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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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Home Economics and Farm Family Economies

Home Economics and Farm Family Economies

(p.212) 10 Home Economics and Farm Family Economies
Putting the Barn Before the House

Grey Osterud

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how rural women in the Nanticoke Valley and Broome County addressed the issue of the hypothetical boundary between home economics and the economies of farm families. The development of the Broome County Farm and Home Bureau was marked by clear differences between the plans of outside experts and the practices of rural residents. When faced with ideas about farm family economies they did not agree with, the women simply ignored the experts. Most notably, farm women rejected the model of gender that was implicit in the dual structure of these organizations and explicit in much of the expert advice they received. This chapter considers how farm women used the Home Bureau to claim a legitimate place within the county and statewide organization and gain access to its resources, as well as promote more local forms of organizing while involving men in a wide range of community-centered, gender-integrated activities. It also shows how men cooperated with women's efforts to sustain more equitable modes of labor, decision making, and collective action.

Keywords:   rural women, Nanticoke Valley, Broome County, home economics, farm families, farms, gender, decision making, collective action

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