Transforming Rural Life: Dairying Families and

Transforming Rural Life: Dairying Families and One of the many changes that fundamentally altered nineteenth century agrarian life was the shift in the dairy industry from home to factory butter and cheesemaking In the early nineteenth century virtually all such work took place on the family farm But after about , production began to move from farms to local crossroads factories In Transforming Rural Life Sally McMurry takes a new look at the underlying causes of this development and its implications for the dairying families who were the mainstays of northeastern agriculture Unlike previous books, which cast this transformation primarily in economic terms, McMurry s work emphasizes the role of social systems, cultural values, material culture, and family dynamics She argues that a key factor in the change was simply the resistance of women to the burden of home cheesemaking many households produced thousands of pounds every season When the technology and economic conditions permitted, the transition to factory production took place quickly not because farm families made money, but because taking the milk to factories helped resolve domestic tensions As a result, patterns of life began to change freeing women for new tasks, encouraging increased reliance on the market economy and new cash crops, and emphasizing wage work, which in turn affected the reorganization of the domestic economy

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