Linoleum, Better Babies, and the Modern Farm Woman, 1890-1930

Synopsis

The Progressive Era, falling between the conspicuous materialism of the Gay Nineties and the excesses of the Roaring Twenties, promoted a vision of America united by an emphasis on science and progressive reform. The zeal to modernize business, government, and social relations extended to farm families and the ways women defined their roles. In this study of the expert advice offered by the domestic-economy movement, Marilyn Irvin Holt argues that women were not passive receptors of these views. Seeing their place in agriculture as multifaceted and important, they eagerly accepted improved education and many modern appliances but often rejected suggestions that conflicted with their own views of the rewards and values of farm life. Drawing on a wide range of sources- government surveys, expert testimony, and contemporary farm journals- many presenting accounts in farm women's own words, Holt carefully contrasts the goals of reformers with those of farm families. Anyone seeking a better understanding of the role of women in agriculture will find this a rewarding book.

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