Home » Transforming Rural Life: Dairying Families and Agricultural Change, 1820-1885 by Sally A. McMurry
Transforming Rural Life: Dairying Families and Agricultural Change, 1820-1885 Sally A. McMurry

Transforming Rural Life: Dairying Families and Agricultural Change, 1820-1885

Sally A. McMurry

Published January 1st 1995
ISBN : 9780801848896
Hardcover
291 pages
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 About the Book 

One of the many changes that fundamentally altered nineteenth-century agrarian life was the shift in the dairy industry from home to factory butter and cheesemaking. In the early nineteenth century virtually all such work took place on the familyMoreOne of the many changes that fundamentally altered nineteenth-century agrarian life was the shift in the dairy industry from home to factory butter and cheesemaking. In the early nineteenth century virtually all such work took place on the family farm. But after about 1860, production began to move from farms to local crossroads factories. In Transforming Rural Life Sally McMurry takes a new look at the underlying causes of this development and its implications for the dairying families who were the mainstays of northeastern agriculture. Unlike previous books, which cast this transformation primarily in economic terms, McMurrys work emphasizes the role of social systems, cultural values, material culture, and family dynamics. She argues that a key factor in the change was simply the resistance of women to the burden of home cheesemaking (many households produced thousands of pounds every season). When the technology and economic conditions permitted, the transition to factory production took place quickly - not because farm families made more money, but because taking the milk to factories helped resolve domestic tensions. As a result, patterns of life began to change - freeing women for new tasks, encouraging increased reliance on the market economy and new cash crops, and emphasizing wage work, which in turn affected the reorganization of the domestic economy.