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Guide to the Records of University Extension, University of California, 1913-1957
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Records of University Extension, University of California,
    Date (inclusive): 1913-1957
    Collection Number: CU-18
    Creator: University of California (System). University Extension
    Extent: 64 boxes (80 linear ft.)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library. University Archives.
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Abstract: Administrative correspondence of the directors and of various branch offices; files of the Lecture and Correspondence Departments; files relating to various programs and to the use of television in education.
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Records of University Extension, University of California, CU-18, University Archives, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Administrative Information


    Transferred from University Extension in 1966.

    Administrative History

    Two University of California Presidents, Edward S. Holden and Horace Davis, had urged the creation of extension before the fall of 1891, when the first extension course, The Tragedies of Shakespeare, was presented in San Francisco.
    Initially, the concept of extension instruction had been imported from England to eastern universities: in 1816, Rutgers presented the first extension lecturer in America, and Daniel Coit Gilman of Johns Hopkins adumbrated the idea in 1879. At Berkeley interest was kindled by Professor Charles Mills Gayley's presentation of a paper on the English movement to a small, informal gathering of colleagues. The historic outcome was a consensus that the University's plan of extension, rather than imitating the English system, would be suited to conditions in the state of California.
    For the next two years, off-campus courses were offered in history, philosophy, mathematics, and English under an experimental project sanctioned by the Academic Senate. On February 14, 1893, the Regents adopted the extra-mural instruction plan, which officially founded University Extension.
    From its earliest beginnings, extension suffered from fiscal and administrative ambivalence. The tuition fee, as a means of finance, was eliminated in 1893 by Martin Kellogg, the University's President pro tempore. Not surprisingly, the policy of prohibiting extra compensation for extension teaching cost extension dearly in faculty support. Despite this, the University's continuing education program grew steadily during the last decade of the nineteenth century.
    In 1902, University Extension was reorganized as a self-governing body within the University. President Benjamin Ide Wheeler appointed Professor Henry Morse Stephens director, and from 1902 to 1912 Stephens guided the program through a period of marked expansion--and subsequent decline.
    By 1905-06, 19 University Extension Centers had been established, but commuting weekly in an era of inadequate railroad connections posed insurmountable problems for the faculty. A period of adverse economic conditions reversed the growth trend until by 1910-11 the only four extension centers which survived were in Bakersfield, Sacramento, Sonoma, and Watsonville. University Extension, little integrated as yet into the parent institution, was placed in the role of mendicant. Although some 200 courses in 16 departments had been offered, this record reflected more community support than University initiative. Curtailment of university-level adult education to Californians led to the President's appointment of a Committee on Reorganization, and in 1912 one of the most controversial figures in the history of University Extension, Professor Ira W. Howerth, became director.
    Howerth had been dean of University College of the University of Chicago, the first university to establish extension as equal to its residential colleges. When his efforts to provide public service via University of California University Extension met with opposition, Howerth began to work around the departments of the University and refused to appease his detractors. He chafed at restrictions (in a 1917 speech he acidly questioned how refusing to pay faculty members for teaching extension "was supposed to stimulate their enthusiasm--"). Despite his conflict with those who felt that a university should maintain academic detachment from community problems, he achieved several important innovations. District organization was created to literally extend the University to communities remote from the Berkeley campus. The first legislative appropriation for extension came in 1915-1917, with $40,000 to cover the biennium. An attempt to garner state support failed in 1913 after the legislature had passed the University's special request for $50,000 for extension. Subsequently, the governor, in a lengthy statement urging that extension work "be carried on, improved, and broadened....." vetoed the measure!
    Howerth pioneered the first short course, a dental institute in 1914, which brought 217 members of the dental profession from California, other states, and Honolulu. Extension's numerous institutes, which today have become the hallmark of the University's continuing education in law, health sciences, and other professions, grew from this early beginning. Other unprecedented moves by that director brought extension teaching into the state's penal institutions; sent traveling exhibits to California high schools; combined correspondence instruction and extension classwork to teach occupational skills; collaborated with Hastings College of the Law and with museums and business firms in California. Howerth also dared to launch a controversial experiment--the Bureau of Municipal Reference--which, with the assistance of the University Library and the California State Libraries, brought University expertise to bear upon community problem-solving. But the sins of both vocational and secondary level programming and circumvention of University departments were his nemesis. His role with University Extension dissolved mistily, and the turbulent regime of Ira Howerth ended in 1917, two years before his post was officially terminated. That date marked the appointment of Leon J. Richardson, Latin scholar, philologist, poet, and an administrator who prided himself on organizational tranquility and sanguine relations with his fellow academicians.
    Under the direction of an Advisory Board of University Extension, Richardson standardized extension work, mending fences through course approval, credit approval, and faculty approval. He guided the University's extra-mural program until his titular retirement in 1938 and taught extension correspondence courses until he was a nonagenarian.
    The first World War brought sharp advances in enrollment, due to reduced fees for enlisted men and the Armed Forces' need to update the education of military personnel. Before the depression of the 1930's cut enrollment sharply, the University's concern with all segments of society in the state prompted organization of the Bureau of Labor Education in 1922. Labor education at the University was influenced by the tutorial class system in English universities. (It was followed in later years by Engineering Extension, Business Administration Extension and other extension links with the University's schools and departments.) Upon Richardson's retirement, Boyd Rakestraw, the former business manager, served as acting director for four years until 1942.
    Only a man like Baldwin Woods, who believed that whatever was academically desirable was administratively possible, could have guided University Extension successfully through the revisionist era of World War II and the postwar years. Woods, an associate dean of engineering and ultimately a vice-president, had spent his life with the University since joining the faculty in 1908. He remodeled the role of University Extension from a remedial service for adult drop-outs to a viable alumni education for every segment of society: the sciences, the professions, business, and industry. Long before many leaders in the community realized that the knowledge explosion had shattered the myth of ever "finishing" one's education, he perceived the huge and unending task of continuing education.
    When the California State Bar Association, realizing the threat of professional obsolescence, sought a program that would update lawyers on changes in the legal code, Woods formed a committee of the deans of all accredited schools of law in the state to give technical advice on curriculum. Continuing Education of the Bar since has burgeoned into one of the largest extension programs extant, enrolling three out of every five lawyers in California yearly. The war also had dramatized gaps in the field of medicine. Continuing Education in Medicine and the Health Sciences, another innovation of the 1940's, rapidly found a permanent academic home within University Extension. In recent years, closed circuit television has carried specialized programs to hospitals in the farthest outposts of the state, where staff members were too remote from a campus to attend extension offerings.
    Inducing the major manufacturers to release top echelon personnel during wartime to teach engineering extension was another of Woods' diplomatic achievements. At one point, industry leaders opposed his insistence upon training women for mechanical design and other defense jobs formerly held only by men, but he proved their competence, thus helping to open new occupational opportunities for American women.
    Certificate programs--the curricula of integrated course sequences approved by the Academic Senate--required the combined talents of University faculties and professionals in the field to speed up the dissemination of new knowledge. Woods launched it with a certificate in bank management to train prospective bank presidents in the solutions to problems facing the capitalist system. Later certificate programs were designed in nuclear technology, city planning, numerical analysis, propulsion and power conversion systems, and other specialized, synthesized knowledge of vital importance to the state.
    The postwar period shaped new needs for University of California University Extension. California was moving toward a highly differentiated system of publicly supported higher education. As more and more of the responsibility for providing degree-credit work shifted to the state colleges and junior colleges, University Extension was freed for the more demanding and innovative role in postgraduate and professional programming.
    (Adapted from The Centennial Record)


    • Paul H. Sheats, "University Extension: A History," Oral History Program, UCLA (Unpubl., 1965)
    • Baldwin M. Woods, "University Extension 1942-56," Regional Cultural History Project, Berkeley (Unpubl.)
    • Leon J. Richardson, Berkeley Culture, UC Highlights and University Extension, 1892-1960
    • Kermit C. King, The Historical Development of Extension, UCLA (1947)
    • Edward A. Dickson, University of California at Los Angeles (Los Angeles, 1955)
    • Leon J. Richardson, Arrows and Driftwood; Essays in Lifelong Learning, UC Extension Division (1936) Resolutions and Proceedings of a Conference on the Future Role of the University in Relation to Public Service; the New Challenge in Lifelong Learning (September, 1965)

    Scope and Content

    These records cover the period from 1913 to 1957, which includes the administrations of Ira W. Howerth, Leon J. Richardson, Boyd Rakestraw, and Baldwin Woods. The document all phases of operation of the Extension Division.