Housing in Rural America: A Historical Look Back

Housing Photos of the National Agricultural Library Special Collections


Minnesota - Farm No. 3: Polk County, MN

The National Agricultural Library’s Special Collections includes two unique photo/illustration manuscript collections of housing in the United States.  

The first collection is a snapshot in time from 1965 housing when Martin L. Mosher, Farm Management Specialist in the Agricultural Extension Service in Illinois, went throughout the United States taking photographs of different types of farmsteads.  These photographs are examples of rural housing, some seen here, and are a sampling from the 7-volume set that includes 570 mounted photos with descriptions.  The entire collection is now available through a partnership of the Internet Archive and the National Agricultural Library: https://archive.org/details/CAT30188651.

  • NAL Special Collections:  “The Martin L. Mosher Manuscript is a seven-volume manuscript titled, "Farmstead Pictures of the United States of North America at the Middle of the Twentieth Century" (1965); it contains 570 mounted illustrations textually documented, depicting the historic, geographic, and economic setting of farm people within each of the states.”
New Farmhouse Eatonton, Georgia.jpg

New Farmhouse: Eatonton, GA

The second collection comes from the USDA History Manuscripts collection and the Division of Agricultural Engineering section.  It includes numerous black and white photos taken of different types of housing built throughout the United States.  Some include farmhouse research done by the USDA and cooperating educational institutions.

Collection Number: 256
Collection Name: USDA Division of Agricultural Engineering Records
Bulk Dates: 1919-1940
Linear Feet: 40
Collection Description: The USDA Division of Agricultural Engineering Records contain photographs, glass negatives, and acetate negatives relating to agricultural engineering. Some of the subjects include irrigation, drainage, farm buildings, farm power and machinery, crops and crop conditioning, harvesting, care and handling of products, road construction, and farm electrification.