Friday Feature (on a Wednesday): Chris McQuilkin’s work as a Resident Scholar

Thanks to SCARC student Geoff Somnitz for this great post on one of our resident scholars!

Chris McQuilkin, a master’s candidate at the University of Oregon, recently completed a term as Resident Scholar in the Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives Research Center. During his term in residence, McQuilkin explored the organization, methods and ideology of the Agricultural Extension Service of land-grant colleges in the United States served as a model for US technical assistance programs in the early Cold War, and became important tools of foreign policy in that conflict. Specifically, he focused on two OSU alumni, Elvin Duerst and Wallace Kadderly, and their assistance activities in Latin America.

After the conclusion of the Second World War, U.S. foreign policy makers had to consider the role of U.S. foreign aid in European rebuilding efforts and the wider world. The debate that followed culminated in the Marshall Plan in 1948. The following year, President Truman expanded the range of foreign aid to include technical help to “underdeveloped areas” across the globe. This was laid out as the Point Four plan in his 1949 inaugural address. The origin of this plan began as a continuation of work that the U.S. had begun in the region through the Institute of Inter-American Affairs (IIAA) in 1942. Truman created the Technical Cooperation Administration to carry out the Point Four Program in 1950, and the IIAA became the TCA’s Latin American branch.

Paraguay had been one of the first countries to ask for aid from the IIAA. Albion Patterson, the chief of IIAA, would later describe Paraguay as an “excellent laboratory” for the Point Four program it was among the least developed in Latin America. Elvin Duerst arrived in Paraguay in 1948 as an economic advisor for IIAA, and began to work for the servicio (“bureau”). The servicio, the main unit for IIAA in each country, was jointly run by IIAA and the country’s government. The servicio’s role differed based on the different requests for assistance. McQuilkin focused mainly on the servicio’s agricultural aid efforts in Paraguay. Duerst worked on the issue of unequal distribution of arable land and settler colonies designed to alleviate it. After the success of the two sample colonies, Duerst pushed for wider implementation of the policy. He then proposed the idea of “demonstration farms” to teach farmers modern agricultural skills. The long-term goal of the servicio in Paraguay was to make the agricultural industry competitive in the global market. Duerst proposed that this could be possible by linking the servicio’s research and demonstrations sections and by organizing similar to the form of U.S. land grant colleges.

In the early 1950’s, Duerst proposed an exchange program to bring Paraguayan farmers to the U.S. to study agriculture and economics. Exchange programs such as this became one of the most observable and substantial effects of technical assistance programs such as IIAA.

The U.S. invested so much effort in Latin America during this period because of the looming threat of Communism. The U.S. State Department regarded the issue of mutual security and American authority in the Western Hemisphere as extremely important and cultivated as many allies as it could get in Latin America. Duerst was promoted and left Paraguay for IIAA’s Washington office. He dealt with government aid budgets for Latin America and managed finances for single projects. He continued this through President Eisenhower and Kennedy’s different versions of IIAA and the Foreign Operations Administration and continued to help aid Latin America.

In 1955, Wallace Kadderly came to Latin America to begin his work. In contrast to Duerst’s economic and agricultural expertise, Kadderly’s skill was in education and information, specifically in radio and media. Wallace Kadderly was a former KOAC (Oregon Agricultural College’s radio station) staff member who started working for the Inter-American Institute for Agricultural Science (IAIAS), a branch of the Organization of American States, in 1955. His position there was Editor-in-Chief of the Scientific Communications Service. His job had him travelling regularly. He was in Latin America from 1955 to 1958, going across the region to tour information services and discussing and figuring out how to expand them. He frequently used cheap and portable ways to educate agricultural workers and the most commonly used tool was the Magic Box. It consisted of teaching supplies and materials that could be assembled cheaply and easily from resources on hand. Using tools such as the Magic Box, IIAA workers made a curriculum that had three principles; simplicity, directness, and efficiency.

In Kadderly’s travels, he summarized each visit with a short “Field Trip Report” that covered what he had done at each place. Each followed the basic format of listing the purpose of his visit, the people he had encountered, and a concise outline of his activities. He also worked planning several conferences that discussed media (such as radio, newspapers, and magazines) and their relationships to the agricultural extension service. Kadderly worked to spread the work of servicios through a regional magazine that was first published and released by the IAIAS in 1956. He served as chief editor of Extension en Las Americas for the first year of publication, and then returned to the United States in 1958.

Also in that year the IIAA dissolved and Elvin Duerst continued to work for the parent agency, the ICA (International Cooperation Administration). Three years later, Duerst began working for an agency formed by President Kennedy, the Agency for International Development (USAID). He was assigned an economic advisor position with the Regional Office for Central America and Panama (ROCAP) to conduct economic studies on nations in Central America. He returned to Washington D.C. in 1964 to attend a conference on rural development. It discussed ways for better coordination among the land-grant and aid organizations in conceiving and implementing projects. They also made the suggestion to make a definitive policy about the role of land-grant colleges in technical assistance, with the creation of an advisory committee to oversee the relationship. The conference also emphasized the importance of the relationship between land-grant colleges and technical assistance agencies since the introduction of technical aid by President Truman in 1949. Since then, people such as Kadderly and Duerst have been recruited from land-grant colleges to federal aid agencies, but until the 1964 conference, there had been no coordinated effort between the two.

The Resident Scholar Program offers stipends of up to $2,500 for visiting researchers wishing to use SCARC’s collections.  Applications for 2014-15 scholars will be solicited beginning in January.  For more on the program, please see http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/residentscholar.html

 

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