An alternative means of field research: Extending material culture analysis to farm implements

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Abstract

This article continues a series about material culture studies and analysis in agricultural history research. Farm implements and machinery collections, even without extensive documentation of their farmer-owners, are wealthy sources of information that bring tangible materials to enlighten existing methods of agricultural research. This essay expands upon the application of E. McClung Fleming's model for material culture analysis and offers a methodological case study using extant examples of Deere & Company's No. 999 Two-Row Planter. It suggests the ways that historians can research and incorporate information from farm implements to better understand cultural and farming practices either on the individual farm or in broader analyses of regional agriculture. Their application requires a commitment to the principles of material culture and some time, but the results can provide an array of research findings that likely would not be captured through use of traditional resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-537
Number of pages21
JournalAgricultural History
Volume88
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

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