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Country Girl
Country Girl

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.

Image source: Chicago Historical Society
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project