Rural Hoosiers, the Farm Problem, and Agents of Change
This dissertation is an examination of rural Hoosiers, and in particular to what extent they accepted outside assistance against a backdrop of disruption brought about by mechanization, depression, and in some cases dislocation in the first half of the twentieth century. The "farm experts" from Purdue University, and "government men" from federal agencies came to assist rural Hoosiers cope with the “Farm Problem,” joining a succession of outsiders who came to help. Those who came to the rescue confronted a particular quality of character influenced by environmental elements, migration patterns, and received world views. The study uses a range of sources. A wealth of secondary scholarship was written shortly after the end of rural New Deal programs during World War II. Purdue Experiment Station research publications, Purdue Extension annual reports, county Extension agents’ reports, farm journals, newspaper reporting and editorials, congressional records, records and promotional materials of the Resettlement Administration and its successor the Farm Security Administration, and personal correspondence all give voice to actors and observers at the time. This study contributes to our understanding of rural New Deal initiatives in the Midwest as witnessed through an Indiana lens. The inquiry reveals the uneven and sometimes incoherent nature of “progress” as promoted by agents of change. Try as they might, rural Hoosiers could not resist or control forces of change in the face of worldwide crisis of economic disruption, ideological confrontation, and military aggression.
- Doctor of Philosophy
- West Lafayette