Richard Welling Roskelley was born on May 30, 1906, to Richard and Hilda Marie Roskelley in Smithfield, Utah. He was grandson of Samuel and Mary Roberts Roskelley who helped settle Smithfield. He was raised on a farm in Smithfield and attended high school there. Attending the Brigham Young College for two years, he graduated in 1926, the year the school closed. During his two years Roskelley served as class president both years, an editor of the annual, and a member of the debating society. Following graduation he taught at Lewiston Junior High in Lewiston, Utah, where one of his students was a young Glenn Taggart, who later became President of Utah State University. He taught for one year and then left for an LDS mission to the Germany/Austria Mission for thirty months, until 1930. During his time there he was put in charge of the LDS Sunday School in Germany and led the first group of German Boy Scouts to the World Jamboree in England. He was also once involved in a skirmish with the Hitler Youth who wanted to get some of the Mormon boys to join.
After Roskelley returned from his mission he continued his education at the Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University) in Logan and graduated in 1932 with a degree in sociology. In 1933 he obtained his Masters Degree in sociology from USAC. He found temporary work with the Agricultural Experimental Station from 1931 to 1933. Because of the Depression he had a difficult time finding a job in sociology, but he contacted Dr. Joseph A. Geddes, professor of Sociology at USAC, and Dr. John A Widtsoe, professor at USAC and an Apostle in the LDS Church. They helped him get a job as an LDS Seminary teacher and principal in Rigby, Idaho. He remained there until 1935 and while living there he met Fawn Branson, whom he married on August 21, 1935, with Johan A. Widtsoe performing the ceremony. The couple had three children, Gene Richard, Janice, and Suzann.
The newlywed couple moved to Wisconsin where Roskelley attended the University of Wisconsin. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1938 writing his thesis on the attitudes and behaviors of rural Mormons in Rigby, Idaho regarding alcohol consumption and prohibition. During his time there he also worked as a teaching assistant to Dr. Seaman A. Knapp, a widely respected rural sociologist, and Dr. Kimball Young.
He soon obtained a position on the staff of the Experimental Station and the Agricultural Extension Service Program at Colorado State College. He held that position until 1945 and also taught summer school extension courses in Ft. Collins, Colorado, at the Western Regional Extension Summer School. He continued to return to Ft. Collins to teach summer school until 1951. In 1945, he moved his family to Washington State College where he taught until 1947.
In 1947, Roskelley was offered the position as Chairman of the Department of Sociology, recently formed by his mentor Joseph Geddes, at Utah State Agricultural College. He taught introductory sociology courses and rural sociology as well as Agricultural Extension Seminars for many years. From November 1951 to September 1954, Dr. Roskelley was Chief of the Food and Agriculture Program for the United State Agency for International Development (USAID) in Iran. He helped develop some programs and was involved during the founding of Karaj Agricultural College. By his own admission Dr. Roskelley felt that he was not well equipped to lead this project and he later said that many of the programs did not work because neither he nor his team knew much about building indigenous institutions which could survive independent of the foreign aid. His writings on this topic led him to be one of four scholars selected by USAID in 1965 to study why so much US foreign aid was not working as it was intended. Dr. Roskelley stepped down as Chairman of the Sociology Department and spent the next three years traveling the world as the Senior Research Analyst for Southeast Asia. He studied institution building at Cornell, in Pakistan, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines for next few years during which time he became well acquainted with Dr James Y. C. Yen of the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction, Dr. Hu Shih of China, and Dr. Norman Borlaug, who later won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in helping rural farmers in Central and South America. This project led to the publication of book in 1969 called Building Institutions to Serve Agriculture.
In 1971 Dr. Roskelley retired from USU and the next year he was invited by Dr. James Yen to come to Philippines and apply what he had learned at USAID. For the next four years Dr Roskelley lived and worked in Silang, Cavite Province, in the Philippines. The program he and others developed there was called the Farmer Scholar Program and centered on teaching local leaders how to improve their agriculture and then how to teach others how to improve their education. This led to the development of many rural schools in 41 villages throughout Cavite Province. Later the World Bank granted a multimillion dollar loan to the Philippines to implement this program nationwide. In 1975, Dr. Roskelley was honored by the government of Cavite Province and the Philippines and was made an honorary son of Cavite. When he returned in 1977 he was honored by the Utah Sociological Society as Sociologist of the Year. In October of that same year a banquet in his honor was held by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Rockefeller Foundation.
In 1978 Dr. Roskelley traveled to Mexico, Bolivia, and Ecuador to help adapt the Farmer Scholar Program to Central America. Also during this time he helped run the Keys for Rural Development Seminars held at Utah State University and sponsored by USAID, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Office of International Programs, USU. These ran from 1978 until 1983 and brought rural leaders from South America, the Middle East and Africa to USU to train them in improving their communities.
Throughout his life Dr. Roskelley was active in the LDS Church. He was Branch President in Wisconsin and the Philippines, a Sunday school teacher, among many other leadership positions. He conducted three sociological studies for the LDS Church in the 1970s. One was a records study to help improve local record keeping in rural areas, and the other two were conducted for the Women's Relief Society. One centered on improving the monthly home visiting program called Visiting Teaching, and the other was on helping determine and better meet the social and spiritual needs of LDS women.
Dr. Roskelley loved agriculture and always maintained a farm in Smithfield along with cattle and horses, some of which were nationally recognized show horses. He stayed active in civic affairs, especially when they affected agriculture and water rights. In the late 1980s Dr. Roskelley moved into the Williamsburg Retirement Inn in Logan, Utah because of his failing health. He died on February 22, 1991, at the age of 84 and was buried in the Smithfield Cemetery.
The Papers of R. Welling Roskelley comprise the personal and professional papers from Dr. Roskelley's long service as a professor of rural sociology and as an active participant in agricultural extension and international rural development. The collection has been divided in to four series for ease in organization. The first series (Boxes 1-10) contains personal and family files. This includes biographical data, personal correspondence, and journals of Dr. Roskelley. Box 2 contains a collection of ‘quote journals’ that Dr. Roskelley and his father kept over the years in which they collected famous and inspirational quotes. Box 3 contains items from the Roskelley Family Association and the Roskelley family newsletter, the Roskelley Organ. Boxes 5 and 6 contain family files for Dr. Roskelley's father, Richard Roskelley, and his grandfather, Samuel Roskelley. These include biographies, newspaper clippings, and genealogical files. Box 6 contains deed and religious blessings from the early twentieth century in Smithfield, Utah, as well as property deeds and mortgages from farmers in early Smithfield. Boxes 7, 8, and 9 contain personal correspondence organized by the correspondent. Box 9 contains correspondence between Dr. Roskelley and his wife during the periods he worked overseas, as well as some outgoing correspondence organized by date. Box 10, the final box of personal files contains items related to Dr. Roskelley's activities in the LDS Church including programs for special events, the papers of a records program he helped initiate while serving as an ecclesiastical leader, and some of the files from his son's (Gene Richard's) LDS missionary service to Hong Kong in the 1950s.
Series II (Boxes 11-31) comprises the professional papers of Dr. Roskelley as well as a collection of publications from organization with which he was intimately involved, such as the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction and the Rockefeller Foundation. Box 11 relates to two studies he conducted for the Women's Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Box 12 contains syllabi and lecture notes from Dr. Roskelley's time as a college professor. Boxes 13 through 20 contain the professional writings of Dr. Roskelley. The first three contain individual articles alphabetized by title. Box 16 contains an untitled manuscript simply labeled by Dr. Roskelley as Documents I through VII. Some of the titles of this particular box are the same as those in the alphabetized collection, but since they comprise a separate, organized book they have been repeated here. Box 17 contains one draft and the final of Dr. Roskelley's Master's Thesis on the LDS Missionary system. Boxes 18 and 19 contain research files and surveys from his Doctorate Thesis and Box 20 contains drafts and the final of his thesis which analyzed the beliefs and behaviors of the LDS residents of Rigby, Idaho in regards to alcohol use and prohibition.
Boxes 21 through 29 contain papers related to and publications from various international rural and agricultural organizations such as USAID, the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction, El Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo (CIMMYT), and USU Extension programs. Box 22, which contains USAID publications, also has several articles, comprising folders 7 through 17, written by Dr. Roskelley. They were placed in this section because they were written for and published by USAID. Some of them have redundant copies in boxes 13 through 15 above. Of special note is Box 26, which relates to USU and its work with Iran during the 1950s when Dr. Roskelley was working there. This includes memoirs of the work by Dr. Roskelley, reports, pamphlets, and copies of the founding papers of the Karaj Agricultural College, which USU helped to establish. Box 29 contains various organizations, particularly those from Central America. Box 30 and 31 contains records and notes from the many Keys Seminars for international rural development hosted by Utah State University during the 1970s and 1980s, and sponsored by USAID.
Series III (Boxes 32-40) contains documentation from the Farmer Scholar Program in which Dr. Roskelley participated during the 1970s and 1980s. Box 32 contains chapter outline notes as well as some transcripts from the audiotapes produced for the program. Box 33 to Box 36 are the chapter-by-chapter research files. They do not match exactly with the chapters in the final publication (which is available in Special Collection and Archives book collection) because he reorganized and renamed them. However the labeling and organization of his research notes has been maintained here. Box 37 contains the original draft of the Farmer Scholar Program Documentation Volumes I through III. Box 38 has the English translations of the transcripts for the audiotapes. Boxes 39 and 40 contain presentations, memoirs, and specific reports from the implementation of the Farmer Scholar Program in the Philippines and in Central America.
The final Series (Boxes 41-49) contains general sociological research files covering the main areas in which Dr. Roskelley specialized: Rural Sociology, Institution Building, and Rural Development. The have been organized by topic and title. Finally, the collection has two boxes, which contain plaques and scrapbooks from Dr. Roskelley's overseas work, including the document that proclaimed him an adopted son of the Philippines.
Restrictions on Access :
No restrictions on use, except: not available through interlibrary loan.Restrictions on Use :
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.
Permission to publish material from the Richard Welling Roskelley Papers must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.Preferred Citation :
Initial Citation: Richard Welling Roskelley Papers USU_COLL MSS 284, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library. Logan, Utah.
Following Citations:USU_COLL MSS 284, USUSCA.
Arranged into four series.
Processing Note :
Processed in April of 2004Acquisition Information :
This collection has come to Utah State University in several different donations. An earlier, much smaller collection of Dr. Roskelley's papers was attached to COLL MSS 65 which contains the journals and papers of R. Welling Roskelley's grandfather, Samuel Roskelley. It has not been incorporated into this collection. In 1990 Dr. Roskelley's son-in-law, LaVell Saunders donated much of the material now contained in this collection. A subsequent donation was made by the family in 1993 after Dr. Roskelley's death. In 1997, Richard Saunders, son of LaVell Saunders, donated the journals of Richard Roskelley, the math of text of Samuel Roskelley, and the photo albums among other items.Related Materials :
Roskelley Family Photograph Collection P0013 P0013
More materials on the Roskelley family are available inCOLL MSS 65Separated Materials :
Some items have been removed into the R. Welling Roskelley photograph collection, which contains personal photos, historic photos of Samuel Roskelley and early Cache Valley, and many photos from Iran, Mexico, the Philippines, West Africa, and the many other areas Dr. Roskelley visited while working for USAID. This also includes some 8mm filmstrips from the Philippines.
Detailed Description of the Collection