Toward a Recovery of Nineteenth Century Farming Handbooks

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Toward a Recovery of Nineteenth Century Farming Handbooks

While researching texts written about nineteenth century farming, I found a few authors who published books about the literature of nineteenth century farming, particularly agricultural journals, newspapers, pamphlets, and brochures. These authors often placed the farming literature they were studying into an historical context by discussing the important events in agriculture of the year in which the literature was published (see Demaree, for example). However, while these authors discuss journals, newspapers, pamphlets, and brochures, I could not find much discussion about another important source of farming knowledge: farming handbooks. My goal in this paper is to bring this …show more content…

Trade and transportation thus began to influence farming life significantly. Before 1820, the rural community accounted for eighty percent of consumption of farmers’ goods (Hurt 127). With the improvements in transportation, twenty-five percent of farmers’ products were sold for commercial gain, and by 1825, farming “became a business rather than a way of life” (128). This business required farmers to specialize their production and caused most farmers to give “less attention to the production of surplus commodities like wheat, tobacco, pork, or beef” (128). The increase in specialization encouraged some farmers to turn to technology to increase their production and capitalize on commercial markets (172).

The technology farmers used around 1820 was developed from three main sources: Europe, coastal Indian tribes in America, and domestic modifications made from the first two sources’ technologies. Through time, technology improved, and while some farmers clung to their time-tested technologies, others were eager to find alternatives to these technologies. These farmers often turned to current developments in Great Britain and received word of their technological improvements through firsthand knowledge by talking with immigrants and travelers. Farmers also began planning and conducting experiments, and although they lacked a truly scientific

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