The Transformation of Rural Life: Southern Illinois, by Jane Adams

By Jane Adams

Jane Adams makes a speciality of the transformation of rural lifestyles in Union County, Illinois, as she explores the ways that American farming has been skilled and understood within the 20th century. Reconstructing the histories of 7 farms, she areas the main points of lifestyle in the context of political and monetary swap. Adams identifies contradictions that, on a private point, stimulated relatives among young children and fogeys, women and men, and managers and workers, and that, extra quite often, replaced buildings of energy in the better rural group. during this old ethnography, Adams strains contradictory narratives: one stresses plenitude--rich networks of associates and relatives, the power to provide households from the farm, the generosity proven to these in need--while the opposite stresses the extreme hardships and oppressive classification, gender, and age inequities that characterised farm lifestyles. the recent Deal and global warfare II disrupted either styles, because the elevated capital useful for winning farming pressured many to maneuver from agriculture to higher-paid nonfarm paintings. This shift additionally replaced the constitution of the farm loved ones, as houses modernized and ladies came across paintings off the farm. Adams concludes that large-scale bureaucracies leveled present category differences and that neighborhood networks eroded as farmers got here to achieve a far better typical of living.

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The Transformation of Rural Life: Southern Illinois, 1890-1990 (Studies in Rural Culture)

Jane Adams makes a speciality of the transformation of rural lifestyles in Union County, Illinois, as she explores the ways that American farming has been skilled and understood within the 20th century. Reconstructing the histories of 7 farms, she locations the main points of lifestyle in the context of political and fiscal switch.

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In addition I went to the Nimmo School reunion and talked with many people who had lived in the area of the Walton farm and who had worked as seasonal laborers for the Waltons. From genealogical materials supplied by some of these people I was able to reconstruct kin connections among the tenants on the Walton farm and discovered that many of them came from the Woodbury, Tennessee, area. 6 In the first project, I had focused on the changing farming technologies and crop mix and on changes in farmstead architecture and layout.

If young people are going to stay around, after all, they must have jobs, and for jobs there must be new activities. We cannot live out of our past only, no matter how beautiful it has become with the patina of age. Nostalgia can mask passivity in the face of painful and unwanted change; worse, it can cover the complicity we share in having created this present with its threat of ecological catastrophe and its enormous and increasing disparities in wealth and power. This southern Illinois landscape, with its hills and hollows, its forests and farmlands and orchards, and its small towns and back roads, has a beauty that I suppose every rural area develops, that embeds itself in those who grow up in it, and that places its stamp upon them so no other place, no matter how beautiful and grand, can ever replace it.

Doc" Horrell volunteered many hours to photograph the five farms documented in 1983-84, Donna Garner helped photograph farms we surveyed, and Suanna Wilson and her staff at Wilson's Typing Service, especially Rebecca Schwartz, transcribed the interviews. During the ten years I have been collecting the data on which this book is based, I received financial support from a variety of sources, without which this project could not have been completed. My dissertation research was funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, an Illinois State Historical Society Fellowship, and University of Illinois Graduate College grants.

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