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Graduate Students

Nelson, C. - M.A

The Very Best Crop: Rural Children and the Family Economy in Early Twentieth Century Huron County - Dr. Catharine Wilson, advisor        

         This thesis is an investigation of the role of rural children within the family economy in Huron County, Ontario. Utilizing rural periodicals and oral history interviews it examines how children were perceived in the rural press, the chores they performed on the family farm and how their leisure time was utilized. In particular, children served as a flexible source of labour, performing daily chores and providing extra help in the planting and harvest seasons. Parents and their children negotiated how children's labour power was utilized, taking into consideration age, ability, gender, birth order, need and family circumstance. The labour and leisure activities of rural children reinforced the family economy by promoting the skills and values they would need as adults, ensuring the viability and profitability of the family farm, as well as preparing children for their futures as farmers.