Joseph Krauskopf 1877
Joseph Krauskopf was born in 1858 in Ostrowo, Prussia.
He was the younger of two sons of Hirsch Krauskopf,
a lumber dealer who harvested trees from state-controlled
forests. By the age of twelve he had finished the mandatory
education of the time and began to work with his father.
The business was small and the family poor, but from
the work Joseph developed a love of the outdoors and
physical endurance that served him well throughout his
At the age of fourteen his parents made arrangements
for him to come to America, "the land of opportunity."
He made the journey alone and traveled to Fall River,
Massachusetts, where a cousin lived. There he found
a job as clerk in a tea merchant's shop and began the
task of educating himself, with
particular emphasis on learning English.
When he heard of the founding of the first American
seminary to train Rabbis, (Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati,
Ohio) he applied and was accepted.
Tuition was provided on a scholarship basis, but to earn
room and board he did tutoring, wrote for Jewish journals,
edited a weekly paper for children, and together with his
roommate, Henry Berkowitz, wrote three childrens books.
During Joseph Krauskopf's first four years at Hebrew
Union College he attended high school in the morning
and seminary in the afternoon. The following four years
found him at the University of Cincinnati, while continuing
his rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College. He received the
Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati
in June of 1883 and in July, the same year, he was ordained
Rabbi. The eight years he had spent in concentrated
study set a pattern that continued throughout his life.
He began his ministry in Kansas City, Missouri. There
he served with distinction for four years. He was eager,
tireless, and active from the beginning in projects
of social justice. He founded the "Free Labor Bureau",
an interfaith project to aid the unemployed; he arranged
for low-cost housing for impoverished families; he spoke
out against child labor. His efforts were recognized
by the Governor of Missouri, who appointed him life
member of the Board of National Charities and Corrections.
Hebrew Union College conferred the Doctor of Divinity
Degree upon him in 1886.
Joseph Krauskopf 1884
The following year he moved to Philadelphia
to Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, a congregation in
the forefront of Reform Judaism in America. At twenty-nine
years old, he succeeded one of the most venerable and learned
of Reform scholars, Rabbi Samuel Hirsch. Another man might
have quaked at the thought, but Joseph Krauskopf merely grew
a beard and set to work!
One of his first moves at Keneseth Israel was to initiate
a regular weekly Sunday service, in addition to Saturday services.
During the first five years of his ministry, the temple was
enlarged twice to accommodate the growing congregation. While
serving its needs, he was in constant demand as a lecturer
before Jewish and non-Jewish bodies.
In Philadelphia he was honored as the founder of the "Patriotic
Society of Philadelphia". He helped start a "Model
Kitchen" to teach immigrants economical and healthful
preparation of foods. He was responsible for the creation
of the "Model Dwelling Association", an attempt
to rid the city of slums; and, in response to his urging,
the Jewish Publication Society of America was founded in Philadelphia
The 1880's saw thousands of immigrants from Eastern Europe
flock to America. Many remained in coastal cities where living
conditions became crowded and unhealthy. Dr. Krauskopf believed
that the problems of congested cities could be solved by teaching
immigrants to farm the rich, fertile, open land in America.
In the summer of 1894 he traveled to Russia where the Jews
were denied ownership of land and the opportunity to pursue
agriculture, the calling of their ancestors. He believed a
personal appeal to the Czar might help,
but the Czar would not see him. Instead, Dr.
Krauskopf spent time visiting Count Leo Tolstoy
who advised him to return to America and "lead
the tens of thousands from your congested cities to
your idle, fertile lands..."
Upon his return to America, Rabbi Krauskopf began working
to establish a school to train young men to be practical,
working farmers. He recognized that to farm successfully
one needed more than desire; one needed training in
scientific methods. Science with practice
was his motto. Although his school was founded primarily
with the needs of young Jewish men in mind, he insisted
the school be open to boys of all faiths and backgrounds.
With money he had saved from lecturing along with some
donations, he purchased for his school a farm of 118
acres near Doylestown, Pennsylvania. From the proceeds
of another lecture tour and some
donations, he raised $10,000, which he used to erect one
building that contained a classroom, dormitory rooms, dining
room, kitchen, laundry, gymnasium, office and quarters for
the dean. In 1896 he obtained a charter for the school, and
in September of 1897 the first class of ten students came
to it from all parts of the country. Education, housing, food
and clothing were furnished free of charge.
Dr. Krauskopf gave his school a grand name, The
National Farm School. It soon grew in both size
and prestige. In time it became known as a model agricultural
school, where theory and practice were combined. With
tireless energy and persistence, he brought about success
for the school, and its success brought him honors and
work he never expected.
During the Spanish American War, President McKinley
appointed him Special Field Commissioner to study and report
on the conditions in U.S. Army camps in Cuba. Then, in 1900,
the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture sent
Joseph Krauskopf in Cuba during the Spanish
American War, 1898
him to Europe to investigate and report on
agricultural education and conditions of agriculture there.
During World War I he was asked to work with Herbert Hoover
as a director of the Food Conservation Commission.
Dr. Krauskopf wrote books on a variety of subjects, and his
weekly Sunday sermons were published and distributed to readers
throughout the world. (There are 35 volumes of his sermons
in the archives of Delaware Valley College.)
Joseph Krauskopf died in 1923. The school that he founded
continued to thrive. He had built well. Within twenty-five
years, its property had expanded to more than fifteen hundred
acres with thriving fields and orchards, herds of cattle,
flocks of poultry and several greenhouses. Graduates went
on to accomplish much in farm-related areas, as well as in
other fields. At the school's Silver Jubilee personal commendations
came from President Calvin Coolidge, from the Secretary of
Agriculture, William M. Jardine, and from leaders in agriculture
Rabbi Krauskopf's school was known as the National Farm School
until 1946 when it became the National
Painting of Dr. Krauskopf
Farm School & Junior College, under the leadership
of its president, James Work, a 1913 graduate of
the National Farm School. In 1946 the Board of
Trustees realized that the science of agriculture had
become more complicated: research had opened new fields,
students (most especially young men returning from service
in the armed forces) were searching for more than a
junior college education. So two years after becoming
a junior college, a program of expansion was begun.
Buildings were remodeled, new classrooms and laboratories
furnished and the National Farm School & Junior
College was accredited in 1948 as the National Agricultural
College, a four-year senior college. Another change
came in 1960. The school was renamed Delaware Valley
College of Science and Agriculture and in 1962 it was
accredited by the Middle States Association of
Colleges. In 1989 the name was officially shortened
to Delaware Valley College.
Many changes have taken place since the days of Joseph
Krauskopf, changes indicated by advancements in science
However, "Science with Practice," the founder's
unique educational philosophy, still remains the cornerstone
of a Delaware Valley College education.
Joseph Krauskopf speaking at Independence
Hall, Philadelphia 1914