A Settlement Ecology Approach to Examining the Transition to Commercial Farming in Upstate New York, 1855-1875
This is a poster submission presented at the 2021 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.
This research combines agricultural census data, GIS-based spatial analyses of historic maps, and historic accounts to examine how and why farmers in Fenner, NY transitioned from subsistence to commercial production during 1855-1875. Traditional explanations cite the burgeoning consumer economy and progressive farming movements pushed by corporate entities as factors and propose farmers commercialized by focusing on dairying. Our results suggest that farmers produced surplus earlier than previously thought and that increasing production across diverse ventures was as critical as dairying. This supports McMurry’s assertions that the process was complex and drawn out and that farmers were not simply reacting to the changing economy. They balanced self-sufficiency, risk, and surplus production. This contrasts with modern commercial farmers, who are pressured into monolithic economies of extraction in a corporate industrialized agricultural system. Understanding this change through archaeology and working with modern communities is important for improving modern rural economic and social conditions.
Cite this Record
A Settlement Ecology Approach to Examining the Transition to Commercial Farming in Upstate New York, 1855-1875. Eric E. Jones, Emma Grace Sprinkle. 2021 ( tDAR id: 459405)
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Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology