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Harvard. Agricultural economics, undergraduate/graduate. Carver, 1914-1915



This course on agricultural economics taught at Harvard during the first term of the 1914-15 academic year by Thomas Nixon Carver  was open for both undergraduate and graduate students. During the second term Carver taught a graduate course on agricultural economics focussing on American agriculture. The course announcement, enrollment figures, and the final examination questions come from three different sources, all of which are available on-line. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting corresponding material from the twenty economics courses offered during the 1914-15 year for which the final examination questions had been printed and subsequently published.

Carver’s autobiography Reflections of an Unplanned Life (1949) can be read online at the website.


Course Announcement

Economics 9. Economics of Agriculture. Half-course (first half-year). Mon., Wed., and (at the pleasure of the instructor) Fri., at 10. Professor CARVER.

A study of the relation of agriculture to the whole industrial system, the relative importance of rural and urban economics, the conditions of rural life in different parts of the United States, the forms of land tenure and methods of rent payment, the comparative merits of large and small holdings, the status and wages of farm labor, the influence of farm machinery, farmers’ organizations, the marketing and distribution of farm products, agricultural credit, the policy of the government toward agriculture, and the probable future of American agriculture. [p. 66]

Source: Division of History, Government, and Economics 1914-15. Official Register of Harvard University, Vol. XI, No. 1, Part 14 (May 19, 1914).


Course Enrollment

[Economics] 9 1hf. Professor Carver.—Economics of Agriculture.

Total 43: 5 Graduates, 26 Seniors, 8 Juniors, 4 Others.

Source: Report of the President of Harvard College, 1914-15, p. 59.


Final Examination


  1. In what sense is the farmer independent, and in what sense is he not?
  2. What improvements or improved products have we brought from England? from France? from Holland?
  3. What is the character of rural as compared with urban migrations?
  4. What are the comparative advantages of ownership and tenency? Of cash and share tenency?
  5. What are the advantages of organized marketing of farm products?
  6. (a) What are the leading forms of rural credit?
    (b) What are the advantages of coöperative, or mutual, credit associations?
  7. What are the leading social needs of the average American rural community?
  8. What agencies or institutions are best fitted to supply the social needs of the average American Rural Community?
  9. What are the leading causes of the drift of population from the country to the city? Is this, in your opinion, a temporary or a permanent phenomenon?
  10. On the farms of Iowa, the horse-power per acre is increasing; while the man-power per acre is decreasing. At the same time the product per acre is increasing. Is this desirable? Suppose that it takes all the increase of product to feed the extra horses; would it then be desirable? Suppose, also, that Iowa exports horses: would this justify the change?


Source: Harvard University Examinations. Papers Set for Final Examinations in History, History of Science, Government, Economics, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Ethics, Education, Fine Arts, Music in Harvard College. June 1915, p. 52.

Image Source: Thomas Nixon Carver in Harvard Class Album, 1916.


Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier