Friday, September 28, 2012

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #126

Experiment Station Building (Scovell Hall)
The Kentucky Agriculture Experiment Station was established in Fayette County in September 1885, after President James Patterson and two Board of Trustees members attended a meeting in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in which representatives from state agricultural colleges discussed the need for scientific, experimental, and agricultural research. Roughly a dozen other state colleges had established experiment stations as part of their agriculture departments and Patterson urged that Kentucky follow suit. This trend preceded the official legislation passed by Congress in 1887, known as the Hatch Act, which called for every state to establish agriculture experiment stations associated with the state agricultural college, and provided federal funding for those experiment stations. Following this act, the experiment station became officially and legally known as the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station, federally funded, controlled by the state of Kentucky, and housed in the University of Kentucky Agriculture department.
Old seed laboratory general view of workers at the Experiment Station Building
 Less than a year after the experiment station was established, the Kentucky General Assembly enacted a law regulating the properties of fertilizers to be sold in the state, making the Experiment Station responsible for the analysis and labeling of the approved products. This was the first regulatory activity assigned to the Agricultural Experiment Station, but more responsibility would follow as other regulations were passed, so that by 1918, the Experiment Station was regulating fertilizers, livestock feed, seeds, nursery products, as well as foods and drugs.

Tobacco wagon at the Experiment Farm. 1899
Through its involvement with regulation, and also through the publication of bulletins explaining the results of research, the Experiment Station began to gain the trust and respect of farmers throughout the state. This relationship continued to develop and be maintained through the Experiment Station's involvement and partnership with the Kentucky Cooperative Extension service that operated at the county level.

Insectary at the Experiment Farm. 11/2/1908
 In 1910, the Experiment Station became part of the newly formed College of Agriculture of the University of Kentucky, being designated as the department for research and graduate work. The College of Agriculture also contained the Department of Agriculture, the teaching and undergraduate area, and the Department of Extension Work, the precursor to the Cooperative Extension Service. At its establishment, the Agricultural Experiment Station was given twelve acres at the edge of the campus to use as a research farm. When that land proved insufficient, the Experiment Station began purchasing additional land adjacent to the campus, growing to 230 acres by 1908 and approximately 580 acres by 1930.
 Also, the Experiment Station expanded into other parts of the state, obtaining two "substations" in 1925, one in Breathitt County in eastern Kentucky, and the other in Caldwell County in western Kentucky. A 600 acre farm in Owen County was obtained in 1955. Although most of the original farmland located next to the campus has been transformed into buildings, dormitories, and a football stadium, the Experiment Station continues to research on several farms in Fayette County, as well as the locations in Breathitt, Caldwell, and Owen counties, and a facility in Woodford County obtained in 1991.
Strawberry pickers at Boxwell Fox's place in Winchester. 4/24/1905
 Since its establishment, the Agricultural Experiment Station has researched ways to improve crops, prevent diseases in both livestock and plants, and analyze and improve soils across the state. During times of crisis, such as World Wars I and II and the Great Depression, Experiment Station research was essential to increasing food production and ensuring the survival of farmers and farms statewide.
June bug injury, grape. 8/5/1896
Additionally, the Experiment Station partnered with the U.S. Army Medical Corps and government organizations such as the TVA to provide research and technical advice and instruction. Over the years, tobacco research was and continues to be a major area of investigation for the Experiment Station. Today, other research areas include agribusiness, international trade, food processing, nutrition, community development, and the environment.

The reports may be researched on

The Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station (KAES) has been providing research results to farmers and residents for more than 130 years. With external grants and contracts now reaching over $31,000,000 a year, UK’s College of Agriculture researchers address problems of agribusiness, consumers, international trade, food processing, nutrition, community development, soil and water resources, and the environment with over 300 externally funded projects. The research continuum reaches from basic to applied science, with new fundamental knowledge as well as applied knowledge that has impacts on the lives of Kentuckians and people across the world.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #127

Women’s basketball was established on the University of Kentucky campus in 1902.  Making the 1902-03 women’s basketball team the first of either sex at the then called State College to play a full intercollegiate schedule.

At State College, there was no place to play basketball until Barker Hall was built. Even then, basketball was not a spectator sport for the simple reason that the gym could not accommodate more than those who could stand around the floor of the balcony, which was also the running track.  From 1903 on, the men shared the gym with the women.

Old gymnasium in Barker Hall, circa 1901
Women’s basketball was taken quite seriously by the women themselves, but not, it seems, by the men students. According to Hail Kentucky by Helen Deiss Irvin,  A “Kentuckian” of 1904 reports a game as one vast tide of straight hair, stray hair, curls and ribbons reversed and cries of ‘Here Rebekah,’ and ‘Oh, Gemima, how could you?’”  That same year one Herman Scholtz disguised himself as a girl and went to Georgetown with the coeds, obviously with their connivance.  There he watched a spirited contest forbidden to male spectators.  He had to be punished, but the faculty was at a loss.  Although there were more than 180 specific rules, nobody had ever thought to include one against dressing up as a girl.  Scholtz got a general reprimand. 

Women's basketball team, Kentucky State College, 1903.  Photo shows the Women’s Basketball team of 1902-03, made up of Miriam Nave, Alice Pence, Nell Norwood, Fanny Redd, Amanda Maull, Helen Jaeger, Willie Spier, Jimmie Offutt and Mary E. Clarke.  They were coached by Jane Todd Watson.
For the first few years of its existence on UK's campus, the women's basketball team mostly played inter-class scrimmages, only playing one or two intercollegiate games per season. All games were carefully monitored by Florence Offutt Stout, the women's physical education director and first Dean of Women, and no spectators were allowed.  Stout was a proponent of "medical gymnastics," a more gentle form of physical exercise targeted at promoting physical health and eliminating obesity, and considered competitive sports at odds with this program.

Kentucky women's basketball team, 1921, with student coach Sarah Blanding
 In 1909, the women's basketball team complained via a petition to the faculty senate stating that Stout did not support the development of the sport and asked that the athletic association take over the management of the team. This started a power struggle which stretched over almost two decades among Stout, women students in favor of the sport, and the athletic association.  In 1924, bolstered by the support of Sarah Blanding -- the new Dean of Women -- Stout finally convinced the University Senate and UK President Frank McVey that basketball was "too strenuous for girls." McVey cited this "strenuousity" and the claim that road trips for the team were prohibitively expensive due to "the necessity of proper chaperonage" as reasons for banning women's basketball. This was in spite of the fact that the 1923-1924 women's team had won the Southern Intercollegiate Championship after an undefeated 10-0 season. All women's intercollegiate varsity sports were discontinued on November 13, 1924. Ironically, the 1924-1925 season marked the first season of men's basketball play in Alumni Gym and a rise of popularity in the game on campus.

In the next decades, women's basketball continued to be played in physical education classes, and later as an intramural sport, but organizing campus dances became the primary focus of the Women's Athletic Association. It was not until 1974 that women's basketball was reinstated as a varsity sport, with Sue Feamster serving as the first coach of a varsity team in fifty years.

Gregory Kent Stanley has written a fuller account of the early years of women's basketball and the campus politics affecting it in his book Before Big Blue. UK Athletics offers a historic timeline of women's basketball achievements on its website under "History and records."