An agricultural and educational reformer born in 1868, Kenyon Butterfield was the ninth president of Massachusetts Agricultural College and one of the university's most important figures. An 1891 graduate of Michigan Agricultural College and recipient of MA in Economics and Rural Sociology from the University of Michigan (1902), Butterfield entered university administration early in his career, becoming President of the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1903 and, only three years later, of the Massachusetts Agricultural College. Possessed of a Progressive spirit, Butterfield revolutionized the college during his 18 years in Amherst, expanding and diversifying the curriculum, quadrupling the institutional budget, fostering a dramatic increase in the presence of women on campus and expanding the curriculum, and above all, helping to promote the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 and developing the Cooperative Extension Service into a vital asset to the Commonwealth. Nationally, he maintained a leadership role in the field of rural sociology and among Land Grant University presidents. After leaving Amherst in 1924, Butterfield served as President at Michigan Agricultural College for four years and was active in missionary endeavors in Asia before retiring. He died at his home in Amherst on Nov. 25, 1936.
The Butterfield Papers contain biographical materials, administrative and official papers of both of his presidencies, typescripts of his talks, and copies of his published writings. Includes correspondence and memoranda (with students, officials, legislators, officers of organizations, and private individuals), reports, outlines, minutes, surveys, and internal memoranda.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Kenyon Leech Butterfield
The Kenyon L. Butterfield Papers, 1889 (1906-1924) 1945, include biographical materials, administrative and official papers of his presidencies at the Massachusetts Agricultural College (1906-1924), now the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and at the Michigan Agricultural College (1924-1928), now Michigan State University, typescripts of his talks and copies of his published writings. By far the largest part of the papers was generated during Butterfield's presidency at the University of Massachusetts, but both the earliest item, a copy of his 1889 yearbook at the Michigan Agricultural College, and the latest, a 1945 appreciation by Professor Winthrop S. Welles, are among the biographical materials.
The papers consist of correspondence and memoranda exchanged with faculty and staff, with state and federal officials and legislators, with officers of a variety of agricultural, educational and religious organizations, with students and alumni, and, now and then, with private individuals. There are, too, reports and outlines from faculty members and others; minutes of college administrative committees and of local, state, regional, and national councils and committees on which Butterfield served; surveys and working papers on problems and conditions at the campus, in Massachusetts agriculture, and in the rural sector of the nation; as well as internal memoranda of the President's office and newspaper clippings and magazine extracts regarding the development of the College and the evolution of agriculture and education in the nation.
It is not clear how many of the administrative papers generated at the College during the Butterfield era may have been lost, but those that survive have the appearance of being representative of the administrative concerns of the time. There are no materials in the collection that deal with Butterfield's activities as a teacher and nor are there family papers in this collection.
Images from this collection are also available online as part of the Five College Archives Digital Access Project.
In the process of arranging these files, the many folders which contained materials from two (or more) presidencies have been divided, and the papers have been distributed to the files of the appropriate president. Papers related to the formulation of the annual budgets forwarded to State authorities for enactment by the Legislature, and to the apportionment of the resulting funds, have been relocated into the overall chronological budget file in Archives RG 4/2. Materials generated by the Course of Study Committee and several other committees made up largely of faculty members have been shifted to Archives RG 40/A2. Board of Trustees minutes and papers have been placed in Archives RG 2. Many copies of papers duplicated in this record group or elsewhere in the collections of the Archives have been discarded.
Processed by W.B. Cook, Jr., 1982.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cite as: Kenyon L. Butterfield Papers (RG 3/1). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.