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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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Wage-earning and Farming Families

Wage-earning and Farming Families

(p.149) 7 Wage-earning and Farming Families
Putting the Barn Before the House

Grey Osterud

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines women's active participation in income-producing labor, whether on or off the farm, as a fundamental feature of farming families in the Nanticoke Valley who combined farming with wage-earning. Most of the immigrants who bought farms in the Nanticoke Valley kept some family members in the urban labor force while the others worked on the land. At the same time, many of the poorer native-born families also sent people to work in the city. These families struggled to maintain a foothold in the country by combining wage-earning with farming. In some families, men resorted to off-farm labor while women cultivated the land; in other families, these roles were reversed. This chapter shows how rural women, through their work on the land and their sales in the market, developed a strong sense of personal agency, while their husbands became more cooperative farm partners.

Keywords:   rural women, income-producing labor, farming families, Nanticoke Valley, farming, wage-earning, immigrants, off-farm labor, agency

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