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Edward J. Wickson's Quiet Voice for Change: The Origins of California's Secondary Agricultural Education Curriculum in the Early Twentieth Century


This study examines Edward J. Wickson's involvement in the origins of California's secondary agricultural education curriculum. Wickson held a variety of positions in the College of Agriculture at the University of California from 1876 through 1915. Additionally, he was the editor of the Pacific Rural Press, an influential publication popular in the agricultural community. During this same time period, agricultural education in California's secondary schools took root and spread rapidly. Within eleven years, agricultural education grew from non-existence in California's high schools to being included in nearly one-third of them.

The purpose of this study is to understand the socio-historical context of the tension between California's academic and agricultural communities and Wickson's involvement in mediating this conflict, while quietly advancing his educational agenda. Additionally, this study explores the various changes in the agricultural education curriculum within California's educational institutions prior to the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917. By investigating the origins of agricultural education within California's secondary schools, this study offers a portrayal of the rural community during a period of tension and transition and an agricultural education community that struggled with self-identity during the early twentieth century. The data for this study includes a variety of primary sources, including personal correspondence, local and national newspaper articles, secondary agricultural education textbooks, and California's Agricultural Experiment Station bulletins.

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