If you’re like me (though chances are you’re not), you’ve been scouring for some good review articles and overviews of agricultural history. Well, after weeks of poking around JSTOR, asking knowledgeable people, rereading book introductions, and just plain thinking, I have finally not only figured out what agricultural history has been up to for the past nigh-on-a-century, I have also discovered a few of those elusive historiographic essays I knew had to be out there somewhere. And so, in the spirit of sharing information, on the off-chance that there is someone out there somewhere who has been looking for the same thing, I have included citations to what I’ve found useful as I’ve compiled my own personal historiographic overview.
These are some of the articles — many of them older — that I found:
Paul W. Gates, “Research in the History of American Land Tenure: A Review Article,” Agricultural History, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Jul., 1954), pp. 121-126.
Wayne D. Rasmussen, “Forty Years of Agricultural History,” Agricultural History, Vol. 33, No. 4 (Oct., 1959), pp. 177-184.
Paul W. Gates, “Problems of Agricultural History 1790-1840,” Agricultural History, Vol. 46, No. 1, American Agriculture, 1790-1840: A Symposium (Jan., 1972), pp. 33-58.
Robert Swierenga, “The New Rural History: Defining the Parameters,” Great Plains Quarterly, Vol. 1 (Fall 1981), pp. 211-223.
—————, “Theoretical Perspectives on the New Rural History: From Environmentalism to Modernization,” Agricultural History, Vol. 56, No. 3 (Jul., 1982), pp. 495-502.
Jon Gjerde, “‘Roots of Maladjustment’ in the Land: Paul Wallace Gates,” Reviews in American History, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Mar., 1991), pp. 142-153.
Orville Vernon Burton, “Reaping What We Sow: Community and Rural History,” Agricultural History, Vol. 76, No. 4 (2000), pp. 631-658.
Deborah Fitzgerald, “Eating and Remembering,” Agricultural History, Vol. 79, No. 4 (Fall 2005), pp. 393-408.
I have also found the introductions and prefaces to the following books to be helpful:
Steven Hahn and Jonathan Prude (ed.), The Countryside in the Age of Capitalist Transformation: Essays in the Social History of Rural America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985.
David Danbom, Born in the Country: A History of Rural America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995).
Sally McMurry, Transforming Rural Life: Dairying Families and Agricultural Change, 1820-1885 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995).
Catherine McNicol Stock and Robert D. Johnston (ed.), The Countryside in the Age of the Modern State: Political Histories of Rural America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001).