University Museums

Title: Seaman Asahel Knapp, head, Agriculture program, 1879-01883; President, Iowa State College, 1883-1884
Name: Portrait
Date: 1914
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 33 x 39 in. (83.8 x 99.1 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Gift of the Class of 1884. In the Presidential Portrait Collection, Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Parks Library
Object Number: U88.8
More Information
A New York native, Seaman Knapp and his wife, Maria, were running Ripley Female College in Vermont when he sustained a crippling knee injury while playing ball with the girls. To find a cure, the couple moved to Vinton, Iowa, in 1866. The couple farmed, he became a Methodist minister and later director of the Iowa School for the Blind. He gained notice as a stockman, speaker and farm journalist, and in 1879 was appointed to head Iowa State’s program in agriculture. Knapp’s strongest interest was promoting farm experimentation. He authored the original version of what became the Hatch Act and led the movement that created the national cooperative extension network in 1914. He served a one-year term as president of Iowa State College in 1883-1884, before leaving to enter a distinguished career in southern agriculture. He helped develop the rice industry in Louisiana and set up a demonstration system to promote better farming practices to combat the boll weevil in Texas.

Fast fact: Knapp Hall, one of two residence halls south of the Iowa State University campus demolished in 2005, was named for Seaman Knapp.