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Perry G. Holden papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 16/3/11

Scope and Content

This collection represents an incomplete but interesting selection of personal materials on Perry Holden. It includes correspondence and letters, unpublished materials, newspaper clippings referring to Holden and his work, addresses given in his gubernatorial race, and duplicate family albums which he compiled during his retirement in Michigan.

The letters range from 1908 to 1958 and deal mainly with his career at Iowa State College; staffing needs, costs of extension, and plans for teaching. Some of the main

correspondents include; Ralph K. Bliss (later Head of ISU Extension), A.B. Storms (University President), and Charles F. Curtiss (Dean of Agriculture). Most of his unpublished writings, as well as the newspaper clippings, address his interests of hybrid corn, extension, and his gubernatorial run in 1912.

The family album containing duplicated images and text offers a unique resource. It includes personal family history, photographs, reminiscences of family members, poetry, copies of awards, certificates of marriage, and degrees. It also contains letters and articles about Perry Holden and his career written by various friends, many of whom were also prominent in agricultural education. Contributors include; Henry A. Wallace, W.H. Smith, E.J. Bodman, A.E. Winship, M.L. Wilson, E.T. Robbins, H.S. Mobley, M.L. Mosher, A.H. Snyder, and the Honorable Bert Cooper. Various newspaper clippings and articles also give biographical information on friends of Perry Holden such as Oscar Herman Benson and R.K. Bliss.


  • Creation: 1906-1967

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Perry Greeley Holden was born in Dodge City, MN on October 13, 1865. After graduating from Michigan Agricultural College in 1895 with a Master of Science degree, he took a job at the University of Illinois as the first Professor of Agronomy in the United States. From 1901-2 he was manager of Funk Bros. Seed Co., helping establish their reputation as purveyors of hybrid seed.

In 1902 he started a ten-year appointment at Iowa State College, initially holding the position of vice-dean of agriculture. In 1906 he became the first director of Iowa extension, eight years before the Smith-Lever Act established a national extension program in 1914. He also established demonstration farms throughout Iowa counties. In 1904 he instituted his "corn gospel trains" which promoted the growth of hybrid corn throughout the state.

In 1912 Perry ran in the Republican primaries for governor of Iowa. After being defeated he took a job as the Agricultural Extension Director with International Harvester Co. in Michigan. Here he worked persuading farmers in America to diversify and engage in scientific agriculture. His special interest was in alleviating the suffering in the South caused by the boll weevil through diversification.

Perry Holden retired in 1932 and helped his wife with her egg business on their Michigan farm. The majority of his personal and business papers were donated to the Michigan State College Library shortly before his death in 1959. These papers are currently held in Michigan State University's Archives and Historical Collections Department.


1.21 Linear Feet (1 half-document box and 1 oversized box)


Digital reproductions of a selection of materials from the Perry G. Holden papers are available electronically. Please see the Electronic Resources section for a link. This digital collection also includes photos from University Photographs and materials from other collections relating to Extension and Outreach.

Items in related collections

RS 16/3. Iowa State University. Cooperative Extension Service in Agriculture and Home Economics records

Related collection materials

For more information on P.G. Holden, see also the ISU Masters thesis by Everett G. Ritland (1941) entitled "The Educational Activities of P.G. Holden in Iowa."

Collection Files

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 16/3/11. Perry G. Holden papers, 1906-1967
May 29, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672