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Under date of August 4, 1916, President Lewis F. Crawford, of the North Dakota Board of Regents, addressed a letter to Commissioner Claxton, inquiring whether it would be possible for him to detail one or more members of the staff of the Bureau of Education to assist the board in making "a survey of the State educational institutions," as required by a law recently enacted by the State legislature. After considerable correspondence, the Commissioner of Education notified the board of regents on October 6 that he had assigned to the work of the North Dakota survey Dr. William T. Bawden, specialist in industrial education, of the bureau staff.

On October 20 Secretary Charles Brewer announced that the board of regents had employed Dr. Edwin B. Craighead, formerly president of the University of Montana, to assist in the work of the survey.

After conferring with officers of the board of regents in Bismarck, N. Dak., on November 1, Commissioner Claxton accepted the invitation to have the survey conducted under the direction of the Commissioner of Education. The board of regents authorized the commissioner to select an additional member to assist in the work.

On December 24 Commissioner Claxton announced the appointment of Prof. Lotus D. Coffman, dean of the college of education, University of Minnesota, to serve as the third member of the survey commission.


On November 1, 1915, the members of the survey commission received a letter from President Crawford outlining the objects which the board had in view in requesting the survey, and calling attention to the fact that the various institutions in question were established by constitutional provisions, back of which it was not deemed to be the province of this survey to go. The instructions to the commission emphasized the desirability of a report on the conditions as they exist in the several institutions, and especially

a careful study of the question of unnecessary duplication of work. It was made clear, however, that the board desired a comprehensive, constructive report, looking toward the future development of a sound and progressive State policy of higher education rather than a mere critical analysis of any defects that might be found to exist.


At the request of the State board of regents, the director and two members of the commission met with the board at Bismarck, N. Dak., on Monday, November 1, 1915. Immediately after this conference the study of the State institutions was begun. The director and all members of the commission visited the university, the agricultural college, and the State normal school at Valley City. Each of the remaining institutions was visited by at least two members of the commission. The aggregate number of days spent in the field visiting these institutions was approximately 100, which was supplemented by time spent in the office of the Bureau of Education in Washington in preparing the report.

In January, 1916, the three members of the commission met with the State board of regents, at which time the presidents of the State schools, the secretary and treasurer of the library commission, the State superintendent of public instruction, and the State inspector of consolidated, graded, and rural schools, were invited to appear and make such statements as they desired to make concerning the functions of the institutions and offices represented, and subsequently to file briefs. Both in the conference and in the formal statements filed in reply to the questions of the commission, these officers displayed a most commendable spirit of cooperation. All seemed eager to work together for the development of an educational system that should bring to all interests of the State the largest possible returns for the money invested.

In April the Commissioner of Education appeared before the State board of regents at Bismarck, N. Dak., and submitted a preliminary general report on the work of the survey.

In June the three members of the commission met with the Commissioner of Education in Washington, to formulate and review the conclusions which had been reached. At this time an outline of the conclusions was forwarded to the State board of regents.

The commission finds it a pleasure to express appreciation of the courtesy and cooperation which have been extended by the citizens of North Dakota, the presidents and members of the faculties of all the schools, the State superintendent of education, the inspector of consolidated, graded, and rural schools, officers of the library commission, State officials at the capital, and many others both in public and private life.


Chapter I.


North Dakota, with a land area of 70,183 square miles and a water surface of 654 square miles, is one of the larger States of the Union, ranking sixteenth in size. The entire area lies within the Great Plains, far away from ocean, away from lakes that serve as highways for commerce, and from large navigable streams. It is almost wholly without forests. There are few falls and rapids capable of being developed into water powers. A large portion of the western half of the State is underlaid with lignites, and here also extensive deposits of clays for brick, tiling, and pottery are found. Gold, silver, copper, lead, and iron are unknown. The soil varies from the rich alluvial and lacustrine Red River Valley on the east through the rolling uplands of the Coteau Plateau to the residual prairies and high plains sections of the west and southwest. The total average precipitation varies from about 20 inches in the east to about 15 inches in the west. Most of this comes in the form of rainfallthrough the growing seasons of spring, summer, and early fall and is in most years sufficient in all parts of the State for maturing crops without irrigation. Only a small fraction of 1 per cent of the land under cultivation is irrigated.

The winters are long, the summers short. This limits the range of profitable farming to the hardy cereals, grasses, fruits, vegetables, and root crops, and to live-stock growing. In 1910, of the total crop acreage, 99.6 per cent was in cereals and other grains, and 91 per cent of the value of all crops came from wheat, oats, flaxseed, barley, hay, and forage. Most of the State may be profitably farmed, and more than half of it is already improved. Of the total area of the State, 63.6 per cent in 1910 was in farms, and 72 per cent of this, or 45.5 per cent of the whole, was improved.


The population of the State is still small, but it is growing rapidly from natural increase, from foreign immigration, and from immigration from other States, mostly from those of the Middle West. The population of the territory now included in North Dakota was 2,405 in 1870; 36,909 in 1880; 190,983 in 1890; 319,146 in 1900; 577,056 in 1910; and is approximately 700,000 in 1916. This indicates a probable population of 2,000,000 by the middle of the century. The population is now about 10 to the square mile. With a population of 2,000,000 there will be a little less than 30 to the square mile. Formerly a very large majority of the people of the State lived in the eastern half, but the population is now more evenly distributed. In 1910, 40 per cent lived west of a line drawn through the western boundary of McIntosh, Logan, Kidder, Wells, Pierce, and Rolette Counties. Probably 45 per cent are now west of this line.

North Dakota is definitely a rural State with rural interests, and although the population of the cities and towns will continue to increase more rapidly in proportion than the population of the rural districts, as it has done for many years, the life and interest of the State will continue to be predominantly rural for decades to come. There are no large cities in the State and none near it. On the north lies Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with their sparse populations; on the south South Dakota, and on the west and southwest Montana. Wyoming, and Idaho, all without large cities and with a population still more sparse than that of North Dakota. The nearest cities with a population as large as 100,000 are St. Paul and Minneapolis, more than 200 miles east of the Red River; and Omaha, Des Moines, Kansas City, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Spokane, from 400 to 1,000 miles to the south, southwest, and west. There will probably be no large cities in the State and few near it within the next quarter or half century, but there will be many small towns, centers of agricultural communities, with their local commerce and varied small local industries.

In 1910 there were only five places with a population of 5,000 or more, and only two with a population greater than 10,000. Only 95,381 people lived in the 34 places of 1,000 population and over. This was only 16.5 per cent of the total population; 83.5 per cent of the population lived in the open country and in towns and villages of less than 1,000. Only 28 per cent lived in the 226 cities, towns, and villages of all sizes, 142 of which had less than 500 inhabitants. Only 11 per cent lived in towns and cities of 2,500 and over; 89 per cent of the total population and 90.3 per cent of the population between 10 and 20 years old were rural as counted by the United States census. Even the people in urban communities lived largely under rural conditions as to housing, as is shown by the fact that in 1910 there were

in the State 118,757 separate dwelling houses for a total of 120,910 families.


More than 70 per cent of the population of North Dakota are foreign born or of immediate foreign descent, as may be noted in

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More than 70 per cent of the population of North Dakota are foreign-born or of immediate foreign descent, the foreign elements consisting largely of immigrants from those strong and virile stocks of northern and western Europe, whose peoples have shown special capacity for adapting themselves to American conditions and ideals. (See Table 1.)

Table 1 and Figure 1. It may be noted further that the foreign elements are of the most desirable types, coming largely from those countries of northern and western Europe whose peoples have shown special capacity for adapting themselves to American conditions and ideals.

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