American Women's History: A Research Guide
Farm Work & Life
Home Page | Last Update: 11/21/2004 | Suggestion Box

Reference/Primary Sources Featured Exhibit

"The Road I Grew Up On."
Iowa State University Archives, Ames.
Available from

This archival collection documents rural and
farm life in Iowa over the course of the
twentieth century. The exhibit includes several
photographs of women in farm settings, and
describes the scope of the collection.


Bentley, Susan. Farm Women in the United States: An Updated Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography. University Park, Pa.: Dept. of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Center for Rural Women, Agricultural Experiment Station, Pennsylvania State University, 1984. 76p.

Danbom, David B. H-SHGAPE Bibliographies: Agricultural and Rural Life During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era [online]. February, 1997 [cited 12 March 1997]. Available from:

Effland, Anne B., and Mary Gold, comps. Women in Agriculture and Rural Life: An International Bibliography [online]. Beltsville, Md.: National Agricultural Library, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8 June 1998 [cited 10 July 2000]. Available from:
Includes sections covering North America and Women as Agricultural Professionals.

Fairbanks, Carol. Farm Women on the Prairie Frontier: A Sourcebook for Canada and the United States. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1983. 237p.

Hurt, R. Douglas. American Farms: Exploring Their History. Malabar, Fla.: Krieger Publishing Company, 1996.
The first four chapters of this research guide cover the use of various types of research sources, such as written records, oral history, photographs, maps, and artifacts. Separate chapters offer suggestions for researching farm life and farmsteads. Finally, a bibliographical essay highlights key works in the field.

Maman, Marie, and Thelma H. Tate. Women in Agriculture: A Guide to Research. New York: Garland, 1996. 298p.

Historical Overviews

Hurt, R. Douglas. American Agriculture: A Brief History. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1994.

Key Journals

Agricultural History []

Library Catalogs

Appropriate Library of Congress Subject Headings include:

  • Farm Life
  • Frontier and Pioneer Life
  • Rural Women
  • Women in Agriculture

Online catalogs of libraries with strong collections in agricultural history:

Networking: Associations

Agricultural History Society []

Association for Living Historical Farms and Agricultural Museums []

Networking: Discussion Groups

H-Rural []

Primary Sources: Archival Collections

Jellison, Katherine. "Farm Women in American History: A Note on Sources Available in Washington, D.C." Annals of Iowa 51, no. 2 (1991): 168-77.

Rural Women's Project [online]. Iowa City: Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, March 1999 [cited 10 April 2002]. Available from:

Primary Sources: Digital Collections

Core Historical Literature of Agriculture (CHLA). Ithaca, NY: Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University, October 2000 [cited 25 October 2000]. Available from:

Fighters on the Farm Front: Oregon's Emergency Farm Labor Service, 1943-1947 [online]. Oregon State University Archives and the Oregon State Archives, n.d. [cited 20 July 2001]. Available from:
The 67 images in this exhibit document the farm work of women, urban youth, and others during World War II.

Student Affairs: Women in Agriculture, 1917-1958 [online]. In Five College Digital Access Project. [Amherst, Mass.?]: Five Colleges, Inc., 1997- . Available from:
Includes newspaper articles, pamphlets, and conference proceedings that document vocational training in agriculture for women at Massachusetts Agricultural College.

Primary Sources: Oral History

Jones, Lu Ann, and Nancy Grey Osterud. "Breaking New Ground: Oral History and Agricultural History." Journal of American History 76 (September 1989): 551-564.

Primary Sources: Selected Books

Fairbanks, Carol, and Bergine Haakenson, eds. Writings of Farm Women, 1840-1940: An Anthology. New York: Garland, 1990.

Rasmussen, Wayne D., ed. Agriculture in the United States: A Documentary History. 4 vols. New York: Random House, 1975.

Walker, Melissa, ed. Country Women Cope with Hard Times: A Collection of Oral Histories. Women's Diaries and Letters of the South. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2004.

Talking About Women's History

Jones, Lu Ann. Farm Women [Interview online]. Interviewed by Karla Davis. All Things Considered, 15 September 2002. Available from: 10:29.
Jones is the author of Mama Learned Us to Work: Farm Women in the New South (University of North Carolina Press, 2002).

American Women's History: A Research Guide

Ken Middleton
Middle Tennessee State University Library