Farming History & Educational 'Tid-Bits'
 

The National Society Descendants of American Farmers is pleased to provide information on various farming and agriculture subjects to help briefly educate on the history of farming and its importance.  Below is a list of 'tid-bits' that we hope you find interesting.  

Agriculture History in the United States?


The history of agriculture in the United States covers the period from the first English settlers to the present day. In Colonial America, agriculture was the primary livelihood for 90% of the population, and most towns were shipping points for the export of agricultural products. Most farms were geared toward subsistence production for family use. The rapid growth of population and the expansion of the frontier opened up large numbers of new farms, and clearing the land was a major preoccupation of farmers. After 1800, cotton became the chief crop in southern plantations, and the chief American export. In New England, subsistence agriculture gave way after 1810 to production to provide food supplies for the rapidly growing industrial towns and cities. Export crops, such as tobacco and cranberries, were introduced.After 1840, industrialization and urbanization opened up lucrative domestic markets. The number of farms grew from 1.4 million in 1850, to 4.0 million in 1880, and 6.4 million in 1910; then started to fall, dropping to 5.6 million in 1950 and 2.2 million in 2008. Today, agriculture is a major industry with farms producing in every state. As of the 2017 Farming Census, there are about 2.04 million farms currently in operation in the United States of America.




What is the Grange?


The Grange was an organization founded in 1867 for farmers and their wives, that was strongest in the Northeast, and which promoted the modernization not only of farming practices but also of family and community life. It is still in operation. The promotional poster, above, is offering a "gift for the grangers", ca. 1873. Membership soared from 1873 (200,000) to 1875 (858,050) as many of the state and local granges adopted non-partisan political resolutions, especially regarding the regulation of railroad transportation costs. The organization was unusual in that it allowed women and teens as equal members. Rapid growth infused the national organization with money from dues, and many local granges established consumer cooperatives, initially supplied by the Chicago wholesaler Aaron Montgomery Ward. Poor fiscal management, combined with organizational difficulties resulting from rapid growth, led to a massive decline in membership. By around the start of the 20th century, the Grange rebounded and membership stabilized. In the mid-1870s, state Granges in the Midwest were successful in passing state laws that regulated the rates they could be charged by railroads and grain warehouses. The birth of the federal government's Cooperative Extension Service, Rural Free Delivery, and the Farm Credit System were largely due to the Grange.




What was the Women's Land Army?


The Woman’s Land Army was created during World War I to recruit, train, and deploy non-farm women to work on farms. There were farmers wives and daughters already working on farms. Women working on a farm wasn’t a novelty to farm communities. But once the hired help who aided the farmer in the plowing, planting, and harvesting of crops was no longer available because the men had gone to war, the farmer and his family needed extra hands. Hence, the Woman’s Land Army grew out of a patriotic need, to not only feed America, but feed our military overseas and the Europeans suffering the devastation of war.

NSDOAF recognizes the women who left the comfort of their city life to learn the physical and mental skills needed to actually assist a farmer. These women made it possible for the farmer to prepare to plant a larger crop since he knew there would be enough help at harvest time.

To learn more about the Women's Land Army CLICK HERE




Is there a list or map of Farm and Agricultural Museums in the United States?


Yes, there is! The National Society Descendants of American Farmers has put together an interactive Google map that lists farm and agricultural museums across the United States. These museums are wonderful educational tools as they give vistors a first hand account of farming in various decads. Please visit our Farm Museums Page to view the map.




NSDOAF Farming History and Stories


NSDOAF is committed to documenting the history and stories of our American farming ancestors. Be sure to visit our Farming History and Stories page to read about some of our members' farming ancestor stories, and experiences.