Melissa Walker

Access Type

Online access to this book is only available to eligible users.



Download Full Text (1.6 MB)


The industrial expansion of the twentieth century brought with it a profound shift away from traditional agricultural modes and practices in the American South. The forces of economic modernity—specialization, mechanization, and improved efficiency—swept through southern farm communities, leaving significant upheaval in their wake. In an attempt to comprehend the complexities of the present and prepare for the uncertainties of the future, many southern farmers searched for order and meaning in their memories of the past. This book explores the ways in which a diverse array of farmers remember and recount the past. The book tells the story of the modernization of the South in the voices of those most affected by the decline of traditional ways of life and work. The book analyzes the recurring patterns in their narratives of change and loss, filling in gaps left by more conventional political and economic histories of southern agriculture. The book also highlights the tensions inherent in the relationship between history and memory. The book employs the concept of “communities of memory” to describe the shared sense of the past among southern farmers. History and memory converge and shape one another in communities of memory through an ongoing process in which shared meanings emerge through an elaborate alchemy of recollection and interpretation.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY




978-0-8131-7150-0 (pdf version)


978-0-8131-3741-4 (epub version)



American South, Economic modernity, Specialization, Mechanization, Efficiency, Southern farmers, Communities, Agriculture


Agriculture | Cultural History | Oral History | United States History

Southern Farmers and Their Stories: Memory and Meaning in Oral History
Read Sample Off-campus Download

Non-UKY University Press users, please click the blue download button to access from a UPK consortium network