care of fruit trees, butter making, cheese-making and wool production. Like other agricultural journals (ex. American Agriculturist and the Green Mountain Farmer), it also includes news of local, national and occasionally international, market prices. Letters to the editor and a monthly section on domestic economy with recipes and household hints round out the journal.

As suggested in an article in the American Agriculturist of 1863, this combination of education and agriculture reflects an understanding that would find expression as the Morrill Act establishing the Land Grant university system, where "the opening of so many colleges where agriculture is taught, both as an art and as a science, [and] will present a new field, and induce our young practical farmers to educate themselves to fill places in them as instructors." (p. 238) Subsequent generations would extend that expression with a second Morrill Act (1890) and establish practice by experts through creation of agricultural experimental stations (Hatch Act, 1887). Vermonters would continue to argue the degree to which education or experience, scientific or systematic practice, should dominate agriculture, but this mid-century journal provides a look at the germination of this education/agriculture hybrid.