The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Opening Windows onto Hidden Lives

Opening Windows onto Hidden Lives

Women, Country Life, and Early Rural Sociological Research Julie N. Zimmerman and Olaf F. Larson
  • Copyright: 2010
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 240 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-03728-8
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-03729-5
  • Series Name: Rural Studies
Opening Windows onto Hidden Lives is essential reading for anyone interested in rural women's studies, and particularly rural women's history. Zimmerman and Larson have painstakingly excavated a treasure trove of materials vital to an informed understanding of American farm women in the first half of the twentieth century. Although the work in its entirety is impressive and very useful, the annotated bibliography alone makes the book worth reading.”
“In this, their third book on the subject, Julie Zimmerman and pioneering rural sociologist Olaf Larson once again shed light on the often forgotten scholarship of the Division of Farm Population and Rural Life, which conducted groundbreaking social science research. As in their previous collaborations, Zimmerman and Larson document the wide-ranging nature of Division scholarship, focusing this time on studies that discuss the activities of rural and farm women. Their diligence in locating the rich data on women in Division reports is particularly impressive because most of this information is embedded within larger studies of rural living standards, farm labor and wages, and rural social organization. The book’s thorough bibliographic section and its reproduction of significant primary documents, including a 1924 report that was the Division’s only exclusive study of farm women, make it an invaluable resource for rural sociologists and historians of rural America.”

Building on their analysis in Sociology in Government (Penn State, 2003), Julie Zimmerman and Olaf Larson again join forces across the generations to explore the unexpected inclusion of rural and farm women in the research conducted by the USDA’s Division of Farm Population and Rural Life. Existing from 1919 to 1953, the Division was the first, and for a time the only, unit of the federal government devoted to sociological research. The authors explore how these early rural sociologists found the conceptual space to include women in their analyses of farm living, rural community social organization, and the agricultural labor force.

Julie N. Zimmerman is Professor of Rural Sociology in the Department of Community and Leadership Development at the University of Kentucky, and the Historian for the Rural Sociological Society.

Olaf F. Larson is Professor Emeritus of Rural Sociology in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University.


Foreword by Jess Gilbert, Past President, Rural Sociological Society



Part 1: Hidden Windows, Hidden Lives

1. Opening Hidden Windows

2. “Agriculture Is Not the Whole of Country Life”

3. Women and Rural Society

4. Finding Women in the Division’s Research

5. The Test of Time

Part 2: Selected Bibliography

Citations from Sociology in Government: The Galpin-Taylor Years in the the Work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1919–1953

Part 3: Reprints of Selected Publications

1. Woman’s Work on the Farm (1917)

2. The Woman on the Farm (1914)

3. Recommendations of the Committee (1919)

4. Farm Life Studies and Their Relation to Home Economics Work (1920)

Charles J. Galpin

5. The Advantages of Farm Life: A Study by Correspondence and Interviews with Eight Thousand Farm Women: Digest of an Unpublished Report (1924)

Emily Hoag Sawtelle



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