Consumer Culture in Rural America

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Atherton, Lewis E.  The Pioneer Merchant in Mid-America.  New York: DeCapo, 1969.

Ayers, Edward L.  The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.  Chapter 4 “Dry Goods”

Beecher, Mary Anne.  “Building for Mrs. Farmer: Published Farmhouse Designs and the Role of the Rural Female Consumer, 1900-1930.”  Agricultural History 73 (Spring 1999): 252-262.

Blanke, David. Sowing the American Dream: How Consumer Culture Took Root in the Rural Midwest. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2000.

Carson, Gerald.  The Old Country Store.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1954.

Craig, Steve. “The More They Listen, the More They Buy”: Radio and the Modernizing of Rural America, 1930-1939.” Agricultural History 80 (Winter 2006): 1-16.

English, Linda.  “Revealing Accounts: General Stores on the South Central Plains, 1870-1890.”  PhD dissertation, University of Oklahoma, 2005.

Johnson, Laurence A.  Over the Counter and On the Shelf: Country Storekeeping in America.  Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 1961.

Kline, Ronald R. Consumers in the Country: Technology and Social Change in Rural America.  Athens: Ohio University Press, 2000.

Lears, Jackson.  “Packaging the Folk: Tradition and Amnesia in American Advertising, 1880-1940.”  in Folk Roots, New Roots: Folklore in American Life, J.S. Becker, ed.  Lexington: Museum of Our National Heritage, 1988.

Ownby, Ted.  American Dreams in Mississippi: Consumers, Poverty, and Culture 1830-1998.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

Schlereth, Thomas J.  “Country Stores, County Fairs, and Mail Order Catalogs: Consumption in Rural America,” in Simon J. Bronner, ed., Consuming Visions: Accumulation and Display of Goods in America 1880-1920. New York: Norton, 1989.

    Traces the growth of a rural consumer culture in the United States between 1880 and 1920.  According to Schlereth, there existed an earlier tradition of consumption in rural areas and there was not a “revolution” in rural consumption during this period, although the level and scope did rise noticeably.  Rural Americans increasingly purchased more and more goods that they previously made at home or did without.  This trend can be explained by increasing rural populations, innovations in transportation and communication, the rise of a rural press and mail delivery, an increase in discretionary income.  Moreover, rural Americans were no different than their urban counterparts in their desire for the material comforts of modern life, or a “middle class consciousness.”  The essay also traces changes in product availability and display in rural general stores, the rise of national brand-name advertising, and the widespread use and popularity of mail order catalogs. 

Stanonis, Anthony J., ed.  Dixie Emporium: Tourism, Foodways, and Consumer Culture in the American South. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008. 

Ward, Douglas B.  “From Barbarian Farmers to Yeoman Consumers: Curtis Publishing Company and the Search for Rural America.”  American Journalism 22:4 (Fall 2005): 47-67.

Wenger, Diane E.  “Creating Networks: The Country Storekeeper and the Mid-Atlantic Economy.”  Ph.D. dissertation, University of Delaware, 2002.

Wenger, Diane E.  “Delivering the Goods: The Country Storekeeper and Inland Commerce in the Mid-Atlantic.”  Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 129 (January 2005): 45-72.

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