Cage Free Since 1919

Current Issue

93.3 (Summer 2019)

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Special Issue: African American Women in Agriculture during the Jim Crow Era 


by Cherisse Jones-Branch and Adrienne Monteith Petty

“Protect the Mother and Baby”: Mississippi Lay Midwives and Public Health
by Yulonda Eadie Sano 

This article explores the relationship between African American lay midwives and the Mississippi State Board of Health. Seen as responsible for high rates of infant and maternal mortality, the midwives were targeted for elimination in the 1920s. However, the shortage of physicians and hospitals postponed this process for more than five decades, and lay midwives were integrated into the state’s public health system. 

“To Raise Standards Among the Negroes”: Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teachers in Rural Jim Crow Arkansas, 1909–1950
by Cherisse Jones-Branch 

Between 1909 and 1968, Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teachers, or “Jeanes super- visors,” provided much-needed guidance and assistance to impoverished rural black southern communities. Funded by an endowment left in 1907 by Pennsylvania Quaker Anna T. Jeanes to support African American education, Jeanes supervisors aided black teachers in rural southern schools as they sought to improve educational quality and access and reform domestic habits. The communities in which they la- bored often lacked or, more appropriately, were systematically denied the resources to make these changes. This article explores the work of Arkansas Jeanes supervisors, active in the state from approximately 1909 until 1950, who were valued and even revered for their contributions to and advocacy for rural African American communities. It further explores how their activism included but also transcended concerns about basic educational skills to encompass an agenda that addressed Afri- can Americans’ health concerns. 

 “No One Was on Their Own”: Sociability among Rural African American Women in Middle Georgia during the Interwar Years
by Chrissy Lutz and Dawn Herd-Clark 

Social interactions among African American women in Georgia’s Black Belt during the years between the world wars helped those women to improve their lives. Fort Valley State College and the Extension Service of the United States Department of Agriculture provided black organizers and venues for friendly get-togethers, clubs, and farm demonstrations that enabled otherwise isolated rural women to meet and form supportive friendships. Because of the existence of Fort Valley State College and the Extension Service, Middle Georgia’s rural African American women could boast that “no one was on their own.” 

The Town and Country Roots of Modjeska Monteith Simkins’s Activism
by Adrienne Monteith Petty 

This essay analyzes how Modjeska Monteith Simkins’s unique roots in the city and hinterland of Columbia, South Carolina, informed her approach to civil and human rights activism. Simkins devoted her life to fighting racism and inequality, especially disfranchisement, inequities in health care, and school segregation. Her family’s work on the farm also helped sustain her activism. 

The South Carolina Home in Black and White: Race, Gender, and
Power in Home Demonstration Work
by Carmen V. Harris 

This essay examines the intersectional experience of African American home demon- stration agents in South Carolina between 1910 and 1968. It investigates how gender created common experiences and how white supremacy complicated those commonalities. Both black and white women in South Carolina played prominent roles in the development of national home demonstration service, each serving as agents to help women of their own race improve rural life. It reveals that the state’s white and black female agents shared a commitment to improving farm women’s lives and that they both experienced the institutional discrimination inherent in being female professionals in a male-dominated organization. Gender and race dictated different emphases in program structure, salaries, and services available to clients. While white agents experienced gender discrimination, black agents expe- rienced the “double discrimination” of race and gender. Race prevented the devel- opment of an equal professional sisterhood. Examining the divergence of women’s experiences in South Carolina illustrates a pattern of cooperation across gender lines and friction across racial ones. 

Centennial Essay

Theory and Theorizing in Agricultural History
by Shane Hamilton

The field of agricultural history could benefit from interdisciplinary engagement with theoretical work. Rather than chiding agricultural historians for avoiding theory, this essay suggests specific ways in which many agricultural historians are already engaging with theory. In particular the practice of “colligation” may be an especially productive mode for agricultural historians to broaden the audience for their research and enrich their teaching. The essay concludes with a brief set of possi- bilities for building on theories in economics, geography, sociology and anthropology, and political science.  


Fats of the Land: New Histories of Agricultural Oils 
by Juan Infante-Amate, Brandon Luedtke, Joshua MacFadyen, Jonathan Robins, Kate Stevens 

Book Reviews

Latin America and the Caribbean 

De la Torre, The People of the River: Nature and Identity in Black Amazonia, 1835–1945, by Mira Kohl

Raby, American Tropics: The Caribbean Roots of Biodiversity Science, by Suman Seth

Cheney, Cul de Sac: Patrimony, Capitalism, and Slavery in French Saint-Domingue, by Dexnell Peters


Crummey,Farming and Famine: Landscape Vulnerability in Northeast Ethiopia, 1889–1991, by Amanda Lewis-Nang’ea

North America

Hamilton,Supermarket USA: Food and Power in the Cold War Farms Race, by Courtney I. P. Thomas

White, Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Power Movement, by Cherisse Jones-Branch

Ferguson, Remaking the Rural South: Interracialism, Christian Socialism, and Cooperative Farming in Jim Crow Mississippi, by Mark Newman

Willoughby, Yellow Fever, Race, and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans by Paul Michael Warden

Stoll, Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism, by Luke Manget

Roth, Magic Bean: The Rise of Soy in America, by Diana Chen

Catton, Rainy Lake House: Twilight of Empire on the Northern Frontier, by Lawrence Hatter

Sayre, The Politics of Scale: A History of Rangeland Science, by Samantha Noll


Russell, Greyhound Nation: A Coevolutionary History of England, 1200–1900, by Edward Beasley

Darrow, Tsardom of Sufficiency, Empire of Norms: Statistics, Land Allotments, and Agrarian Reform in Russia, 1700–1921, by Colleen M. Moore


Aso, Rubber and the Making of Vietnam: An Ecological History, 1897–1975, by Olga Dror