Women, books, rural sociology, novels, farms, Great Depression
During the Great Depression, with conditions grim, entertainment scarce, and educational opportunities limited, many South Dakota farm women relied on reading to fill emotional, social, and informational needs. To read to any degree, these rural women had to overcome multiple obstacles. Extensive reading (whether books, farm journals, or newspapers) was limited to those who had access to publications and could make time to read. The South Dakota Free Library Commission was valuable in circulating reading materials to the state's rural population. In the 1930s the commission collaborated with the USDA's Extension Service in a popular reading project geared toward South Dakota farm women. This "Reading in the Home" program greatly increased reading opportunities and motivations. Of particular interest to rural women were tales of pioneer life featuring strong protagonists. Through these stories, farm women found validation and encouragement to persevere. Reading also broadened horizons and challenged assumptions. For the depression-era farm woman, reading books and other materials provided recreation, instruction, and inspiration in a discouraging time.
Agricultural History Society
Copyright © 2009 the Agricultural Society
Lindell, Lisa, ""So Long as I Can Read": Farm Women's Reading Experiences in Depression-Era South Dakota" (2009). Hilton M. Briggs Library Faculty Publications. 27.