Prepared by: Sheena Wilson & Lindsay Boknight (March 27, 2022) Edited & Curated by: Dr. T. DeWayne Moore (November 4, 2022)
Title of Collection: UA0006 – John Milton Coruthers Papers
Extent: 0.25 linear feet, (15 folders)
Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.
Use Restrictions: Written permission must be obtained from the Special Collections/ Archives Department and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.
Biographical Note: Born on April 15, 1900 to John and Rosa Coruthers, John Milton Coruthers grew up on his parents farm in Bastrop County, Texas. He had two brothers and six sisters. At age fifteen, his parents decided to sell their farm and find better facilities for their children to attend school in San Antonio, Texas. After graduation from Douglass High School, he worked in the dining car for the Southern Pacific Railroad to help support his family prior to attending college at the Hampton Institute. Once in Virginia, he started to work at the institute’s dairy, getting up at 4 a.m. in order to finish his work, shower, and attend class. He made good grades while working towards his Bachelor’s Degree, and he went on to attend the University of Wisconsin, where he succeeded in getting a fellowship and worked in the laboratory with dairy products–processing varieties of cheese and manufacturing ice cream–along with studies for his master’s degree.
After graduation, he accepted a teaching position at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he worked with one former schoolmate from Hampton, who served as the Director of the Agricultural Department. During his four years in Louisiana, he met his future wife, Susie E. Norwood, who worked as a secretary and registrar. The couple were married June 30, 1929.
Coruthers later accepted a position as Director of the Agricultural Department at A&M College, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he remained for the next eight years. He secured leave of absence one summer and taught in the Regional School for Home Demonstration and Farm Agents, sponsored by the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), at South Carolina State College. He returned to Pine Bluff for the Winter Session, and the following summer, he was appointed Director of the Regional School for Home and Farm Agents at Pine Bluff, Arkansas. During a commencement program while at Pine Bluff, an usher brought a note requesting that he come to the President’s office immediately. He was introduced to a Rosenwald Representative, and he was told that the Rosenwald Foundation was giving grants to several Land-Grant Colleges for training teachers in Agricultural Economics. Coruthers received one of the scholarships, and he chose to study at Cornell University, where he earned his Ph.D.
Coruthers believed that the years he spent as a student were very rewarding in many ways, and he was very grateful for the education and associations acquired while attending various schools. When asked why he returned to school when he already had his doctorate, he explained that the world was sorely in need of people who will think as well as calculate, and the new ideas and methods of teaching should go a long way towards producing more alert and unique graduates with special skills. When Coruthers was asked what he considered to be the best qualities of a good teacher, he he agreed with Foy D. Kohler: “Be firm, be patient, be persistent, and be polite.”
After working for thirty years at PVAMU, this mild-mannered scholar with a keen sense of humor retired on August 31, 1967. He was best remembered by students and staff for his experimental projects with farm products, such as vegetable and flower gardens. He served as president of the Community Garden Club, and directed the annual College Community Flower Show. His vegetable gardens were a landmark of Prairie View, and he continued gardening in retirement. He was buried in Prairie View Memorial Gardens Cemetery. He was survived by his devoted wife, Susie N. Caruthers, two daughters, a son, and a host of family and friends.
Biography by Lindsay Boknight & Dr. DeWayne Moore
Scope & Contents: The John Milton Coruthers Papers contain materials related to the agriculture and horticulture in Texas from 1944-1975. This small collection consists of a few personal items, letters and programs related to Prairie View A&M University, as well as press releases and printed materials on the agricultural extension service.
Arrangement: Collection is arranged in two series by subject and format. Series are arranged within each series chronologically by date.
Series I Personal Materials
Series II Agriculture and Horticulture Press Releases and Publications, 1942-1953
Preferred Citation: John Milton Coruthers Papers, UA 0006, Special Collections/Archives Department, John B. Coleman Library, Prairie View A&M University
Coruthers, John Milton (1900-1975)
Prairie View University. Agricultural Extension Services
Series I Personal Materials
This series contains a funeral program, event programs, and letters from 1948- 1975.
Letter from E.M. Norris, September 28, 1948
Letter from J.M. Coruthers to H.S. Estelle, May 20, 1948
Prairie View Garden Club, June 13, 1951
Prairie View A &M College Movie Schedule, 1970-1971
Series 2 Agriculture and Horticulture Press Releases and Publications, 1942-1953
This series contains newsletters, handouts, and press releases on horticulture and agriculture, including newsletters on Victory Gardens.