Berks Panels of Interest, Part II

Over the next several weeks, we will be highlighting additional panels of interest at the upcoming Seventeenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders, and Sexualities to be held June 1-4, 2017, at Hostra University in Hempstead, New York, USA.  While these panels do not necessarily bill themselves as being about rural women, all of those we’ve chosen to highlight will examine issues of rurality in significant ways.

Berks Panels of Interest, Part II

s1545 – Alternative Agricultures: Women Farmers and Farm Workers in the Twentieth Century U.S.

Friday, June 2, 2017: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM

RSVLT 108 (Hofstra University)

Chair:

Stacy N. Roberts, University of California, Davis

Pickers, Packers, and Beauty Queens: Women’s Labor and Sex Symbolism in North Carolina’s Strawberry Fields and Festivals, 1900-1970 
Stacy N. Roberts, University of California, Davis

Yeomen With No Men: Female Farmers Eschewing Marriage in California, 1870-1900
Bethany Hopkins, University of California, Davis

Same Church, Different Pew: Women and Intentional Catholic Farming in the Hudson River Valley
Sally Dwyer-McNulty, Marist College

Comment:

Cynthia Culver Prescott, University of North Dakota

Session Abstract

This panel seeks to examine the role of women in agriculture throughout the long twentieth century in the continental United States. Panel chair, Stacy N. Roberts, takes us into the fields and festivals that marked the strawberry harvest season in rural North Carolina. Women were crucial to the success of this alterative crop in the Jim Crow South. The wages earned by both African American women and children mimicked the labor system seen elsewhere, particularly in the U.S. Southwest. Bethany Hopkins’s “Yeoman With No Men” takes us to the Southwest and the fields of sunny California where women owned and operated farms for various reasons. However, given the gender norms of the late nineteenth century, women who chose to remain single and operate a farm had to co-opt the language of domesticity to make their businesses acceptable to society at large. Finally, Sally Dwyer-McNulty moves the panel forward into the mid-twentieth century and the Hudson River Valley to examine the farming experiments of Catholic women and the leadership roles they nutured. Taken together, these papers will unearth the varied experiences of women in agriculture and demonstrate how they often challenged contemporary social and cultural norms.