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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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Sharing and Dividing Farm Work

Sharing and Dividing Farm Work

(p.105) 5 Sharing and Dividing Farm Work
Putting the Barn Before the House

Grey Osterud

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how the increasing scale and degree of specialization of commercial farms and the trend toward combining off-farm labor with small-scale farming affected the gender division of labor on farms and power relations in farm families in the Nanticoke Valley during the early twentieth century. It shows that both of these economic shifts generated a new form of class stratification in rural society. To some degree, this divergence corresponded with ethnicity; many immigrant families who moved to run-down or abandoned farms kept some family members working in the factory while others labored on the land to build up the enterprise. The chapter first considers the complex gender and intergenerational relations within farm families and rural communities before discussing how fundamental changes in the rural economy took place. It also explores how farming families resisted capitalist transformation so successfully for so long and what roles rural women played in sustaining diversifed family farms as well as the community networks on which they relied.

Keywords:   commercial farms, off-farm labor, small-scale farming, gender division of labor, farm families, Nanticoke Valley, class stratification, rural economy, rural women, family farms

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