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May 28, 2010
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v2.1 Reference

Country Women Cope With Hard Times

A Collection of Oral Histories

"It was hard times," French Carpenter Clark recalls, a sentiment unanimously echoed by the sixteen other women who talk about their lives in Country Women Cope with Hard Times. Born between 1890 and 1940 in eastern Tennessee and western South Carolina, these women grew up on farms, in labor camps, and in remote towns during an era when the region's agricultural system changed dramatically. As daughters and wives, they milked cows, raised livestock, planted and harvested crops, worked in textile mills, sold butter and eggs, preserved food, made cloth, sewed clothes, and practiced remarkable resourcefulness. Their recollections paint a vivid picture of rural life in the first half of the twentieth century for a class of women underrepresented in historical accounts.

Through her edited interviews with these women, Melissa Walker provides firsthand descriptions of the influence of modernization on ordinary people struggling through the agricultural depression of the 1920s and 1930s and its aftermath. Their oral histories make plain the challenges such women faced and the self-sacrificing ways they found to confront hardship. While the women detail the difficulties of their existence—the drought years, early freezes, low crop prices, and tenant farming—they also recall the good times and the neighborly assistance of well-developed mutual aid networks, of which women were the primary participants.


All of the stories in Country Women Cope with Hard Times are wonderful windows to the past.

Charleston (S.C.) Post & Courier
This book chronicles a history that has until now often been confined to the oral traditions of family life, passed from grandmother to child, escaping the notice of outsiders.

Women's Review of Books
This book is a goldmine of information about country women who have left few or no written records, and were otherwise socially marginalized, and it stands as a permanent record of a past way of life.

Rural History
In vivid, compelling accounts, women tell how they cared for their families, sought educational opportunities for their children, celebrated holidays and assisted neighbors through mutual aid networks. . . . A wonderful collection for historians and scholars interested in what southern rural women have to say about their lives in the early twentieth century.

Labor History
Through rare glimpses into the interior lives of country women, the book reminds readers that women were experiencing monumental historical developments alongside equally monumental personal challenges.

North Carolina Historical Review

9781570039539 : country-women-cope-with-hard-times-walker
Paperback / softback
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Other Titles by Melissa A. Walker

Southern Women in the Progressive Era

edited by Giselle Roberts, Melissa A. Walker, foreword by Marjorie J. Spruill
Jan 2019 - University of South Carolina Press
$59.99 USD - Hardback

Recovering the Piedmont Past

edited by Timothy P. Grady, Andrew H. Myers, foreword by Melissa A. Walker
Dec 2018 - University of South Carolina Press
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Recovering the Piedmont Past

edited by Timothy P. Grady, Melissa A. Walker
Sep 2013 - University of South Carolina Press
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Other Titles from Women's Diaries and Letters of the South

A Dream and a Chisel

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Jan 2019 - University of South Carolina Press
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A New Southern Woman

edited by Giselle Roberts
Jan 2013 - University of South Carolina Press
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Dearest Hugh

edited by Suzanne Cameron Linder Hurley
Sep 2011 - University of South Carolina Press
$18.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies

Avala Is Falling

Biljana Jovanovic
Jan 2020 - Central European University Press
$17.95 USD - Paperback / softback

In the Neighborhood

Caroline Wigginton
Jan 2020 - University of Massachusetts Press
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Gendered Mediation

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