Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Ronald D. Eller


This study examines agriculture in the Inner Bluegrass Region of Central Kentucky from 1850 to 1880. It utilizes an agroecological perspective, which interprets agriculture through the lens of ecology, to highlight the complex natural and cultural factors that combined to form one of the nation's most prosperous agricultural systems during the nineteenth century. Chapter One explores the agroecosytem Bluegrass farmers created and maintained, emphasizing dynamics in crop and livestock diversity and agricultural technology. Chapter Two examines the African-American labor force that played a key role in shaping the system, first as slaves and later as free men and women. Chapter Three addresses the cultural outlooks and institutions that influenced land use patterns, ranging from beliefs on proper methods of cultivation to voluntary organizations designed to facilitate market access. Through an examination of the various influences at work on the agricultural environment, the landscape emerges as a dynamic factor, rather than a passive backdrop, in Inner Bluegrass history.