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Virginia Tech History Resources: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

This guide details resources intended to help those doing research on the history of Virginia Tech, including the use of Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries, and related resources.

Researching the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS)

Here are several resources related to the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS), its schools, its programs, and its departments. There are also resources related to the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, which reports partially to CALS, and related units. See also the page on this guide for the College of Natural Resources & Environment, which developed out of CALS.

General Resources

Record groups may include posters, flyers, photos, organizational records, and more. Materials are divided into assigned Record Groups based on the office, division, or unit and designated by the prefix, RG. For example, materials relating to CALS are designated RG 13/x.

About the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) has roots going back to the beginning of Virginia Tech's history. When the university began as Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1872, it offered agriculture as one of its 13 "courses of study," what would today be considered "departments." The Department of Agriculture was one of the first four major administrative divisions created when Deans were appointed to the academic departments. In 1907, a School of Scientific Agriculture and a School of Agricultural Apprentices were established within the Department of Agriculture. In 1920, the title was changed to School of Agriculture, becoming the College of Agriculture in 1964. The name was changed to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1971.

Online Histories and Exhibits

CALS Collections

CALS Collections

Here are several SCUA collections related to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This is not a comprehensive list of all our related collections. To find more, please search within our collections on Archival Resources of the Virginias.

CALS Publications

About Special Collections and University Archives


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Virginia Tech's Land Acknowledgement & Labor Recognition

Virginia Tech acknowledges that we live and work on the Tutelo / Monacan People’s homeland, and we recognize their continued relationships with their lands and waterways. We further acknowledge that the Morrill Land-Grant College Act (1862) enabled the commonwealth of Virginia to finance and found Virginia Tech through the forced removal of Native Nations from their lands in western territories. We understand that honoring Native Peoples without explicit material commitments falls short of our institutional responsibilities. Through sustained, transparent, and meaningful engagement with the Tutelo / Monacan Peoples, and other Native Nations, we commit to changing the trajectory of Virginia Tech's history by increasing Indigenous student, staff, and faculty recruitment and retention, diversifying course offerings, and meeting the growing needs of all Virginia tribes and supporting their sovereignty.

Virginia Tech acknowledges that its Blacksburg campus sits partly on land that was previously the site of the Smithfield and Solitude Plantations, owned by members of the Preston family. Between the 1770s and the 1860s, the Prestons and other local White families that owned parcels of what became Virginia Tech also owned hundreds of enslaved people. We acknowledge that enslaved Black people generated wealth that financed the predecessor institution to Virginia Tech, the Preston and Olin Institute, and they also worked on construction of its building. Not until 1953, however, was the first Black student permitted to enroll. Through InclusiveVT, the institutional and individual commitment to Ut Prosim (that I may serve) in the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence, we commit to advancing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.

Full and short version of the acknowledgement can be found on InclusiveVT's website.