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Putting the Barn Before the HouseWomen and Family Farming in Early Twentieth-Century New York$
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Grey Osterud

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450280

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450280.001.0001

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Women’s Place on the Land

Women’s Place on the Land

(p.46) 2 Women’s Place on the Land
Putting the Barn Before the House

Grey Osterud

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the paths through which women came to live and work on family farms—inheriting land from their parents, marrying an inheriting son, or founding a farm in partnership with their husband—as well as those who were displaced from the Nanticoke Valley. It considers how rural women's connections to the land have shaped their sense of self, the agency they felt able to exercise, and the trajectory of their life as they look back on it. It explains how these women saw themselves as profoundly embedded in kinship networks and deeply grounded in the work they did to support and nurture others; family and work were inextricably interconnected in their narratives. It shows that most rural women, whether they inherited, married into, or founded farms, expressed a clear sense that they could negotiate with their husbands over the division of farm tasks, participate to some degree in decisions about farming as well as childcare, and play a key role in figuring out whether or how pass the enterprise on to the next generation.

Keywords:   family farms, Nanticoke Valley, rural women, land, kinship networks, family, work, farming, childcare, agency

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