This illustration depicts a young woman at work in a farm yard. While
many urban women began to think of themselves as the keepers of a domestic
sphere, rural women often continued to perform manual labor on farms.
Despite the realities of farm life, in which women's work made up a vital
part of the whole enterprise, many rural women found ways to secure some
form of domestic refinement for themselves. This image depicts this transition
at several levels. Note that the young woman, while feeding hogs, wears
a delicate bonnet and a respectable dress. She clearly represents industry
and virtue in this image, as several men loaf on the nearby porch and
others brawl in the background. These men, like the urban men attended
by stay at home wives, were clearly in need of a woman's civilizing presence.
Thus many rural women came to see themselves as similar to their urban
sisters in their quest to reorganize American life around improved individual
habits and mores.