Families and Farmhouses in Nineteenth-Century America: Vernacular Design and Social Change

Synopsis

The antebellum era and the close of the 19th century frame a period of great agricultural expansion. During this time, farmhouse plans designed by rural men and women regularly appeared in the flourishing Northern farm journals. This book analyzes these vital indicators of the work patterns, social interactions, and cultural values of the farm families of the time. Examining several hundred owner-designed plans, McMurry shows the ingenious ways in which "progressive" rural Americans designed farmhouses in keeping with their visions of a dynamic, reformed rural culture. From designs for efficient work spaces to a concern for self-contained rooms for adolescent children, this fascinating story of the evolution of progressive farmers' homes sheds new light on rural America's efforts to adapt to major changes brought by industrialization, urbanization, the consolidation of capitalist agriculture, and the rise of the consumer society.