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Cover for Pennsylvania Farming

Pennsylvania Farming

A History in Landscapes

Sally McMurry


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Since precolonial times, agriculture has been deeply woven into the fabric of Pennsylvania’s history and culture. Pennsylvania Farming presents the first history of Pennsylvania agriculture in than more sixty years and offers a completely new perspective. Sally McMurry goes beyond a strictly economic approach and considers the diverse forces that helped shape the farming landscape, from physical factors to cultural repertoires to labor systems. Above all, the people who created and worked on Pennsylvania’s farms are placed at the center of attention. More than 150 photographs inform the interpretation, which offers a sweeping look at the evolution of Pennsylvania’s agricultural landscapes right up to the present day.

Praise For Pennsylvania Farming: A History in Landscapes

“An outstanding contribution to scholarship on Pennsylvania’s historic agriculture. It merges lively writing with a careful analysis of documentary sources and field research on the state’s buildings and landscapes. The book explores one of the nation’s oldest and most complex ecological and cultural regions to arrive at sensible explanations about why rural landscapes in the Keystone State look the way they do and how they got that way.”
—Ritchie Garrison, Director, Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, and Professor of History at the University of Delaware

“Historical, social, economic, and cultural forces intersected to shape Pennsylvania’s agricultural landscapes. Pennsylvania Farming shows how common farm buildings and landscape features such as cisterns, contour strips, and tree lines can be ‘read’ to reveal a complex layered history that offers a fresh perspective on modern-day issues such as sustainability, local foods, diversification, and small-scale agriculture.”
—Gabrielle M. Lanier, James Madison University

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822945154, 496pp.

Publication Date: December 12, 2017

About the Author

Sally McMurry is professor emerita of history at Pennsylvania State University and former president of the Agricultural History Society. She is the author of a number of books on landscape and architectural history, including most recently From Sugar Camps to Star Barns: Rural Life and Landscape in a Western Pennsylvania Community.