Interview with Howard W. Beers, May 16, 1985

Howard Wayland Beers was born in Gouverneur, New York on April 14, 1905. He recalls his parent's rural upbringing, his father's ministry and says the family moved from New York to Choteau County, Montana. He relates the experiences of his upbringing in Montana on a prairie homestead, where his father raised wheat. He remembers they moved to Bozeman, Montana, where his father held various positions as an agricultural administrator. Beers says he also lived in Great Falls, Montana, where he graduated from high school. He states "his career was a natural outgrowth of his childhood and youth experience". Beers moved back to New York, where he completed his education with a Ph.D. in Sociology from Cornell in 1935. He says he worked for one year as a field worker with the Federal Relief Administration in Washington, D. C. He mentions his positions at Washington State (Pullman), Rutgers University, and the University of Wisconsin. He attended a conference at the University of Kentucky in 1938, and was subsequently invited to take an appointment in Rural Sciences at U.K. He recalls his reluctance to move to the South. Beers became Professor of Rural Sociology at U.K. in 1939, and was named Distinguished Professor of Rural Sociology at UK in 1954. He names the various programs in Europe and Asia he was extensively involved with from 1954-1966, including the Ford Foundation in India, and the Agricultural Development Council in Indonesia. He was the first recipient in 1982 of the Distinguished Rural Sociologist Award. Beers recalls that Rural Sociology was made a required course in the U.K. College of Agriculture to augment the technical courses. The Department of Rural Sociology was eventually implemented, and he discusses the development of the curriculum for this discipline. Beers talks about the focus of the initial research work. The Departments of Sociology and Rural Sociology were finally combined, and Beers was Chairman of both departments from 1951-1959. He talks briefly about the history of the Center for Developmental Change (C.D.C.). He emphasizes that his wife has been an invaluable partner over the last 56 years, lists her accomplishments, and asks her vita be put into this interview. He talks about papers and other works in which he has been published, in particular the book, Kentucky: Designs for Her Future, which he states "was a contribution of UK to post-war planning interest in the commonwealth".

Interview Accession: 
Mike Duff  
Interview Date: 

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