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FARMERS' HOME IMPROVEMENT SOCIETY

FARMERS' HOME IMPROVEMENT SOCIETY. The Farmers' Home Improvement Society (also known as the Farmers' Improvement Society) was founded in 1890 by Robert Lloyd Smith at Oakland, Colorado County, as a farmers' association for African Americans. The purposes of the society were to abolish the share-cropping and credit system that ensnared poor farmers, encourage self-sufficiency, promote home and farm ownership, promote crop diversification and use of improved farming methods, foster cooperative buying and selling, provide sickness and health benefits, and encourage the social and moral elevation of members. By 1898 the society claimed 1,800 members; by 1900 it had grown to eighty-six branches and 2,340 members; and by 1909 it had 21,000 members spread over Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. In 1909 its cooperative business was estimated at $50,000 a year. In 1912 the membership owned 75,000 acres of land valued at considerably over $1 million. The society sponsored agricultural fairs to demonstrate the effectiveness of its programs. In addition to the cooperative business, it established the Farmers' Improvement Agricultural College at Wolfe City in 1906 and, to implement the overall program, the Farmers' Bank at Waco in 1911. During the late teens and early 1920s the society gradually declined, but for more than twenty years it contributed more than any other organization to elevating the status of blacks in Texas.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Robert Carroll, Robert Lloyd Smith and the Farmers' Improvement Society of Texas (M.A. thesis, Baylor University, 1974).

Lawrence D. Rice

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Lawrence D. Rice, "FARMERS' HOME IMPROVEMENT SOCIETY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/aaf03), accessed July 29, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on September 4, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.