The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983

The University of Texas Extension Services
and Progressivism
LARRY D. HILL and ROBERT A. CALVERT*
THE EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS EXTENSION
service was in many respects a reflection of the progressive impulse
that swept the nation in the first two decades of the twentieth century.
The progressive impact on education, however much it has come to be
associated with public primary and secondary schools, produced equal-
ly significant changes in public colleges and universities. Progressives
accepted as axiomatic the Jeffersonian proposition that mass education
produced a more responsible citizenry. They sought through the pub-
lic schools to teach Americans common values, the merits of participa-
tory democracy, and useful vocational skills. They feared, though, that
colleges could well become elitist, having little relationship to the peo-
ple either as a repository of knowledge or as a general educator of all
the citizens. Progressives sought, therefore, to create what they consid-
ered to be truly citizens' colleges, open to all of sufficient intellect, on
financial terms manageable even for the lower classes. For many, a pos-
sible way to reach everyone-the old and the young, the rich and the
poor-lay in some sort of outreach program, a university extension
service.'
Extension education did not originate in the Progressive era. Im-
plicit within the Morrill Land-Grant College Act of 1862 was the con-
cept of extension work. During the late nineteenth century, farmers'
organizations, such as the Patrons of Husbandry (the Grange), lobbied
the land-grant colleges, demanding experimental farms and other ex-
* Larry D. Hill and Robert A. Calvert are associate professors of history at Texas A&M
University and coeditors of the Southwestern Studies series published by Texas A&M
University Press. The authors gratefully acknowledge the research assistance provided by
Texas A&M University and the Texas State Historical Association for this article.
1Lawrence A. Cremin, The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American
Education, 1876-1957 (New York, 1961), 161-168; Merle Curti, The Social Ideas of Ameri-
can Educators, with New Chapter on the Last Twenty-five Years (Paterson, N.J., 1965),
212-218; Lawrence R. Veysey, The Emergence of the American University (New York,
1965), 61-73, 107-108, 113-i20. In spite of avowed nonelitism, progressivist extension ser-
vices for many years generally did not encompass black schools.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/. Accessed August 1, 2014.