Sowing the American Dream: How Consumer Culture Took Root in the Rural Midwest

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Ohio University Press, 2000 - Business & Economics - 282 pages
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From 1840 to 1900, midwestern Americans experienced firsthand the profound economic, cultural, and structural changes that transformed the nation from a premodern, agrarian state to one that was urban, industrial, and economically interdependent. Midwestern commercial farmers found themselves at the heart of these changes. Their actions and reactions led to the formation of a distinctive and particularly democratic consumer ethos, which is still being played out today.

By focusing on the consumer behavior of midwestern farmers, Sowing the American Dream provides illustrative examples of how Americans came to terms with the economic and ideological changes that swirled around them. From the formation of the Grange to the advent of mail-order catalogs, the buying patterns of rural midwesterners set the stage for the coming century.

Carefully documenting the rise and fall of the powerful purchasing cooperatives, David Blanke explains the shifting trends in collective consumerism, which ultimately resulted in a significant change in the way that midwestern consumers pursued their own regional identity, community, and independence.
  

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Contents

The Midwest Midwestern Farmers and the Origins of a Regional Consumer Heritage 18251860
12
The Formation of a Consumer Ethos in the Rural Midwest
31
Agents and the Development of a DemandDriven Consumer Economy 18401861
66
The Expression of Rural Consumer Ideology 18651875
94
Advertising and Consumer Patterns 18651880
132
The Renunciation of the Rural Consumer Ethos by the Patrons of Husbandry 18751882
161
The Commercialization of the Rural Consumer Ethos 18731906
184
Conclusion
216
Delaware County Granges
221
Advertisements
227
Notes
233
Index
279
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About the author (2000)

David Blanke resides in northwest Iowa where he is an assistant professor of history at Briar Cliff College.

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