From butter churns to diesel tractors, the Museum's agricultural artifacts trace the story of Americans who work the land. Agricultural tools and machinery in the collections range from a John Deere plow of the 1830s to 20th-century cultivators and harvesters. The Museum's holdings also include overalls, aprons, and sunbonnets; farm photographs; milk cans and food jars; handmade horse collars; and some 200 oral histories of farm men and women in the South. Prints in the collections show hundreds of scenes of rural life. The politics of agriculture are part of the story, too, told in materials related to farm workers' unions and a group of artifacts donated by the family of the labor leader Cesar Chavez.
"Agriculture - Overview" showing 1 items.
- In the days of open range, cattle grazed freely over unfenced fields. Fencing especially disturbed western cattlemen who depended upon the open range, including private holdings, for grazing. Farmers fenced animals out of their crops, but as farm size increased and agriculture spread across the west, farmers needed a cheap substitute for scarce wood and stone. In 1874 Illinois farmers Joseph Farwell Glidden, Jacob Haish, and Isaac Ellwood almost simultaneously developed methods of attaching barbs to wire, a type of fencing that effectively kept cattle out of cropland. Despite patent fights and fierce competition, the barbed wire industry was launched and over time reconfigured rural geography. Both film and fiction depicted the often violent disagreement over fencing.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- Goss, Joseph
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- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center