Growing a Nation

Historical Timeline — Life on the Farm

17th-18th Centuries

17th century
Farmers endure rough pioneer life while adapting to new environment

18th century
Ideas of progress, human perfectibility, rationality, and scientific improvement flourish in the New World; small family farms predominate, except for plantations in southern coastal areas; housing ranges from crude log cabins to substantial frame, brick, or stone houses; farm families manufacture many necessities

1800

1810-30
Transfer of manufactures from the farm and home to the shop and factory is greatly accelerated

1820

1840

1840-60
Growth in manufacturing brings many labor-saving devices to the farm home; rural housing improves with balloon-frame construction

1844
Success of the telegraph revolutionizes communications

1845
Mail volume increases as postage rate is lowered

1860

1860s
Kerosene lamps become popular

1865-90
Sod houses common on the prairies

 

 

 

1880

1895
George B. Seldon is granted U.S. patent for automobile

1896
Rural Free Delivery (RFD) started

1900

1900-20
Urban influences on rural life intensify

1908
Model T Ford paves way for mass production of automobiles; President Roosevelt's Country Life Commission focuses attention on the problems of farm wives and difficulty of keeping children on the farm

1908-17
Country-life movement

1910

1920

1920s
Movie houses become common in rural areas

1921
Radio broadcasts begin

 

 

 

1930

1930
13% of all farms have electricity

1936
Rural Electrification Act (REA) greatly improves quality of rural life

1940

1940
58% of all farms have cars; 25% have phones; 33% have electricity

 

 

 

1950

1950s
Television widely accepted; many rural areas lose population as farm family members seek outside work

1954
70.9% of all farms have cars; 49% have phones; 93% have electricity;Social Security coverage extended to farm operators

1960

1962
REA authorized to finance education TV in rural areas

1968
83% of all farms have phones; 98.4% have electricity

1970

1970s
Rural areas experience prosperity and immigration

1968
90% of all farms have phones; 98.6% have electricity

 

 

1980

Mid-1980s
Low prices and indebtedness affect many farmers in the Midwest; many rural counties decline in population

1990-2000

1990-99
Farm families make up less than 10 percent of rural population but rural areas experience some growth

 

 

 

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