From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

African American County Extension Agents and Home Demonstration Agents, Kentucky

Below are the names of African American county extension agents and home demonstration agents in Kentucky from 1918-1950. The names come from the minutes of the University of Kentucky (UK) Board of Trustees (available online full-text at the Explore UK website). The agents were hired at the UK Agricultural Experiment Station. It was the Hatch Act of 1887 [info] that established and funded agricultural experiment stations at land grant schools with a college of agriculture in each state. The land-grant schools were founded by the Morrill Act of 1862 [info]. For Kentucky, the institution that fit all the criteria was the University of Kentucky; it was a land-grant school with a College of Agriculture, and would therefore have the state agricultural experiment station. Throughout the country, agricultural experiment stations would become cooperative extension services with funding from the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 [info]. After much debating, the Smith-Lever Act allowed states to decide which land-grant college or colleges would administer the state's Smith-Lever funds that would establish extension systems. There had been a compromise because of the protest from southern states that did not want the extension system to be housed at African American land grant schools. And though there was an African American land grant school in Kentucky, Kentucky State College (now Kentucky State University), for the state of Kentucky, the administrator of the Smith-Lever funds would be the University of Kentucky; therefore, allowing UK to oversee the hiring of agents for the extension system. Funding from the Capper-Ketcham Act of 1924 was to further develop the Smith-Lever Act with extension work in agriculture for men and boys, and also with home economics for women and girls, for example 4-H Clubs and Future Farmers of America [info]. In Kentucky, the 4-H Clubs was segregated with the Rural Youth Conference for Negroes held at Kentucky State College (now Kentucky State University) [source: see "Black Participation" within Kentucky 4-H History website]. In 1935 the Bankhead-Jones Act increased federal funding to the land-grant schools for agriculture and mechanical arts [info]. The extension service had hired county agents, men who traveled throughout their assigned regions working mostly with male farmers providing the latest industry information related to agriculture business and family farming. Other workers were home demonstration agents, women who worked mostly with women and girls on the farm to contribute to the health and happiness of farm family members through food production (gardening) and preservation (canning), and other home economy activities. Within the agricultural experiment station in Kentucky, the agents' duties were divided by sex, and there was further division by race; African American agents, both men and women, were hired to work with African American families. Though the University of Kentucky student body would not start to desegregate until 1949, this did not apply to the hiring of African Americans who had been employed starting in the latter 1800s as janitors, maids, cooks, and other service employees and as performers at entertainment events. It was during WWI that African Americans men were first hired as county agents and, it was in 1914 that African American women were hired as home demonstration agents in Kentucky. For more information see the Thomas P. Cooper Papers, Markets to Morris, A. J. 00061, Box 27, File: Negroes and Kentucky Agriculture, 1939-1946. More specifically, see within the file the source sheet titled "Negro Club Work in Kentucky Negro 4-H Club in Kentucky in 1942"; the booklet titled Agricultural Extension Services Among Negroes in the South by Doxey A. Wilkerson; and the sheet titled "Negro 4-H Club Work [1943].



  • L. Garvin  - (Colored) Emergency Assistant County Agent - Mercer County - July 1, 1918 - one year contract - $100 per month - ($66 2/3 per month paid by Emergency Fund) - p.4


  • Hattie Peoples - Colored Home Demonstration Agent - Madison County - June 16, 1920 - 6 1/2 months contract - $75 per month - p.23
  •  L. B. Jett - (Colored) County Agent - Mercer County - June 16, 1920 - 6 1/2 months contract - $100 per month - p.23


  • F. D. Wharton - County Agent (Ext Colored People) - Shelby County - May 2, 1923-May1, 1924 - $100 per month - p.9


  • F. D. Wharton - Continuation - County Agent for Colored Farmers - Shelby County - September 1, 1925-December 31, 1925 - $108 1/3 per month - p.10


  • H. A. Laine - Continuation - (Colored) County Agent - Madison County - April 1, 1932-May 31, 1932 - $83 1/3 per month - p.8


  • Henry A. Laine - Negro County Agent - Jessamine County - July 1, 1937-June 30, 1938 - $1,100 per year - Bankhead Funds and Offset to Federal Funds - p.86
  • John H. Finch - Negro County Agent - Warren County - July 1, 1937-June 30, 1938 - $1,000 per year - Bankhead Funds - p.83
  • Runyon Story - Negro County Agent - Christian County - July 1, 1937-June 30, 1938 - $1,000 per year - Bankhead Funds - p.89


  • Rachel Lee Davis - Assistant Colored Home Demonstration Agent - Fulton County - September 1, 1937-June 30, 1938 - $1,200 per year - Bankhead Fund - p.80
  • Hattie Robert Bethea - Colored Home Demonstration Agent - Fulton-Hickman Counties - July 1, 1938-June 30, 1939 - $100 per month - Capper-Ketcham Funds - p.58
  • Rachel Lee Davis - Colored Home Demonstration Agent - Christian County - July 1, 1938-June 30, 1939 - $100 per month - Capper-Ketcham Funds - p.58
  • John H. Finch - Continuation Colored County Agent - Warren County - July 1 1938-June 30, 1939 - $83.33 1/3 per month - Smith-Lever Funds - p.65
  • Henry A. Laine - Continuation Negro County Agent - Jessamine County - July 1, 1938-June 30, 1939 - $91.66 2/3 per month - Smith-Lever Funds - p.68
  • Runyon Story - Negro County Agent - Christian County - July 1, 1937-June 30, 1939 - $91.66 2/3 per month - Federal Supplementary Funds ($100 increase on College) - p.72


  • James Harris - (Colored) County Agent - Christian County - Salary Adjustment - March 1, 1943 - p.64


  • Louis [J]. Duncan, Jr. - Assistant County Agent (Negro) - Christian-Todd Counties - June 14, 1944-June 30, 1944 - p.40 


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Muir, Florence G. Anderson
NKAA Entry: Poston, Mollie Cox
NKAA Entry: Garvin, Ananias Lorenzo
NKAA Entry: Laine, Henry Allen
NKAA Source: Thomas P. Cooper Papers
NKAA Source: Agricultural Extension Services among Negroes in the South
NKAA Source: Recognition of African American Women at the University of Kentucky (unpublished manuscript)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  White, Churchill

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American County Extension Agents and Home Demonstration Agents, Kentucky,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed September 23, 2020,

Last modified: 2018-08-09 13:46:41