Illinois and Midwest Agricultural History Books

Throughout the past several years I have run across several books that cover Illinois, Midwest or agricultual history. When you are working on family history research you need to read books to find contextual information on the places where you ancestors lived and the work that your ancestors performed when they were alive.

Several of my ancestor on the maternal side of my family were farmers. One book that I purchased was Carrie Meyer’s Days on the Family Farm: From the Golden Age through the Great Depression (University of Minnesota Press. 2007)

Here is a brief description of Meyer’s book from the publisher:

From the beginning of the twentieth century to World War II, farm wife May Lyford Davis kept a daily chronicle that today offers a window into a way of life that has all but disappeared. May and her husband Elmo lived through two decades of prosperity, the Great Depression, and two World Wars in their Midwestern farming community. May and Elmo’s story, engagingly told by Carrie A. Meyer, showcases the large-scale evolution of agriculture from horses to automobile and tractors, a surprisingly vibrant family and community life, and the business of commercial farming. Details such as what items were bought and sold, what was planted and harvested, the temperature and rainfall, births and deaths, and the direction of the wind are gathered to reveal a rich picture of a world shared by many small farmers.

While May and Elmo Davis were not my relatives the fact that they lived on a farm near Rockford Illinois in northern Illinois attracted my attention and interest enough to purchase the book. The Schlicks and the Daleidens were farming families and also lived in Illinois. The time I spent reading this book provided some “flesh and bones” to what it was like to live and work as farmers from the turn of the twentieth century through the Great Depression of the nineteen thirties.

An added bonus within the text of the books was the fact that Meyer included some local and national events that occurred during Elmo and May Davis’ lifetime. My point in listing this book is our ancestors did not live in bubbles. National events ( e.g. the Great Depression and World War II) did impact their lives and at a local level.

American Agriculture : Brief History

R. Douglas Hunt. American Agriculture: A Brief History ( John Wiley & Sons. 1994). Douglas’ book I happened to stumble upon and purchase while attending the Public Library Association Conference when it was held in Indianapolis Indiana. I simply love this book due to the fact that it provides a capsule history of farming and agriculature in the United States.

When I first look at a book I read the dust jacket blurb, then the introduction and acknowlegement pages. I then review the bibliography of works consulted and the footnotes of the book. I gain insight into the authors use of other sources that I might be able to tap into for my research. I then probe and skim through the index to look at the subjects it covers such as the headings: Illinois, Midwest, and Chicago.

Douglas throughout the book provides an overview of what was happening in different regions of the country involving farms and farming. My point in recommending this book is that it provides general on farming in the United States in general and farming in the midwest region specifically. This book has proven to be an excellent resource for my Daleiden and Schlick family research.

William A. Gabler. Death of the Dream: Classic Minnesota Farmhouses (Afton Historical Society Press 1997).

This book by William Gabler provides some haunting photographs of old farm houses and farmsteads in Minnesota. I liked the book because it provided information on the floor plans and layouts of old farm homes and the utlitarian uses of the farm properties.

About Schlick Daleiden Families - DuPage and Kane Counties of Illinois

Kevin Davis is a retired Public Library Director. He is a Board member of the Winfield (IL) Historical Society. Davis has over 35 years experience working in public libraries. He is deeply interested in local Chicagoland, Dupage, and Kane County History. Davis earned a BA in History and an MA in Library Science from Dominican University. He is a volunteer researcher for the St. James Farm Forest Preserve part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County in Illinois. His work includes extensive writing and research on the McCormick family line who were former owners of St. James Farm. He is an avid family historian / genealogist and has done extensive research on the Schlicks and Daleidens of DuPage and Kane County Illinois.
This entry was posted in Genealogy Sources, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.