The Rural Economy of New England: A Regional Study

By John Donald Black | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Land-Use History

The object of this chapter is to look back over the changes that have taken place in the use of the land in New England and see if these can give us insight into future land use. Surely the direction of recent changes must point the future strongly. Most of the data go back only to 1880. We shall stress particularly the period since 1910.


FARMS -- HOW MANY?

Number of farms is one measure of change in agricultural land use. Chart 27 records the number of farms reported by the federal census since 1850, and in parallel two series based upon adjusted figures.1 The first of these two revised series assumes what we have called "normal census procedure," that is, the procedure attempted in the 1910 and 1920 enumerations, and apparently set as a goal for 1940. If the 1925, 1930, and 1935 censuses had followed such a procedure, the number of farms reported would have been much closer to this series than to the numbers published in the census volumes. The second revision assumes the fuller counting methods employed in the 1935 enumeration. No doubt there were as many farms as indicated by this line in New England in 1935 and earlier years. But it has not been customary to count them this fully.

Space does not allow a reporting of the procedures followed in adjusting these census figures. But a good clue to them, as well as evidence of the validity of the adjustments, is furnished by the data in Table 23 on percentage changes in numbers of farms by size-groups from 1920 to 1945. The 1925 enumeration stepped up the small farms a little and omitted a few of the larger farms. The 1930 census omitted large numbers of small farms, and

____________________
1
It is important to note that this chart is drawn upon an absolute rather than a percentage scale. In a percentage scale, the changes would appear larger in southern New England than in New England as a whole.

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