Mixed Harvest: The Second Great Transformation in the Rural North, 1870-1930

By Hal S. Barron | Go to book overview

Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a high way for our God. Every valley shall be raised, and every mountain and bill shall be made low. and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places a plain.

-- ISAIAH 40:3-4


1
AND THE CROOKED SHALL BE MADE STRAIGHT

Rural Road Reform and the Politics of Localism

One of the defining characteristics of the second great transformation in the United States was the attempt of new combinations of reformers and professionals, members of the so-called new middle class, to restructure American society and its institutions in order to make them more efficient. These efforts began in the late nineteenth century and contributed significantly to the increased centralization of American life by creating new arenas for professional expertise, new mechanisms of control, and an expanded role for the state, all of which undermined more local sources of authority and power.

In the northern countryside, this impulse manifested itself most directly in a series of reforms designed to modernize rural life that achieved its apotheosis in the Country Life Movement during the first decades of the twentieth century. Typically advocated by outside experts, this grab bag of governmental and nongovernmental initiatives included agricultural extension work, the formation of farmers' organizations and cooperatives, rural church reform, and social welfare measures for the countryside, in addition to road reform and school consolidation. Most of our understanding of this movement, however, is based on studies of the reformers' ideas and values

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Mixed Harvest: The Second Great Transformation in the Rural North, 1870-1930
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies in Rural Culture ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction - Change, Continuity, and the Transformations of Rural Life 7
  • Part I - CITIZENS 17
  • 1 - And the Crooked Shall Be Made Straight 19
  • 2 - Teach No More His Neighbor 43
  • Part II - PRODUCERS 79
  • 3 - Bringing Forth Strife 81
  • 4 - To Reap the Whirlwind 107
  • Part III - CONSUMERS 153
  • 5 - with All the Fragrant Powders of the Merchant 155
  • 6 - Not the Bread of Idleness the Rural North and Consumer Culture in the 1920s 193
  • Conclusion 243
  • Notes 247
  • NOTE ON SOURCES 287
  • Index 289
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