Outdoor, Farm, and Living History Museums and Websites
Many of these do research in rural history, and some document it on-line, in images, primary documents, research papers, and related materials. Every one of these sites is of interest for its representation of the rural past. Our links include a comprehensive list supplemented by several that we have found particularly enjoyable, rich, and/or pertinent.
Great Link to a Comprehensive List of Open Air Museums
The Rural History Confederation
The Rural History Confederation (RHC) is an association of seventeen museums and historic sites in southeastern Pennsylvania. They are dedicated to preserving the past and promoting historical awareness of the region. A visit to one or all of these historical museums will give you a comprehensive view of how the region has blossomed from colonial times through the industrial age.
Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum
The Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum is a community museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting Cole Harbour's agricultural past, and to developing understanding of plants, animals and farming today. It is not owned or controlled by any level of government but is administered by the volunteer Board of Directors of the Cole Harbour Rural Heritage Society.
The Boundary Museum Online
The Boundary Museum is dedicated to providing an in depth look into the history of Grand Forks, and the surrounding area. There is a wealth of regional information as well as a collection pertaining to the Doukhobor heritage of the area.
Shelburne Museum, Vermont
The Farmer's Museum
The Farmers' Museum is a private educational institution, serving the public, that is dedicated to representing American rural life as typified in central New York by preserving the past, recording the present and educating for the future.
Colonial Williamsburg, in Williamsburg, Virginia, is the world’s largest living history museum—the restored 18th-century capital city of Britain’s largest, wealthiest, and most populous outpost of empire in the New World. Here we interpret the origins of the idea of America, conceived decades before the American Revolution.
The Conner Prairie Rural History Project
The Rural History Project is a community documentation and heritage preservation effort undertaken by Conner Prairie to study and preserve the history of rural life in Hamilton County, Indiana from 1875 to the present.
The soul of 19th-century America comes alive, with horse-drawn wagons, livestock and fields of ripening vegetables and grain in scenes straight from the nation's agricultural revolution. At Firestone Farm, see living history presentations minus modern conveniences, from daily household chores to seasonal field work, demonstrating how people truly lived off the land.
Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer
Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer offers a hands-on living history experience that tells the story of early town building in Nebraska.
For nearly forty years, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer has given visitors a glimpse of pioneer life. Described as a "crossroads in time," Stuhr Museum preserves and portrays the inspiring story of the pioneer town builders who created the first communities in Nebraska. The pioneers who challenged the land did not think their story remarkable, but visitors and students are amazed at the spirit and accomplishments of common people who shared a vision for the future and built satisfying and productive lives on the prairie..
This site is based on Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's work with the diary
of Martha Ballard, a midwife in eighteenth century Maine.
Martha's diary uncovers a great deal about her life
as a healer and midwife, mother and wife. We come to realize that
Martha Ballard was a respected member of the community, depended
upon by the inhabitants of Hallowell, Maine from 1785 until her death
in 1812. Through her diary, we can also glimpse the lives of the
town's other inhabitants--the ordinary people who are normally invisible
to us when we look back into the past. DoHistory also offers helpful
advice for reading and interpreting rural diaries.
Universities with Active Rural History or Rural Studies Programs
The Museum of English Rural Life
The Museum of English Rural Life was founded by the University of Reading in 1951 to reflect and record the changing face of farming and the countryside. It houses Designated collections of national importance that span the full range of objects, archives, photographs, film and books. Today, it forms part of the University's Museums and Collections Service.
Rural Research Centre at Nova Scotia Agricultural College
The RRC, in the past, has been engaged in research on contemporary rural issues such as sustainable forest management and rural teen sexuality. Current research foci include rural working-class masculinity, rural women's use of home and herbal remedies and home-based health knowledge, rural policy implications of sustainable development, and farm health. Centre staff are also involved in undergraduate program development, international work, enrichment and outreach activities in the Maritime region, and teaching that engages both contemporary and historical rural realities in globally-oriented, multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary ways.
University of Otago, New Zealand
A very good article on rural history resources such as diaries and account books stored in Hocken Collections at the University of Otago.
Core Historical Literature of Agriculture
The Core Historical Literature of Agriculture (CHLA) is a core electronic collection
of agricultural texts published between the early nineteenth century and the
middle to late twentieth century. Full-text materials cover agricultural economics,
agricultural engineering, animal science, crops and their protection, food
science,forestry, human nutrition, rural sociology, and soil science.
The Hive and the Honey Bee
Based on one of the largest and most complete apiculture libraries
in the world, The Hive and the Honey Bee consists of the full text
of ten rare books from the Phillips' Beekeeping Collection.
HEARTH (Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition and History)
HEARTH is a full-text electronic collection of books and
journals in Home Economics and related disciplines. Titles published
1850 and 1950 were selected and ranked by teams of scholars for their
great historical importance.
The Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium Photograph Collection
Three photograph collections document specimens, portraits, agricultural
equipment, and pest control practices since 1880.
Many archives (including university archives) include at least
some collections that have documents useful to rural historians. Some such materials are covered by finding aids and other on-line research tools, but there is far more than these typically reveal. Ultimately, there is no substitute for reading the actual documents. Regional Rural History Sites
Library and Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
Archives of Ontario
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
British Columbia Archives
Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Records Office
Provincial Archives of Alberta
Provincial Archives Division, Newfoundland and Labrador
Provincial Archives of Manitoba
Provincial Archives of New Brunswick
Nova Scotia Archives
Saskatchewan Archives Board
Canadian Archival Information Network
McKee Archives at the University of Brandon
In 1975, Brandon University in cooperation with the Manitoba Pool Elevators, founded the Rural Resources Centre. The Centre was designed to provide rural Manitoba with resource materials for use in the discussion and analysis of problems related to rural social development. It was given a mandate to collect publications and archival materials related to the history of the Manitoba Pool Elevators, cooperative societies, churches, exhibitions, school districts, and Women’s Institutes.
Other History and Heritage Sites, particularly Canadian
Canada's Digital Collections
Candian Historical Association
Atlas of Canada
Historical Atlas of Canada
The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project
Professional genealogists have recognized the importance of these atlases for many years. Although some of these atlases were reprinted during the 1970s, the fact is that many of these reprints are becoming as rare as the originals. McGill's Rare Books and Special Collections Division is fortunate in owning copies of many of the original atlases.
Begun in July 1998, the County Atlas pilot project initially encompassed ten atlases. Two subsequent Phases allowed the completion of the Ontario map, ultimately totalling forty-three atlases.
The County Atlas Digital Project is a searchable database of the property owners' names which appear on the township maps in the county atlases. Township maps, portraits and properties have been scanned, with links from the property owners' names in the database.
Canadian Census/Census of Agriculture Online
The British North America (BNA) Act of 1867 determined that a census would be taken every 10 years starting in 1871. However, rapid expansion in western Canada at the turn of the last century made a more frequent census necessary. Starting in 1896, a separate Census of Agriculture was taken every five years in Manitoba, and in Alberta and Saskatchewan beginning in 1906.
Although the Census of Agriculture and the Census of Population are conducted at the same time, they do have separate questionnaires. Most of the development, testing, processing, data validation and preparation for disseminating data for the Census of Agriculture and the Census of Population is handled by different groups within Statistics Canada. However, collecting the data and sharing communications activities for both censuses streamlines procedures and reduces costs considerably. Another important benefit of conducting the two together is that information from the two questionnaires can be linked to create the Census of Agriculture - Population Linkage database. This unique database, started in 1971, provides users with a wealth of information pertaining to the social and economic characteristics of the farm population.
PBS' Death of a Dream: Rural Farmhouses
The one-hour documentary, featuring stunning photography, weaves a tapestry combining images of vanishing farmhouses with stories of historians, farm experts, and people who lived "the dream" of life on the farm. In Death of the Dream viewers meet Lisa Rainey, a college geography student who has chronicled the stories behind vacant farmhouses that were once prosperous rural residences on the prairie.
The Wisconsin Historical Society
The Wisconsin Historical Society is both a state agency and a private membership organization. Founded in 1846, two years before statehood, and chartered in 1853, it is the oldest American historical society to receive continuous public funding. It is charged with collecting, advancing, and disseminating knowledge of Wisconsin and of the trans-Allegheny West.
Almost any historical journal will include material relevant to
rural history. We list only a handful of the possibilities. On-line access to
journal articles is available through subscribing libraries; consult Trellis
for those available to students and faculty at the University of Guelph.
Rural History is well known as a stimulating forum for interdisciplinary exchange. Its definition of rural history ignores traditional subject boundaries to foster the cross-fertilisation which is essential for an understanding of rural society. It stimulates original scholarship and provides access to the best of recent research. While concentrating on the English-speaking world and Europe, the journal is not limited in geographical coverage. Subject areas include: agricultural history; historical ecology; folklore; popular culture and religion; rural literature; landscape history, archaeology and material culture; ethnography, anthropology and rural sociology; the study of women in rural society; relationships between the urban and the rural; and the politics of rural societies.
An index to the articles in this journal is available.
Agricultural History, the official journal of the Agricultural History Society, explores agricultural developments over time, in all geographies, and among all peoples. Agricultural History is issued quarterly and publishes a range of articles on institutions, organizations, methodologies, and sciences—all of which have been contributing factors in agricultural growth. The journal includes innovative research, timely book and film reviews, and special issues that unite diverse methodology under one agriculture history-related theme.
Agricultural History Review
This list of the articles published in Agricultural History Review since 1953 is now available and is provided to help intending purchasers of back issues. It will be extended to include the complete contents of the Review as soon as possible. Click here to see the list. This journal is published by the British Agricultural History Society. The Society was founded in 1952, to promote the study of agricultural history and the history of the rural economy and society. It publishes the Agricultural History Review, bibliographies, lists of dissertations and works in progresses, holds conferences and promotes the conservation of historically significant landscapes
A starting point for on-line discussions, etc. Many other
elements of H-Net and H-Canada may also include rural material.
The primary purpose of H-Rural is to facilitate discussions about scholarship and teaching in rural and agricultural history. We welcome contributions such as conference announcements, calls for papers, course syllabi, conference reports, news of new datasets, and other items related to our focus, rural and agricultural history over time and place.
The purpose of H-Canada is to provide a forum discussing the history of Canada and other related subjects (sociology, political studies, literature, women's studies, Canadian studies etc). There are no chronological or topical limits. H-Canada is a bilingual (French and English) discussion list.
The Canadian Rural Research Network
The Canadian Rural Research Netowrk is foccussed on "Sharing rural research and connecting rural research stakeholders"