Extension, Enterprise, and Education: The Legacy of Co-operatives and Cooperation in Utah


Co-operatives are voluntary associations jointly-owned and operated for the benefit of those using their services. While the Co-operative Movement was a worldwide phenomena in the 1800s, it was particularly strong and pervasive early on in Utah. Nineteenth-century Utah pioneers embraced the spirit of cooperation, building shared irrigation systems and establishing co-op stores within their communities. The co-operative spirit exemplified in Mormon communities followed Utahns into the twentieth century as farmers continued to associate in a variety of co-operative enterprises. Utah State University, founded in 1888 as Utah Agricultural College, further promoted these principles -- even before Congress established the Co-operative Extension Service in 1914, the University was conducting conferences for Utah's farmers and homemakers.

This digital history of agricultural cooperatives in Utah extends from the experiences of early Latter-day Saint pioneers to formation of the Utah Co-operative Association (UCA) and its ultimate absorption by the Farmer's Union Central Exchange (CENEX) in 1976. The collection's images, papers, reports, pamphlets, and audio clips illustrate the history of farmer co-operatives throughout Utah and the movement's longstanding connection with USU.


  • Alison Fabricius Gardner – Research, writing, material selection, and digital exhibit creation (Student Assistant, Digital Initiatives Department)
  • Emily G. Thompson – Research, writing, and material selection (Graduate Intern, Special Collections & Archives)
  • Dustin Olson – Technology assistance (Systems Administrator, Systems)
  • Robert Parson – Advising and research & writing assistance (University Archivist, Special Collections & Archives)
  • Darcy Pumphrey – Project management and advising (Digital Library Coordinator, Digital Initiatives Department)
  • Branson Roskelley – Digital exhibit & metadata advising (Staff Assistant, Digital Initiatives Department)
  • Sara Skindelien – Metadata & material selection assistance (Staff Assistant, Special Collections & Archives)
  • Mikkel Skinner – Graphics (Graphic Designer, Administration)
  • Scanning Technicians:
    • Jennika Anderson 
    • Kelvin Bloxham 
    • Amanda Cook 
    • Moana Fullmer 
    • Jake Matthews
    • Russell Weekes