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An Abbreviated Timeline in the Development of Agricultural Communications

by Bill Tedrick, ACE Retiree - 04/01/09

1440 Johannes Gutenberg invents the movable type printing press.
1588 The Brief and True Report of New Found Land in Virginia was written by Thomas Hariot of Roanoke, Virginia. This report was the first agricultural writing from the New World. All previous agriculture writings were from Europe.
1638 The first Colonial Almanac was printed by Stephen Daye.
1704 The first American newspaper, The Boston News-Letter, was printed and issued on April 24 by John Campbell. The newspaper survived under various names until 1776.
1732 Poor Richard’s Almanac was written by Benjamin Franklin and quickly became the most popular almanac in the colonies.
1748 The Essays of Field Husbandry were written by Jared Eliot. These essays were the first printed agriculture work in America and provided significant American treaties of agriculture.
1777 The New Jersey Gazette was founded by Isaac Collins. This was the first newspaper to encourage articles on farming.
1785 The Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture was established. This was the first agricultural society to publish results of experimental work.
1792 The Farmer’s Almanac, edited by Robert Bailey Thomas of Grafton, Mass., was published. It began encouraging and publishing hints to improve agriculture and farming practices.
1810 The Agricultural Museum was published by David Wiley. This was the first magazine in America devoted exclusively to farming. It survived only two years.
1819 The American Farmer was first published on April 2 by John Stuart Skinner. Skinner is considered the Father of American Farm Journalism.
1862 The Morrill Land-Grant Act allowed each state to have acreage of public land to help finance a college of agricultural and mechanical arts, and established agricultural education as we know it today.
1881 The Breeder’s Gazette was founded by James H. Sanders. This publication resulted in the creation of breed magazines.
1885 Hoard’s Dairyman was founded by William Depster Hoard. It became the most prominent dairy publication in the world.
1885 The Agricultural Journals were established, consisting of 172 published ag journals.
1889 Farmer’s Bulletins was first issued by USDA and became the most popular government publication of that time.
1894 The Yearbook of Agriculture was issued by the USDA. These yearbooks included research articles and summary reports by the Secretary of Agriculture.
1905 The first course in agricultural journalism was taught at Iowa State University. The course was about writing for the agricultural press and marked the beginning of modern agricultural communications courses.
1908 The first Department of Agricultural Communications was established at the University of Wisconsin. The first bachelor degree was granted in 1908 to Dallas S. Burch.
1913 The first meeting of the American Association of Agricultural College Editors (AAACE) was held at the University of Illinois, with three editors attending. This was the beginning of ACE now the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences.
1914 On May 8, the Smith-Lever Act established the Extension Service.
1915 The first radio broadcast of weather and crop reports was aired. The broadcast was generated from University of Wisconsin and was transmitted in Morse cod.
1917 On Feb. 23, the Smith-Hughes Act provided funds to states for teaching agriculture in high school.
1920 The first regular agricultural radio broadcast began on Nov. 15. It was broadcast over short wave radio in code and was sent to 2,500 ham radio operators.
1921 The first vocal broadcast was transmitted on Feb. 3 by the University of Wisconsin. The broadcast consisted of a weather report.
1921 On May 19, the first daily radio program expressly for farmers was started. It transmitted USDA market reports on air. KDKA in Pittsburgh was the first licensed station was to carry the broadcast
1922 The first farm radio commercial was broadcast. It was heard in October on the Farmer’s Noon Hour on KFBB in Great Falls, Montana.
1923 The first full-time farm broadcaster, Frank Mullin of KDKA in Pittsburgh, took the air.
1951 In September, the first regular farm television show began in Memphis, Tennessee.
1955 Farm magazine circulation reached a total circulation of 29 million readers on 4.8 million farms, averaging six publications per farm.
1970 The Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) was founded as an organization for college students interested in agricultural communications careers.
2000 By 2000, agricultural media in the U.S. had exploded. The main sources of ag media that year:
  • 101 agricultural newspapers
  • 432 magazines
  • 1,001 AM stations
  • 745 FM stations
  • 12 state and 3 regional radio networks
  • 3 television stations
2003 Computers were used in 61% of all U.S. homes, and 48% had Internet access. There were a total of 9 million operational websites (not including personal websites).


Edited by Becky Koch, November 2013

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