Days on the
Family Farm

From the Golden Age through
the Great Depression

By Carrie A. Meyer
U of MN Press, 2007


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Blogs & Commentary


"An unusually focused view of the momentous first half of America’s 20th century . . . . Meyer has meticulously and lovingly reconstructed 50 years of life . . . using the cryptic household and farm accounts and equally telegraphic journals kept by her ancestor May Lyford Davis, who, with husband Elmo, raised crops, produced milk, saw prosperity come and go and had modern life chug steadily toward them.” —Illinois Alumni

“A remarkable window into the Middle America of the first half of the twentieth century. . . . . Students, scholars, and general readers will connect with the struggles, joys, and sorrows of this farm couple.  —Journal of Illinois History

“An engaging and articulate read and a highly recommended addition to any personal or community library collection.” —Midwest Book Review

“May’s meticulous accounts of farming and records of everyday events can give you insight into your own farm ancestors’ experiences.” —Family Tree Magazine

“One of the strengths of the book is Meyer’s linking of the national scene and the superficially quiet Illinois farm.  . . . Social historians will find behind the details the formation of a farm community network that, though sometimes strained sustained individuals, family, and community, as well as a remarkable love story.” —The Journal of American History

“Meyer’s task is a sensitive and difficult one. . . . . How does she transform a document replete with entries on rainstorms and apple-picking into a window on the twentieth century? . . . . [She] makes the diaries instructive by administering heavy doses of context, derived mostly from the best of contemporary scholarship, and by demonstrating admirable selectivity in her use of diary entries.” —Economic History Review

“During the course of the diaries one witnesses. . . .  the transitions from horses to tractors on the land, the advent of trucks and cars for transportation, and other changing agricultural patterns.  It is instructive and sobering to read this book in the context of our current economic tailspin. . . . . After reading Meyer’s book, I am resolved to do one thing: open the two big boxes containing my mother’s diaries and begin transcribing them.  Who knows what interesting and beautiful thing will come of it?” —

Collecting antique farm equipment is a good way to learn about traditional American agriculture and a way of life now gone.  But old iron doesn’t tell the whole story.  If you’re hungry for more context, try Days on the Family Farm.  . . . Detailed daily diaries paint a rich picture of community life and farming activity. . . . .Essential reading for anyone interested in traditional American farm life. —Farm Collector

The book was also featured in Farm & Ranch Living in June/July 2008, in an article titled, “Aunt May’s Golden Age.”

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