The Centennial Year Begins

Welcome to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ centennial blog. Throughout the year, we’ll share little-known facts and tidbits about life at the College and Texas A&M University. As the college prepares for the next 100 years, we’ll take you on a historical journey through the past century.

Humble Beginnings

When the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas opened in 1876, the ‘A’ in agriculture soon took a back seat to the ‘M’ in mechanical. At that time, male seniors attended only agricultural vocation courses, because there were few science-based agriculture textbooks. Farmers and ranchers had little scientific knowledge on which to base their agricultural practices.

All that changed in 1911, when the board of directors organized the School of Agriculture within the college, improving the outlook for agricultural education. That school eventually became known as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University. As Texas A&M has grown in size and scope, so has the international recognition of its agriculture program.

Here are a few tidbits from our first century:

  • Many subjects available in the early years are still taught today in one form or another: agricultural engineering, agronomy, animal husbandry, biology, diary husbandry, entomology, farm management, forestry, horticulture, and rural social science.
  • In 1913, the team from A&M won the International Livestock Judging Contest.
  • From 1914 to 1917, students studying agriculture at A&M outnumbered students studying engineering.
  • Dr. Mark Francis, first head of the School of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1916 as part of the agriculture school, worked with the King Ranch to perfect a cattle dip that killed ticks carrying Texas fever. Dr. Francis also developed a vaccine that nearly eradicated the disease by the mid 1940s.
  • After the United States entered World War I in 1917, many A&M students went off to fight the war. One of them, J.V. “Pinky” Wilson, later wrote the “Aggie War Hymn,” which has been ranked as the No. 1 college fight song.

Photo courtesy of Cushing Memorial Library

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