Co-operatives are voluntary associations jointly-owned and operated for the benefit of those using their services. While the Co-operative Movement was a worldwide phenomena in the 1800s, it was particularly strong and pervasive early on in Utah. Nineteenth-century Utah pioneers embraced the spirit of cooperation, building shared irrigation systems and establishing co-op stores within their communities. The co-operative spirit exemplified in Mormon communities followed Utahns into the twentieth century as farmers continued to associate in a variety of co-operative enterprises. Utah State University, founded in 1888 as Utah Agricultural College, further promoted these principles -- even before Congress established the Co-operative Extension Service in 1914, the University was conducting conferences for Utah's farmers and homemakers.
This digital history of agricultural cooperatives in Utah extends from the experiences of early Latter-day Saint pioneers to formation of the Utah Co-operative Association (UCA) and its ultimate absorption by the Farmer's Union Central Exchange (CENEX) in 1976. The collection's images, papers, reports, pamphlets, and audio clips illustrate the history of farmer co-operatives throughout Utah and the movement's longstanding connection with USU.
This project is supported by USU's Department of Applied Economics, through donations from former USU Board of Trustee member and President of the UCA, W. B. Robins. Graduate intern Emily Gurr-Thompson carefully selected the materials for digitization and coordinated the introductory slide show. Materials come mainly from the following collections: