In the years after World War I, Southern farm women found their world changing. A postwar plunge in farm prices stretched into a twenty-year agricultural depression and New Deal programs eventually transformed the economy. Many families left their land to make way for larger commercial farms. New industries and the intervention of big government in once insular communities marked a turning point in the struggle of upcountry women-forcing new choices and the redefinition of traditional ways of life.
Melissa Walker's All We Knew Was to Farm draws on interviews, archives, and family and government records to reconstruct the conflict between rural women and bewildering and unsettling change. Some women adapted by becoming partners in farm operations, adopting the roles of consumers and homemakers, taking off-farm jobs, or leaving the land. The material lives of rural upcountry women improved dramatically by midcentury-yet in becoming middle class, Walker concludes, the women found their experiences both broadened and circumscribed.
Melissa Walker is an associate professor of history at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Contents:List of Figures List of Tables AcknowledgementsIntroduction: "All We Knew Was to Farm" 1. Rural Life in the Upcountry South: The Scene in 1920 2. Making Do and Doing Without: Farm Women Cope with the Economic Crisis, 1920-1941 3. "Grandma Would Find Some Way to Make Some Money": Farm Women's Cash Incomes 4. Mixed Messages: Home Extension Work among Upcountry Farm Women in the 1920s and 1930s 5. Government Relocation and Upcountry Women 6. Rural Women and Industrialization 7. Farm Wives and Commercial Farming 8. "The Land of Do Without": The Changing Face of Sevier County, Tennessee, 1908-1940 Epilogue: The Persistence of Rural ValuesAbbreviations Notes Bibliographical Essay Index