Traditional Knowledge

Harvesting corn, Harper’s Weekly, September 23, 1871

Harvesting corn, Harper’s Weekly, September 23, 1871

Farmers used to plow, weed, and harvest by hand, making them confident that they understood the soil, the health of their crops, and the size of the harvest. Even with the coming of powered machinery, they were still confident in their traditional knowledge. However, without detailed measurements they did not always know which specific parts of the field excelled or why.

Corn husker, around 1920

Corn husker, around 1920

Farmers wore specialized gloves with a metal prong to make husking the corn faster and easier.

Planter patent model, George Hendricks, Rushville, Indiana, 1872

Planter patent model, George Hendricks, Rushville, Indiana, 1872

Planting was a slow process with this human-powered corn drill. While using simple machines was tedious, it did ensure that the farmer would see every piece of the field.

Cutting grain by hand, around 1900.

Cutting grain by hand, around 1900.

Cutting grain with a scythe was tedious work, but it did provide the farmer with a very close view of the crop.

Grain sickle, around 1900

Grain sickle, around 1900