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Know the West

Further reading on HCN’s land-grants university investigation

Dive deep into our bibliography.

 

Land-grant universities’ ties to Indigenous history have started gaining attention in the last few years, typically framed by references to studies of universities’ links to the slave trade. Sharon Stein (2017) and Margaret Nash (2019) have provided the most in-depth assessments. They are joined by a variety of brief academic and popular discussions, and preceded by a couple of small-scale efforts to tie land-grant parcels to Indigenous territory in GIS at Cornell and Virginia Tech. For these works and others, see the section listed under “Morrill Act and Indigenous Dispossession.”

[RELATED:https://www.hcn.org/issues/52.4/indigenous-affairs-education-land-grab-universities]

Within the extensive literature on the Morrill Act, several older studies examined the grants, most prominently Paul Wallace Gates’ The Wisconsin Pine Lands of Cornell University (1943). There have also been recent efforts to map Morrill Act parcels at Michigan State University, Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska. Although these works do not discuss Indigenous land, they are useful for understanding the grant-disposal process and are listed under “Morrill Act Grant Histories.” The small body of literature that explores the economic impact of land-grant universities is listed under “Morrill Act and the Economy.”

There are numerous studies of the Morrill Act itself that sidestep Indigenous history or U.S. territorial expansion, generally focusing on the act’s promise to democratize education. Some of these explore the law’s uneven impact in terms of class, gender, race and region. For an overview of the key questions, see Nathan M. Sorber and Roger L. Geiger’s essay, “The Welding of Opposite Views: Land-Grant Historiography at 150 Years” (2014). Works in this vein appear under “Democracy’s Colleges?”

Studies of slavery and universities, treaty-making, settler colonialism and the public domain offer critical background for understanding the Morrill Act’s function as an Indigenous wealth transfer. Key works are listed under “Slavery and the University,” “Treaties and Indigenous Sovereignty,” “Settler Colonialism” and “Public Land Law and Policy.”

Morrill Act and Indigenous Dispossession

Chords, Sam. Letter to the editor. “One Land-Grant University’s Commitment to Native Americans Can Serve as Model.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 15, 2019.

Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Boston: Beacon Press, 2014 (especially p. 140).

Dunn, Barry H. “Wokini Initiative White Paper.” South Dakota State University, Jan. 2, 2017.

“East meets West: Native Narratives and the Morrill Act.” ArcGIS Story Map, 2016.

Jamieson, Kathleen Hall. “Reconceptualizing public engagement by land-grant university scientists.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States 117, no. 6 (February 2020): 2734-2736.

Landry, Alysa. “Study: Rutgers University Built on Racism.” Indian Country Today. Jan. 18, 2017.

Marjonović, Igor, and Katerina Rüedi Ray. “Art Graft: Public Art and State Education.” Jonathan Silverman and Meghan M. Sweeney, ed. Remaking the American College Campus: Essays. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2016 (especially p. 175-176).

Martin, Michael V. and Janie Simms Hipp. “A Time for Substance: Confronting Funding Inequities at Land Grant Institutions.” Tribal College Journal, Feb. 18, 2018.

Nash, Margaret A. “The dark history of land-grant universities.” Made by History. Washington Post, Nov. 8, 2019.

Nash, Margaret A. “Entangled Pasts: Land-Grant Colleges and American Indian Dispossession.” History of Education Quarterly 59, no. 4 (November 2019): 437-467.

Paperson, La. A Third University Is Possible. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2017.

Stein, Sharon. “A colonial history of the higher education present: rethinking land-grant institutions through processes of accumulations and relations of conquest.” Critical Studies in Education (December 2017): 1-17.

Stein, Sharon. “Facing Up to the Colonial Present of U.S. Higher Education.” Medium. Oct. 26, 2016.

“The Untold Story Behind the Brick and Ivy: Cornell University, the Morrill Land Grant Act, and Native American Tribal Cessions.” ArcGIS Story Map, 2016. 

Morrill Act Grant Histories

Brown, Richard D. “The agricultural college land grant in Kansas — selection and disposal.” Agricultural History 37, no. 2 (April 1963): 94-102.

DeLuc, Thomas. “Scrip vs. Land: The Value of the Federal Grant to the Agricultural Colleges of the Public-Land States of the South.” Journal of Southern History 19 (May 1953): 216-220.

DeLuc, Thomas. “State Disposal of the Agricultural College Land Scrip.” Agricultural History 28, no. 3 (July 1954): 99-107.

Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education. The Land Grant System of 1862 and the Land Grant Colleges. Bulletin, no. 13, by Benjamin F. Andrews. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1918.

Gates, Paul Wallace. “California’s Agricultural College Lands.” Pacific Historical Review 30, no. 2 (May 1961): 103-122.

Gates, Paul Wallace. The Wisconsin Pine Lands of Cornell University. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1943.

Horton, Agnes. “Nebraska’s Agricultural-College Land Grant.” Nebraska History 30 (1949): 50-76.

Glover, W.H. “The Agricultural College lands in Wisconsin.” Wisconsin Magazine of History 30, no. 3 (March 1947): 261-272.

Martin, Asa E. “Pennsylvania’s Land Grant Under the Morrill Act of 1862.” Pennsylvania History 9, no. 2 (April 1942): 85-117.

Sauder, Robert A. “The Impact of the Agricultural College Act on Land Alienation in California.” Professional Geographer 36, no. 1 (Feb. 1984): 28-39.

Sauder, Robert A. and Rose M. Sauder. “The Morrill Act’s Influence on Public Land Disposal after 1870.” Agricultural History 61, no. 2 (Spring 1987): 34-49.

Sauder, Robert A. and Rose M. Sauder. “Regional variations in land alienation: the Agricultural College Act of 1862.” Journal of Historical Geography 12, no. 4 (October 1986): 365-380.

University of Iowa. “Land Grant Legacy,” 2016.

University of Nebraska. “Land Grant Connects,” 2019.

Weessies, Kathleen. “Land Selected under the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862,” June 9, 2017.

Morrill Act and the Economy

Benjamin, Harold R.W. “Agricultural Education in Different Stages of National Development.” The Journal of Economic History 22, no. 4 (December 1962): 547-554.

Cote, L.S. and M.K. Cote. “Economic development activity among land-grant institutions.” Journal of Higher Education 64, no. 1 (1993): 55-73.

Johnson, Eldon L. “Some Development Lessons from the Early Land-Grant Colleges.” The Journal of Developing Areas 19, no. 2 (January 1985): 139-148.

Key, Scott. “Economics or Education: The Establishment of American Land-Grant Universities.” The Journal of Higher Education 67, no. 2 (March/April 1996): 196-220.

Liu, Shimeng. “Spillovers from universities: Evidence from the land-grant program.” Journal of Urban Economics 87, no. 25-41 (May 2015): 25-41.

Mack, Elizabeth A. and Kevin Stolarick. “The Gift That Keeps on Giving: Land-Grant Universities and Regional Prosperity.” Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 32, no. 3 (2014): 384-404.

Democracy’s Colleges? 

Behle, J. Greory. “Educating the Toiling Peoples: Students at the Illinois Industrial University, spring 1868.” Roger L. Geiger and Nathan M. Sorber, eds. The Land-Grant Colleges and the Reshaping of American Higher Education. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2013, 73-94.

Behle, J. Gregory and William Edgar Maxwell. “The Social Origins of Students at the Illinois Industrial University, 1868-1894.” The History of Higher Education Annual 18 (1998): 93-110.

Halliday, Samuel D. History of the Agricultural College Land Grant Act of July 2, 1862. Ithaca: Ithaca Democrat Press, 1905.

Eddy, Edward, Jr. Colleges for Our Land and Time: The Land Grant Idea in American Education. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957.

Edmund, J.B. The Magnificent Charter: The Origin and Role of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges and universities (Hicksville, New York: The Exposition Press, 1978).

Gavazzi, Stephen M., Gee, E. Gordon. Land-Grant Universities for the Future: Higher Education for the Public Good. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018.

Geiger, Roger L. and Nathan M. Sorber, eds. The Land Grant Colleges and the Reshaping of American Higher Education. New Brunswick: Transaction Press, 2013.

Johnson, Eldon L. “Misconceptions About Early Land-Grant Colleges.” Journal of Higher Education 53, no. 4 (July-August 1981): 333-351.

Kellogg Commission. “Returning to our roots: the engaged institution.” 1999. Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities, National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, Washington, D.C.

Marcus, Alan I. “If All the World Were Mechanics and Farmers: American Democracy and the Formative Years of Land-Grant Colleges,” Ohio Valley History 5, no. 1 (Spring 2005): 23-37.

Nevins, Allen. The State Universities and Democracy. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1962.

Ross, Earle D. Democracy’s College: The Land-Grant Movement in the Formative Stage, Ames: Iowa State College, 1942.

Simon, John Y. “The Politics of the Morrill Act,” Agricultural History 37, no. 2 (April 1963): 103-111.

Sorber, Nathan M. “Early Land-Grant Colleges and Students in the Northeastern United States: A History of Regional Access and Mobility Patterns in Maine, Massachusetts, and New York, 1862–1878.” Agricultural History 92, no. 1 (Winter 2018): 101-123.

Sorber, Nathan M. Land-Grant Colleges and Popular Revolt: The Origins of the Morrill Act and the Reform of Higher Education. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2018.

Sorber, Nathan M. and Roger L. Geiger. “The Welding of Opposite Views: Land-Grant Historiography at 150 Years.” Michael B. Paulson, ed. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research: Volume 29. New York: Springer Publishing, 2014, 385-422. 

Slavery and the University

Beckert, Sven, and Katherine Stevens. “Harvard and Slavery: Seeking a Forgotten History,” 2011.

Brophy, Alfred L. “The University and Its Slaves: Apology and Its Meaning.” Mark Gibney, Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann, Jean-Marc Coicaud, and Niklaus Steiner, eds. Age of Apology: Facing Up to the Past. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009, 109-119.

Brophy, Alfred L. University, Court, and Slave: Pro-Slavery Thought in Southern Courts and Colleges and the Coming of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, “Slavery and Justice,” 2006.

Columbia University, “Columbia University & Slavery.” 2017.

Dugdale, Antony, J.J. Fueser, and J. Celso de Castro Alves. “Yale, Slavery and Abolition.” 2001.

Georgetown University. “The Georgetown Slavery Archive,” 2016.

Harris, Leslie M., James T. Campbell, Alfred L. Brophy, eds., Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2019.

Princeton University, “The Princeton and Slavery Project,” 2017.

Robinson, DaVita, Valerie White, Maxine Crump. “Our Ancestors Were Sold to Save Georgetown. $400,000 Is Not Going to Do It.” New York Times, Feb. 6, 2020.

Swarns, Rachel. “272 Slaves Were Sold to Save Georgetown: What Does It Owe Their Descendants?” The New York Times, April 16, 2016.

Svrluga, Susan. “Columbia University explores historical ties to the slave trade.” The Washington Post. Jan. 25, 2017.

Weal, Sally. “Cambridge university to study how it profited from colonial slavery.” The Guardian, April 30, 2019.

Wilder, Craig. Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2013.

Treaties and Indigenous Sovereignty

Bruyneel, Kevin. The Third Space of Sovereignty: The Postcolonial Politics of U.S.-Indigenous Relations. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.

Calloway, Colin G. Pen and Ink Witchcraft: Treaties and Treaty Making in American Indian History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Deloria, Jr., Vine and David E. Wilkins. Tribes, Treaties, and Constitutional Tribulations. University of Texas Press, 1999.

Fixico, Donald L., ed., Treaties with American Indians: An Encyclopedia of Rights, Conflicts, and Sovereignty. 3 vols. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2008.

Harjo, Suzan Shown, ed. Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and American Indian Nations. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of the American Indian and Smithsonian Books, 2013.

Lee, Robert. “Accounting for Conquest: The Price of the Louisiana Purchase of Indian Country.” Journal of American History, 103, no. 4 (March 2017): 921–942.

Prucha, Francis Paul. American Indian Treaties: The History of a Political Anomaly. Berkeley: University of California, 1994.

Spirling, Arthur. “U.S. Treaty Making with American Indians: Institutional Change and Relative Power, 1784–1911.” American Journal of Political Science 56, no. 1 (January 2012): 84-97.

Wilkins, David E. and Lomawaima, K. Tsianina. Uneven Ground: American Indian Sovereignty and Federal Law. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.

Settler Colonialism

Eckstrom, Mikal Brotnov and Jacobs, Margaret. “Teaching American History as Settler Colonialism.” Susan Sleeper-Smith, Juliana Barr, Jean M. O'Brien, Nancy Shoemaker, Scott Manning Stevens, eds. Why You Can't Teach United States History without American Indians. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

Hoxie, Frederick E. “Retrieving the Red Continent: settler colonialism and the history of American Indians in the US.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 31, no. 6 (2008): 1153-1167.

Knobloch, Frieda. The Culture of Wilderness: Agriculture As Colonization in the American West. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996, esp. p. 57-61.

Tuck, Eve and K. Wayne Yank, “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, no. 1 (2012): 1-40.

Veracini, Lorenzo. Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview. Houndmills: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010.

Veracini, Lorenzo. “’Settler Colonialism’: Career of a Concept.” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 41, no. 2 (June 2013): 313–33.

Wolfe, Patrick. “Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native.” Journal of Genocide Research 8, no. 4 (December 2006): 387-409. 

Public Land Law and Policy

Carstensen, Vernon, ed. The Public Lands: Studies in the History of the Public Domain. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1963

Cazier, Lola. Surveys and Surveyors of the Public Domain, 1785-1975. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, 1976.

Clauson, Marion. The Land System of the United States. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1968.

Dombeck, Michael P. From Conquest to Conservation: Our Public Lands Legacy. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2003.

Frymer, Paul. Building an American Empire: The Era of Territorial and Political Expansion. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017.

Gates, Paul Wallace. “An Overview of American Land Policy.” Agricultural History, 50, no. 1 (January 1976): 213-229.

Gates, Paul Wallace. History of Public Land Law Development. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1968.

Gates, Paul Wallace, ed. Public Land Policies: Management and Disposal. New York: Arno Press, 1979.

Hibbard, Benjamin. H. A History of the Public Land Policies. New York: Macmillan, 1924.

Hubbard, Bill. American Boundaries: The Nation, the States, the Rectangular Survey. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Krall, Lisi. Proving Up: Domesticating Land in U.S. History. Albany: SUNY Press, 2010.

Robbins, Roy M. Our Landed Heritage: The Public Domain, 1776–1936. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1941.

Robert Lee is a lecturer in American History at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of Selwyn College, and a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, a land-grant university.