Soil and the Soul: The Healing Effects of Farming in Nineteenth-Century America.
Meldon, Perri S.
- This thesis uses the example of almshouses, mental hospitals, and Transcendentalist utopian communities to examine the rise, fall, and recurring cycle of the belief that farming was a cure for society's ills in nineteenth-century America. It argues that sowing the ground and working with the soil was considered good for the soul, according to these institutions and communities. With a number of ... read moremost Transcendentalist communities, mental hospitals, and almshouses rejecting the sole use of farming by the mid- to late 1800s, agriculture faded from popularity and other practices were utilized. However, the presence of farming in the nineteenth century was just one part of a recurring cycle of the popularity of agriculture, as can be seen by the number of agrarian revivals in the early twentieth century, 1960s, and today. By analyzing these three movements in the context of industrialization and religious revivalism, particularly in New England, this thesis examines why farming became the predominant activity utilized by a number of nineteenth-century institutions, and why the ideal faded and transformed in the later decades of the 1800s.read less