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Category: Professors (page 1 of 14)

A Passage to India: Diary documents professor’s contributions to agriculture programs on subcontinent

Written by Christina Holmes

In September 1955, a team of four faculty members from The Ohio State University’s College of Agriculture travelled to India. The purpose of their trip was to aid in establishing and maintaining an agricultural education system in remote areas. As a joint venture between the university and the International Cooperation Administration – now the United States Agency for International Development – the Ohio State team’s objective was to assist in the establishment of agricultural universities in the states and territories of Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, and to provide them with the capacity to plan and administer statewide programs in agricultural teaching, research, and extension education.[1] The team from Ohio State included Prof. Thomas Sutton, assistant dean of the College of Agriculture; Prof. Everett L. Dakan, the Department of Poultry Husbandry; Prof. Charles L. Blackman, Department of Dairy Science; and Prof. Jacob B. Schmidt, Department of Rural Sociology.[2] The team was based out of the Government College of Agriculture in Ludhiana, Punjab.

Chandgurgh school faculty
viewing a corn field, 1956

Professor Schmidt recorded his experience in India between April 1956 and August 1957 in a series of diaries that his family recently donated to the University Archives. In addition to Prof. Schmidt’s diaries, also acquired (was) is the diary of his wife, Lorene Schmidt, dated between September 1955 and January 1956. Combined, the three diaries provide valuable insight on the trials and tribulations of the agricultural program, as well a peek into the inner thoughts of Prof. and Mrs. Schmidt. Mrs. Schmidt’s diary also includes detailed accounts on the couple’s travels on their way to India.

Professor Schmidt and his wife, Lorene, 1957

Professor and Mrs. Schmidt left Ohio on September 22, 1955, and made numerous stops along the way that included brief stays in New York, London, Paris, and Rome before arriving in Bombay on October 6. Mrs. Schmidt’s diary includes complaints regarding missing hotel reservations, reviews for superior and inadequate restaurant fare, weather reports, and details of their tourist excursions. It becomes evident at one point that Mrs. Schmidt had become tiresome of sightseeing.  On October 15, 1955, she wrote, “Took 2 taxis over to TCM – from there went on a tour of 7 cities in and around New Delhi & Old D. A lot of ruins. Have seen so many am getting tired of it.” Mrs. Schmidt also never failed to include even the most insignificant of details. For example, on October 5, 1955, she wrote that a small box of Tide detergent cost $1.00 in Rome and that she did not purchase it.

An exhibit for insect control, 1956

Professor Schmidt’s diaries, however, tell a different story than that of his wife’s. Although he was also meticulous with his inclusion of miniscule details – such as whom he received letters from on a particular day, or what he had for each meal – it becomes clear that he felt as though he was fighting an uphill battle when it came to his objective in India: “After all these less than 2 years in India cannot be counted too long as measured by a life time. Yet, there is a hauntingly empty feeling that I have not nearly achieved fulfillment of mission in India. Only sporadically have I felt that my efforts have been productive and fruitful.” Faced with unfamiliar roadblocks, such as religious and cultural differences, lack of supplies, government involvement, and student attendance (or lack thereof), Schmidt’s hands were often tied and his frustrations were frequently expressed through his writing.  On July 2, 1957, 36 days prior to his departure from India, he wrote, “More than halfway through another year. This time in India has not added an unalloyed richness to a productive life. In fact, the frustrations and inconveniences, if not hardships (for an older person) have more often than not been the center of thinking. This is bad, but it is true.”

Chandgurgh school faculty
in a corn hybrid field, 1956

Although Professor Schmidt only spent two years in India, the joint project between The Ohio State University and USAID continued long after his departure. In October 1961 the local government in the state of Punjab passed legislation to establish the Punjab Agricultural University, with assistance from OSU team members.[3]  Professor Schmidt may have felt that his time spent in India was fruitless, but it paved the way for a series of comprehensive improvements in the years that followed in the Punjab state. By 1964, the end of the initial nine-year regional contract, Ohio State team members helped to develop new university courses and youth programs, introduced new equipment and teaching methods, provided advanced training for 102 Indians in the U.S., and helped develop agricultural curricula, including a Master’s degree program in Farm Management at Punjab Agricultural University.[4]

Agriculture Extension Sign
at the OSU Office in India, 1957

In his last diary entry on December 31, 1957, Professor Schmidt wrote, “Of mother it was said it is good to be great, but it is greater to be good. So may it be said of me.” Although he left India without feeling any sense of great accomplishment, it was his consistent effort, dedication, and time spent attempting to enrich the lives of others that established Professor Schmidt’s true goodness. Professor Schmidt passed away in April 1965, and therefore never knew the totality of the extensive agricultural advances in India he helped pioneer. However, may it be said that his time spent in India was not as wasteful as he believed, but rather contributed to the overall success of the agricultural program in which he partook.

[1] AID-University Rural Development Contracts: 1951-1966 (Urbana, Illinois), June 1968; 59.

[2] “India’s Agriculture Gets Help,” Ohio State Lantern (Columbus, Ohio), October 10, 1956.

[3] Terminal Report: USAID Contract /Nesa-14. November 1, 1964-June 30, 1973; 15.

[4] Terminal Report: USAID Contract /Nesa-14. November 1, 1964-June 30, 1973; 18-19

100 years in the making…Centennial Histories now online

As part of our ongoing effort to digitize highly used material, the departmental Centennial Histories have recently been uploaded to the Knowledge Bank for public use.  To access the histories visit our website, where they are organized alphabetically.

The University celebrated its Centennial in 1970 with a slew of events and ceremonies.  One of the longest lasting legacies of this celebration is the departmental histories, which preserve individual, detail accounts of the emergence Cent.Histand growth of departments.  The centennial histories followed the general theme of the Centennial project:  “to assess [the] first 100 years and utilize this heritage as a foundation for building an even greater institution.”  Before this period of time, little information was collected about the history of departments.

The idea stemmed from secretary of the  Board of Trustees, Edward Moulton and was coordinated by John T. Mount.  The plan was for departments to compile their own histories following prescribed guidelines.  Once finished these histories would sit in both the University Archives and in the general library collection.

To preserve important knowledge, departments had an outline that needed to fulfill four major pillars: Founding and Early Development, the Mature Years (progress within department), Current Status and Future Plans, and Appendix (includes lists of deans, chairs, and publications).  Along with the outline, departments received a page of sources to consult during this process.  These sources included both primary sources, such as the minutes from the Board of Trustees and annual reports, and secondary cake1970sources, including histories of the University in general.

The centennial history writers were current departmental staff, faculty or emeritus faculty.  The writers had an original deadline of July 1, 1969, but it was later extended to late December 1969.  The final product was submitted to the then-University Archivist, William Vollmar.

More than 130 histories were submitted and are in use today.  They range in size from a few pages to hundreds of pages.  Centennial histories are a highly useful research tool for information about departmental formation, faculty members, deans and even prominent students.  The histories collectively combine primary sources into a single source for research.

View the requirements for departments and the selected bibliography.

To see photos from our first 100 years, visit our Flickr page.

Orton Hall Chimes have struck the right chord with Buckeyes for 100 years

Orton Hall Bell Tower, 1995For 100 years, students making their way across the Oval have been serenaded by the Orton Hall Chimes – 12 bells that have become an integral part of the OSU experience for many in the University community. They were delivered to OSU on Feb. 11, 1915, after the classes of 1906, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’13, and ’14 banded together to purchase the bells for roughly $8,000. (The class of 1912, apparently a group of nonconformists, decided to donate a mantel piece to the Main Library).

The dozen bells, together weighing roughly 7 ½ tons and all tuned in D flat, were installed over the following weeks. According to a “Contract for Chimes” signed by the Board of Trustees with the manufacturer, the McShane Co., the bells were to be made out of Lake Superior copper (about three-quarters) and imported East India block tin, and they were guaranteed not to crack. At Commencement that year, the Chimes were officially dedicated, and also that year, a new organization called “The Chimes Club” formed to take charge of playing melodies at 11:50 a.m. and 4:50 p.m. daily. Chemistry Professor W.L. Evans noted at the time that it was “expected that the advent of the chimes will create a new interest in college music at OSU.”

Orton Chimes before installation, 1915

Orton Chimes before installation, 1915

A few years later, the classes of 1919 and 1920 purchased an automatic striker for the bells to mark the time of day, and by 1949, the bells were renovated and an electric clock device was installed so the Chimes would ring on the quarter hour and the full Westminster Quarters melody would play at the full hour.

Allen McManigal, 1920s

Allen McManigal, 1920s

Meanwhile, the twice-daily serenades were still done by hand. Four faculty members – including Evans – traded the duty of climbing the 80-some steps twice a day to play the serenades in the Chimes’ early history. Later, an engineering drawing professor, Allen McManigal, took charge of the Chimes, playing them himself or supervising music students to do so. His direction continued for more than 25 years until his death in 1950; later, Music Professor Wilbur Held, an organ music specialist, supervised students. In the 1960s, these students, called Chimes Masters, were paid $25 a week for the responsibility of making it to the top of the tower in time to play such songs as “June is Busting Out All Over” on especially dreary or snowy days. In addition, “Carmen Ohio” was played during the football season, as well as carols during the holidays.

After roughly 60 years of ringing, the chimes needed a little tune-up, so the Class of 1978, in conjunction with OSU, made a $28,000 repair to the bells in 1985. A year later, a more modern electrical system was installed to automate the serenades as well, although an electric keyboard also was installed, making it much easier and less laborious to play by hand.

Orton Hall bells, 1985By 2003, two new bells were installed, this time chiming at G sharp and A sharp. This $12,000 addition enabled the Chimes Masters to have much more a variety in songs to play, which was often a complaint made by students over the years. These new notes could now play songs like “America the Beautiful” and “The Buckeye Battle Cry.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, the Ohio Staters, Inc., will host a 100th-anniversary celebration event at Orton Hall from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will feature remarks by President Drake, refreshments, a display of related artifacts and tours of the tower. For more information go to the Staters’ Facebook page.

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