- Series: Studies in American Popular History and Culture
- Hardcover: 258 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (April 27, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415972868
- ISBN-13: 978-0415972864
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,350,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Farm Press, Reform and Rural Change, 1895-1920 (Studies in American Popular History and Culture) 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Garth Brooks: The Anthology Part 1 | Limited Edition
A great gift for country music fans, The Anthology Part 1 includes CDs containing the music of Garth's first five years, and behind-the-scenes photographs and stories never before made public. Learn more
About the Author
John Fry is Assistant Professor of History at Trinity Christian College.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
My advisor in graduate school used to say there were only two important questions to ask when one undertakes a research project: "what's in and what's out?" and "so what?" Another way to ask the "so what" question is to say, "What will you know more about if you read my book?" Well, I hope that you'll know more about the Farm Press, Rural People, and Country Life Progressivism. The simpler, and more alliterative, way of expressing this would be people, the press, and Progressivism.
If you read my book, you'll learn something about the Midwestern Farm Press. Published in cities such as Chicago, Des Moines, and Saint Louis, farm newspapers were sent to hundreds of thousands of rural homes across the Midwest. In 1920, the Prairie Farmer, published here in Chicago, had a circulation of around one hundred thousand. This was pretty good, considering the number of farms in Illinois was about two hundred thousand. (Pause) Most Midwestern farm newspapers cost $1 a year (between $10 and $20 in today's money, depending on the year between 1895 and 1920). They were published weekly and ranged from 64 to 200 pages an issue, depending on the season. Papers were much longer during the winter, because that's when farmers and their families had leisure to read and look at advertisements. Farm newspapers reached out to all farmers, both rich and poor; all kinds of farmers subscribed, including land owners, renters, and even sharecroppers. A 1913 survey by the USDA revealed that roughly 75% of rural Midwesterners surveyed received at least one farm newspaper. Farm papers reached out to these people by keeping subscription costs low, making special offers, and providing something for every member of the farm family: articles on crop farming and livestock care, editorials about railroad legislation, columns on housekeeping and food preparation, games for the kids, even serialized fiction. So, if you read my book, you'll learn more about the farm press and what it looked like at the turn of the twentieth century.
You'll also learn something about American Progressivism. Progressivism is a difficult movement for historians to describe briefly, but basically it was a loose movement of activists who called for reform of the new American urban and industrial society. Many progressives hoped to transform the new urban centers, like Chicago, in ways that approximated the small town and rural communities in which they had grown up. But some Progressives also had a reform program for the countryside. It was called the Country Life Movement. Country Life Reformers were concerned about life on farms, often because they thought that too many people were leaving for cities. They hoped to change rural life to make it more attractive for young rural men and women, so that they'd stay on the farm. Ironically, this often meant making rural institutions, especially the rural church, the rural school, and rural households, more like their urban counterparts. Since most farm newspapers were published and edited in cities, many of them were influenced by Progressivism. Farm newspapers thus became forums for the discussion of Progressive, Country Life ideas. So if you read the book, I hope you'll learn more than you knew before about Country Life Progressivism.
Finally, if you read the book, you'll learn more about Rural People. You'll learn about the first Henry Wallace, the grandfather of Henry A. Wallace (who became Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Vice President and ran for President in 1948). The first Henry Wallace, or Uncle Henry, as he was known to his readership, was born on a farm in Western Pennsylvania. He left the farm to become a Presbyterian Pastor. He subsequently left the pastorate to return to farming, and ended up as the editor and publisher of Wallaces' Farmer, one of two major farm newspapers published in Des Moines. His concern for farming and his ability to use the Bible in an argument were both showcased in his columns. You'll also learn about Burridge D. Butler, who came to own the Prairie Farmer after running a chain of almost a dozen Midwestern daily newspapers. During the 1920s, Butler also bought the radio station WLS from Sears. But in addition to the publishers and editors of farm newspapers, you'll also learn about their readers. You'll also learn about Lucy Van Voorhis White, a farmer's wife in Dallas County, Iowa, who read Wallace's Farmer for information on better ways to raise chickens. You'll learn about John Campbell Bailey, an immigrant from Northern Ireland who lived near Rock Island, Illinois and read farm newspapers along with Chicago newspapers and Presbyterian magazines. And you'll learn about John Sanborn, a Missouri farmer who turned to reading not only when he was laid up by a broken leg (his horses ran wild and he was run over by the plow), but also when his five year old son, his only son, died of a mysterious sickness. Rural people like White, Bailey, and Sanborn read farm newspapers for information, for entertainment, and for confirmation of their view of the world. They selectively adapted the contents of what they read to their own particular needs. So if you read the book, I hope you'll learn more about Rural People.
I highly recommend it!