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A History of American Agriculture 1776-1990
Life on the Farm
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16th-18th 
Centuries
17th century
Farmers endured rough pioneer life while adapting to new environment
18th century
Ideas of progress, human perfectibility , rationality, and scientific improvement flourished in the New World
18th century
Small family farms predominated, except for plantations in southern coastal areas; housing ranged from crude log cabins to substantial frame, brick, or stone houses; farm families manufactured many necessities
1776-99
1800
1810 1810-30
Transfer of manufactures from the farm and home to the shop and factory was greatly accelerated
1820
1830
1840 1840-60
Growth in manufacturing brought many laborsaving devices to the farm home
1840-60
Rural housing improved with use of balloon-frame construction
1844
Success of the telegraph revolutionized communications
1845
Mail volume increased as postage rated lowered
1860 1860's
Kerosene lamps became popular
1865-90
Sod houses common on the prairies
1870
1880
1890 1895
George B. Seldon was granted U.S. Patent for automobile
1896
Rural Free Delivery (RFD) started
1900 1900-20
Urban influences on rural life intensified
1908
Model T Ford paved way for mass production of automobiles
1908
President Roosevelt's Country Life Commission was established and focused attention on the problems of farm wives and the difficulty of keeping children on the farm
1908-17
Period of the country-life movement
1910
1920 1920's
Movie houses were becoming common in rural areas
1921
Radio broadcasts began
1930 1930
58% of all farms had cars
34% had telephones
13% had electricity
1936
Rural Electrification Act (REA) greatly improved quality of rural life
1940
1940
58% of all farms had cars
25% had telephones
33% had electricity
1950 1950's
Television widely accepted
1950's
Many rural areas lost population as many farm family members sought outside work
1954
70.9% of all farms had cars
49% had telephones

93% had electricity
1954
Social Security covverage extended to farm operators

1960 1962
REA authorized to finance educational TV in rural areas
1968
83% of all farms had phones
98.4% had electricity
1970
1970's
Rural areas experienced prosperity and inmigration
1975
90% of all farms had phones
98.6% had electricity
1980-90 Mid-1980's
Hard times and indebtedness affected many farmers in the Midwest
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