Morrill Act Subject Guide

This subject guide lists a selection of materials available in the Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library which document Iowa State and its relation to the Morrill Act of 1862 and the establishment of land-grant institutions. Please visit the e-Library to locate books and other resources just related to the Morrill Act and the land-grant movement and institutions. For a listing of websites related to the Morrill Act, please visit the LibGuide Morrill Act & Land-Grant Universities. For a selected listing of books related to the Morrill Act and land grant universities in general and how to search for other related books, please visit this LibGuide.

Gue, Benjamin F. Papers, 1852-1962, undated.
Extent: 2.84 linear feet (2 document boxes and 2 oversized boxes).
Number: RS 1/3/52.
Description: Benjamin Gue was born December 25, 1828 on a farm in Green County, New York. Gue came to Iowa when he was 24 and farmed land in Scott County. In 1856, he became a delegate to the State Convention, which formally organized the Republican Party in Iowa. In 1857, he was elected as the Scott County delegate (1858-1862) to the Iowa State House of Representatives, to the Iowa State Senate (1862-1866) and Lieutenant Governor (1866-1868). He was one of the authors of a bill to establish a state agricultural college and model farm (Iowa State University), which Governor Ralph P. Lowe signed the bill into law on March 22, 1858. He also encouraged the Iowa Legislature to accept the Morrill Act of 1862. An influential figure in the development of the College, Gue served as President (1886) of the Board of Trustees for the Iowa Agricultural College. He also wrote a history of the College, Origin and Early History of Iowa State College. The collection contains biographical material about Benjamin F. Gue, the address he gave at the opening of Iowa State (1869), scrapbooks, and his journals.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.

Iowa State University. Land Grant Act Centennial Collection, 1959-1963, undated.
Extent: 0.84 linear feet (2 document boxes).
Number: RS 0/9/3.
Description: The collection contains correspondence, committee material (including ISU Land Grant Centennial Committee), committee minutes, programs, fact book, certificates, publications, convocation material, and news clippings.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Available in Special Collections.

Iowa State University. Land Grant Institutions Collection, 1908-1962.
Extent: 0.42 linear feet (1 document box).
Number: RS 0/9/4.
Description: The collection contains articles and speeches on the Morrill Act and land-grant colleges. Some are by Iowa State faculty and alumni. Authors include William Brewer, Henry S. Brunnier, Oliver C. Carmichael, Wayne D. Rasmussen, Jay Richter, Louis Bernard Schmidt and Carroll Streeter. Speeches include those of Arthur D. Adams, Louis Geiger, Wilbur K. Jordan, J. H. Morrill, Dean Mumford, C. A. Prosser and Paul S. Taylor.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Available in Special Collections.

Iowa State University. Morrill Act Collection, 1858-2002, undated.
Extent: 0.21 linear feet (1 half-document box).
Number: RS 0/9/2.
Description: The collection contains news clippings, copies of addresses delivered to Congress, a brief biography of Justin Morrill, and a 1923 report given to the Iowa legislature showing the benefits the college has given to the state. The 1923 report contains graphs and photographs.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Unavailable.

Welch, Adonijah Strong, 1849-1988.
Extent: 1.05 linear feet (2 document boxes and 1 half-document box)
Number: RS 2/1.
Description: Adonijah Strong Welch served as Iowa State's first president (1869-1883). Welch returned to Iowa State in 1884 as the chair of history of civilization and practical psychology and continued to teach until his death in1889. Welch is credited for a number of successes during his tenure as president, though his most lasting legacy may be the design of Iowa State's early campus. Welch helped develop Iowa State's first courses in agriculture and mechanical arts and supported the right of women to receive a college education. Welch was often asked to address farmers' gatherings, horticultural meetings, and breeders' conventions. His wife, Mary Welch, established the first courses in the domestic sciences, which would later become the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. The collection contains biographical information, correspondence, written addresses, and publications. The speeches and writings often reflect Welch's thoughts on the new land-grant education. The collection is available online (
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.

Selection of secondary resources available in Special Collections (some also available in the General Collection)

Biennial Report of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. Des Moines : G.W. Edwards, State Printer, 1860-1908.
LD2531 Io9r

Democracy's College. 1958, video recording, Ames, Iowa : Iowa State University.
VIDE 007 689
DVD 002 440
Available online:

Gue, Benjamin. Origin and Early History of Iowa State College. Long Island : New York, circa 1891.
LD2543 G934o
Available online:

Iowa and the New Education: The Story of Iowa State College, 1858-1958. Ames, Iowa : Iowa State College, 1958.
LD2543 Io9i

Ross, Earle Dudley. Democracy's College: The Land-Grant Movement in the Formative State. New York : Arno Press, 1969.
LB2330 R733d, 1969

Ross, Earle Dudley. The Land-Grant Idea at Iowa State College: A Centennial Trial Balance, 1858-1958. Ames, Iowa : The Iowa State College Press, 1958.
LD2543 .R733L
Available online:

Schwieder, Dorothy and Gretchen Van Houten (ed.). A Sesquicentennial History of Iowa State University: Tradition and Transformation.  Ames, Iowa : Iowa State University Press, 2007.

LD2547 S47 2007

Sheridan, Allison H., ed., The Land-Grant Act and the People's College. Ames, Iowa : University Museums, Iowa State University, 2011.
LD2547 L36x 2011

Welch, Adonijah Strong. Report on the Organization and Management of Seven Agricultural Schools in Germany, Belgium, and England, made to Hon. George B. Loring, U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture. Washington, D.C. ; United States Government Printing Office, 1885.

S531 .W44

Available online:

Note: Although this publication does not discuss Iowa State, it was written by Iowa State's first president to help further "industrial education" in the United States.