HISTORY PROFESSOR PUBLISHES
BOOK ON FARM PRESS - 9/8/05
Fry, associate professor of history, presented his book, The Farm
Press, Reform, and Rural Change, 1895-1920, to students and faculty
Wednesday, September 7. The book, based on his dissertation, focuses
on farm newspapers published in the Midwest, and their audiences at
the turn of the 20th Century.
Fry grew up in western Pennsylvania
and explored the topic as the subject of his doctoral dissertation before
publishing his findings in a book last spring.
"I was interested in what
farmers were reading at that time and whether or not they heeded the advice
they found in the pages of popular farm magazines of the day," Fry said.
"What I discovered is they didn't always take the advice of the editors,
many of whom were stationed in Chicago and other major cities."
One idea put forth by the
farm magazines at the turn of the last century was the consolidation of
one-room school houses into metropolitan districts. "That idea didn't get
a warm reception in 1920-in fact, it wasn't until after World War II that
most rural school districts consolidated and became part of a larger district,"
Fry said. "That's just one example of how these magazines tried to influence
the rural community."
Among the publications he
examined in his book was Prairie Farmer magazine, a general farm magazine
with more than 100,000 subscribers in 1920. The tabloid-sized publication
featured 64 to 200 pages every week and covered topics of interest to farmers
and their wives. The publication included news and information about farming
practices, housekeeping tips, recipes, and advertisements for all types
of consumer goods from soap to cars.
"This magazine is still published
today although it is now a slick,glossy, regular-size monthly," Fry said,
noting the contemporary version now targets a specific niche market.
Fry's book, written for academic
libraries, is available online. For more information or to buy a copy of
the book, visit www.amazon.com.