By Lu Ann Jones
Farm ladies of the twentieth-century South were portrayed as oppressed, tired, and remoted. Lu Ann Jones tells particularly a distinct tale in Mama discovered Us to paintings . development upon evocative oral histories, she encourages us to appreciate those girls as shoppers, manufacturers, and brokers of monetary and cultural switch.
As shoppers, farm ladies bargained with peddlers at their backdoors. A key enterprise for plenty of farm ladies was once the ''butter and egg trade''--small-scale dairying and elevating chickens. Their profits supplied a vital margin of monetary security for lots of households in the course of the Twenties and Thirties and provided ladies a few independence from their males parents. those cutting edge girls confirmed that fowl creation paid off and laid the basis for the agribusiness chicken that emerged after global warfare II. Jones additionally examines the relationships among farm ladies and residential demonstration brokers and the impact of government-sponsored rural reform. She discusses the pro tradition that constructed between white brokers as they reconciled new and previous rules approximately women's roles and indicates that black brokers, regardless of prejudice, associated their consumers to priceless executive assets and gave new meanings to traditions of self-help, mutual reduction, and racial uplift.
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Extra resources for Mama Learned Us to Work: Farm Women in the New South
In addition, home agents recognized the value of women’s unpaid labor on behalf of their families. They assigned a monetary value to the vegetables that women canned and the clothes they stitched. 40 When considering the activities of home agents, it is useful to take a page from literary critics who argue that an author is not the sole creator of a text; rather, the text is a joint creation of writers and readers. In much the same way, agents and club members collaborated in writing the texts of lessons when they came together at club meetings.
The peddler’s visit to the Wake County farm where Bernice Kelly Harris grew up in the late nineteenth century remained a vivid memory for the North Carolina writer forty years later. When the peddler opened his packs, Harris recalled, “It was Aladdin’s lamp, an adventure in wonderland, a glimpse into the gold-haired prince’s palace beside the sea. ”19 Harris was not alone in her fond memories. Itinerant sellers “who visited the farms of those days and brightened the lives of those who lived there” ﬁgured prominently in Caroline S.
Running separate from but parallel to white rural reformers were African American agrarians in the region who viewed farm women as vital to their families on two fronts: they could help families achieve economic independence through farm ownership, and they could refute whites’ assumptions of black inferiority, immorality, and shiftlessness with behaviors that signaled thriftiness and respectability. The message of educators at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama spread among devotees throughout the South.