The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/General Education Board
GENERAL EDUCATION BOARD, an organization chartered by Congress in 1903, primarily to enable John D. Rockefeller to distribute his gifts and aids to education, and secondarily to make it possible for other men of means to promote the advancement of education in the United States in a more effective and systematic manner than had heretofore been possible. The sphere of the General Education Board embraces the promotion of practical farming and of public high schools in the Southern States; of negro education and institutions of higher education everywhere throughout the United States. Under an agreement entered into with the United States Department of Agriculture in 1906 the General Education Board contributed $405,700 for the promotion of practical farming within the province of the charter of the organization. This was employed in promoting demonstration farms and the furnishing of instructors for the education of farmers. The work of the Board also influenced the practical teaching of agriculture in the schools of the South. In the promotion of public high schools in the Southern States the Board appropriates for the use of each State Department of Education or State University the funds necessary to pay the salary and traveling expenses of a special high school representative whose business it is to stir up public sentiment in favor of public high schools, and to organize the different sections where he is at work so as to promote the end in view. The Board has already devoted large sums of money to this department of its work; and the high school representatives paid by it have raised several millions of dollars for the establishment of public high schools in the South. So effective was this part of the work that by 1911 over 700 new high schools had been opened through direct work of the Board. On the same date the General Education Board had already appropriated over $25,000,000 as gifts to encourage institutions of higher learning made to some 82 colleges and universities in the United States and for other educational ends. Of this sum $2,300,000 went to colleges in the Southern States; $2,510,000 to those of the Western States; $1,805,000 to those in the Middle and Eastern States. About half a million dollars had also been devoted by the Board for the promotion of negro education.
The work of the General Education Board has both a practical and a social side. Over 200,000 farmers are being influenced for the betterment of agriculture by its exertions, while State agents paid by the Board have for some time been conducting demonstration work among boys under actual farming conditions, and by the establishment of “corn” and other clubs. Other clubs of a social nature have been organized for the promotion of more social life in farming communities; while educative clubs to study house management, poultry, preservation of fruit and other subjects directly related with agricultural life have also been encouraged in various ways, more especially in connection with the girl's clubs.
Since 1911 the work of encouraging the establishment of public high schools in the United States has progressed rapidly, carried along by its own momentum and the ceaseless work of the educational representatives of the Board. But the same may be said of the work of the Board in all the departments of its self-imposed activities.