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The Extension Division

In 1921 President Franklin S. Harris proposed the establishment of an Extension Division at Brigham Young University. The Extension Division’s main purpose was to broaden the reach of the university and to allow it to have a positive impact on the lives of residents of Utah and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Lowry Nelson was appointed as the Extension Division’s first director and immediately set to work creating a successful correspondence program and establishing extension courses in the local community. The Extension Division was composed of four major sections: 1) The Bureau of Social Service, 2) The Bureau of Publications, 3) The Bureau of Correspondence Study, and 4) The Bureau of Lectures and Entertainments. Within two months of establishing this organization the Extension Division had reached out to 8500 members of the local community.

Alpine Summer School staff 1920s (Lowry Nelson is on the 2nd row, 4th in from the left wearing glasses)

Alpine Summer School staff 1920s (Lowry Nelson is on the 2nd row, 4th in from the left wearing glasses)

The two most popular programs run by the Extension Division were the Alpine Summer School and Leadership Week (the predecessor of Education Week). The Extension Division relied heavily on the faculty of Brigham Young University to run both of these programs and faculty were also conducted correspondence courses as well as lecturing on a variety of topics.

The University Archives is home to several collections that document the Extension Division and its development. They include:

  • UA OH 1 Lowry Nelson oral history interview, Sept. 3, 1963. In this oral history Nelson discusses the development of the Extension Division as well as aspects of university life.
  • UA 292 Lowry Nelson letter, 1945. Letter from Lowry Nelson to T. Earl Pardoe giving a brief history and overview of the Extension Division.
  • UA 547 Division of Continuing Education records, 1921-1988. This collection contains files of the Deans and Directors. Includes records for Education week, leadership conferences, Travel Study, Home Study, evening classes, Special Courses and Conferences, community education, Salt Lake Center, and a brief history of the Division. Click here to access the finding aid for this collection.

If you would like to learn more about the sources available on the Extension Division at Brigham Young University , please contact the University Archivist at (801) 422-5821 or gordon_daines@byu.edu .

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