Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Alan I. Marcus


This dissertation focuses on the origins, scientific research, and impact of German agricultural experiment stations in the nineteenth century. At the time, German experiment stations held a commanding status in chemistry and life sciences research, German agricultural scientists established themselves an important scientific community, and German stations contributed to their nation's economic and industrial prominence;The dissertation emphasizes conflicts among the stations' three major constituencies. Profit-minded agriculturists were among the first to promote agricultural science. Generally speaking, they expected agricultural science to serve their immediate and practical interests, though they also employed a rhetoric of economic development and national unity to justify new institutions. By the 1850s and 1860s, agriculturists and their organizations had provided the funds and facilities to establish dozens of experiment stations in the German states. Agricultural scientists soon challenged agriculturalists for control of the stations. As their research programs gained credibility and viability, agricultural scientists insisted that they alone offered the expertise, data, and method to direct experiment station programs. By linking experiment stations with universities, professional organizations, and fixed training programs, agricultural scientists achieved an impressive degree of status and authority. Many government bureaucrats and industrialists also embraced the experiment stations, arguing that the agricultural sciences offered opportunities to forge German national unity, economic security, and industrial expansion. Indeed, experiment station research often directly served Germany's chemical fertilizer, beet sugar, and alcohol distillation industries;The dissertation also studies German stations' impact in several other nations. By 1890, many of the world's independent nations had established experiment stations of some kind. Though none replicated German stations exactly, nearly all owed their origins to the same rhetoric and rationale that Germans had used to justify agricultural science institutions just a few decades earlier;Agricultural experiment stations lay at the intersection of many issues in German history. Not only did they illustrate developments in the history of German science, but they also showed connections among German scientific institutions and the topics of German economic development, political unification, and social and educational reform. Above all, this study shows the conflicts and cooperation among science, practice, and politics in nineteenth-century German history.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Mark Russell Finlay



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

442 pages