Brief History of Land Grant Institutions

So, in an effort to try and study some stuff, I wrote this little thing up to help me out.  Behold, the madness in my method.

Prior to the establishment of the first Morrill Act (1862), colleges were typically private institutions which catered to the rich and provided education in the Liberal Arts (Literature, History, Language Arts) as well as Mathematics and some sciences.  However, the teachings of these topics were not accessible to the average American.  The Morrill Act was meant to provide education of more practical and every-day applicability to the average citizen.

The second Morrill Act (1890) extended additional endowments for all of the land-grants.  However, states which had discriminatory policies regarding race would not receive any funding; unless there were separate institutions for black Americans.  The “1890-Land-Grants” were located in the then-segregated Southern states; the most famous of which is likely Tuskegee University home to George Washington Carver.  One hundred and four years later the “1994-Land-Grants” established twenty-nine Native American tribal colleges.

Both the 1862 and 1890 Morrill Acts set aside federal land for state use for the establishment of colleges and universities. The teaching of agriculture, military tactics and mechanic arts in addition to the classical topics was the focus of these first colleges.  These early colleges were often designated Agricultural & Mechanical Arts colleges (A & M’s).  The Ohio State University used to be the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College.

In an effort to further our understanding and advancement of agricultural practices, the Hatch Act of 1887 established funding for agricultural experiment stations associated with each Land-Grant Institution.  However, it was not enough to formulate this information for use within the institutions themselves.  The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established the Extension Service associated with the LGI’s in order to disseminate the information obtained to the community.

Currently the USDA plays a significant role in the administration of LGI funds and coordinating agricultural Land-Grant activities.  Land Grant Institutions still play a major part in the advancement of agricultural, engineering, ecological and other fields.

For a good summary of the history and how funding works, check out the Washington State University linked here:


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