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portrait photograph of Elsa Peterson

Elsa Peterson

Elsa Peterson, 1880s. Oleson Portrait Studio, Minneapolis.

portrait photograph of Peterson

Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson, 1880s. Oleson Portrait Studio, Minneapolis.

Farmers gathered for group photograph in Kerkhoven, Minnesota.

Farmers Institute, Kerkhoven

Farmers' Institute, Kerkhoven, Minnesota, in Swift County, 1913.

Black and white photograph of Oren C. Gregg, c.1905.

Oren Cornelius Gregg of Lynd. Superintendent of the Farmers Institute and Lyon County Auditor for 10 years.

Oren C. Gregg, superintendent of the Farmers' Institute, and Lyon County auditor for ten years, c.1905. Photograph by James A. Brush.

Crowd gathering outside for Farmers' Institute meeting in Badger, Minnesota.

Farmers Institute at Badger, Minnesota.

Farmers' Institute at Badger, Minnesota, in Roseau County, June 9, 1904.

Farmers' Institutes, 1880s–1920s

In the 1880s, Minnesota farmers saw the need for education but resisted "book farming," or learning how to farm by reading instructional text. Farmers' institutes, lecture series that traveled to rural communities and taught practical farming skills, were popular alternatives in the 1880s through the 1920s.

photograph of several individuals standing in front of a field of young trees

Alvin C. Rose "tree claim," Deuel County, South Dakota.

Estelline, Dakota Territory. Members of the Andrew F. Rose family gatherered on the Alvin C. Rose farm, c.1880s.

photograph depicting a road through a grove of trees

A good tree claim in Lyon County

A good tree claim in Lyon County, c.1900.

The Timber Culture Act of 1873

When Congress enacted the Timber Culture Act of 1873, many hoped that giving settlers deed to public lands in return for growing trees would reshape the environment of the West. However, legal loopholes meant that most of the tree claims filed under the Timber Culture Act were never planted with trees. Fraudulent claims and wild speculation meant that the act was repealed less than twenty years after it was enacted.

Poster advertising the Farmers' Holiday Association including a photograph of marchers

Farmer's Holiday

Farmer's Holiday Association poster featuring a photograph of Grant County farmers marching to the State Capitol, c.1935.

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