American Studies Home Site Map Gallery of Prints Writing Across the Curriculum Currier & Ives Introduction Currier & Ives Opening

A beautiful town on the edge of vast, rich farmland; sheep crossing a real western farm, barren and dry.

"The Western Farmer's Home" 1871

Currier and Ives made numerous prints of farms in both the East and the West. Typical farm scenes include a yard full of plump livestock and fowl. Lolling about are happy, healthy children and adults. All are well dressed and attractive. Prosperity is clearly in attendance (Cronin 319).

Nowhere is the impact of mechanical inventions, scientific agriculture, or the railroad industry indicated. Nor is the gradual depersonalization, capitalization, and commercialization that resulted from these changes and forced farmers deep into debt.

Forrest McDonald, writing in The Last Best Hope: A History of the United States, noted that the farmer of the late nineteenth century:

had to keep up with market changes over which he had no control. When the price of his products fell, he could no longer pull in his horns and wait for a better day. ... In short, his life was nearly as nerve-wracking as the city dweller's (584)

Little wonder, then, that prints of Currier and Ives wound up on the walls of barns and sheds, where they provided a reminder of the dream that drove settlers West.

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American Studies Home Site Map Gallery of Prints Writing Across the Curriculum Currier & Ives Introduction Currier & Ives Opening

Site created by Marcy McDonald, American Studies, UVA. Last modified: July 30, 2005. E-mail: asgrp@virginia.edu

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