Current Issue

In Pursuit of Conservative Reform: Social Darwinism, the Agricultural Ladder, and the Lessons of European Tenancy JOSHUA M. NYGREN

This article explores the intellectual foundations of the “agricultural ladder” metaphor by examining the ideologies and experiences of the two economists--Henry C. Taylor and Richard T. Ely--who inserted the concept into academic discourse. It argues that the agricultural ladder was a product of Taylor and Ely’s mutual pursuit of conservative reform, an attempt to achieve the common good of widespread landownership without revolutionary disruptions to the status quo. Acting on their social Darwinist beliefs that societies evolved through successive stages of social and economic development, the economists crossed the Atlantic to study European land tenancy. These studies reinforced Taylor and Ely’s demand for slow, measured tenure reform--an essential characteristic of the agricultural ladder. This resistance to rapid change ultimately naturalized the agricultural capitalism and racialized tenancy that prevented poorer farmers from owning their own farms. The agricultural ladder recast the prototypical farmer as well capitalized, highly efficient, and white.

Rural Youth Culture in Early Twentieth-Century New York State GREY OSTERUD

Many early twentieth-century observers attributed the migration of young people from the countryside to the city as much to the dullness of rural life as to its declining economic opportunities. The recollections of women and men who had grown up in a rural community near a rapidly growing urban area in south-central New York State, however, demonstrate that young people conducted a vibrant social life that was marked by heterosociality as well as relative independence from adults. Rural youth participated in urban institutions and partook of commercial amusements without abandoning their attachment to rural culture.

The Incidental Environmentalists: Dale Bumpers, George Templeton and the Origins of the Rosen Alternative Pest Control Center at the University of Arkansas JEANNIE WHAYNE

This paper argues that agricultural scientists Dwight Isley, Harry Rosen, and William Baerg developed an “integrated pest management” approach at the University of Arkansas in the 1920s, an approach that served as an inspiration for later generations of researchers at the university. Most prominent among them was George Templeton, a student of Harry Rosen’s, who secured his doctoral degree at the University of Wisconsin, returned to the University of Arkansas as an assistant professor in 1958, and became an international leader in the field of biological approaches to pest management. Meanwhile, Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers, a wilderness environmentalist, cultivated a similar point of view. By 1989 a meeting of the minds occurred between the two men, which resulted in a congressional appropriation of $1.4 million and the founding of the Alternative Pest Control Center. In 1996 a generous donation from Rosen’s daughter funded the construction of a building located on Maple Street, and the center was renamed the Rosen Alternative Pest Control Center.

Book Reviews

Vaught, The Farmers’ Game: Baseball in Rural America, by Charles C. Alexander

Moore, ed., Letters from an American Farmer and Other Essays,, by Thomas Hallock

Cinotto, Soft Soil, Black Grapes: The Birth of Italian Winemaking in California,, by Erica Hannickel

Wright, Sharing the Prize: The Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution in the American South,, by Charles J. Holden

Warrin and Gomes, Land, As Far as the Eye Can See: Portuguese in the Old West,, by Matthew Luckett

Eaton, Growing Resistance: Canadian Farmers and the Politics of Genetically Modified Wheat,, by Joshua MacFadyen

Trimble, Historical Agriculture and Soil Erosion in the Upper Mississippi Valley Hill Country,, by Sam Stalcup

Devine, On Behalf of the Family Farm: Iowa Farm Women’s Activism since 1945,, by Barbara Steinson

Lytton, Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food,, by Helen Zoe Veit

Daniel, Dispossession: Discrimination against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights,, by Harold D. Woodman