Synopses & Reviews
The advent of modern agribusiness irrevocably changed the patterns of life and labor on the American family farm. In Entitled to Power
, Katherine Jellison examines midwestern farm women's unexpected response to new labor-saving devices.
Federal farm policy at mid-century treated farm women as consumers, not producers. New technologies, as promoted by agricultural extension agents and by home appliance manufacturers, were expected to create separate spheres of work in the field and in the house. These innovations, however, enabled women to work as operators of farm machinery or independently in the rural community. Jellison finds that many women preferred their productive roles on and off the farm to the domestic ideal emphasized by contemporary prescriptive literature. A variety of visual images of farm women from advertisements and agricultural publications serve to contrast the publicized view of these women with the roles that they chose for themselves. The letters, interviews, and memoirs assembled by Jellison reclaim the many contributions women made to modernizing farm life.
"Should be read by historians of women, technology, agriculture, labor, and the American West. There is also much of interest here for environmental historians."--American Historical Review
"A persuasively argued explanation of complex and important issues related to family, social, and rural history."--Annals of the American Academy
"Entitled to Power offers clear narrative and analysis that will appeal to a range of readers. . . . For a scholarly study accessible on so many levels, Jellison deserves to be commended--and read."--Forest and Conservation History
"Jellison has not only revealed the paradoxical relationship between farm women and technology; she has also conceived the best treatment yet of the 'modernization' of farming in the Midwest."--Jack Temple Kirby, Miami University
Joan M. Jensen, New Mexico State University
"Midwestern farm women wanted technology but not the ideology of homemaking. . . . Jellison argues this thesis persuasively in her important study of federal policy and women's response to it."--Joan M. Jensen, New Mexico State University