Housing in Rural America: A Historical Look Back

Introduction to Housing in Rural America

Cover Art  for Better Homes in America Guidebook

Better Homes In America

IND43861719 house on the farm.pdf

The House on the Farm

"The American home is the foundation of our national and individual well-being. Its steady improvement is, at the same time, a test of our civilization and of our ideals." President Calvin Coolidge - from, "Better Homes In America."

Housing is a celebration of life and a unique glimpse into the lives of those who dwell within. This exhibit provides a look back to rural homes and the people who lived in them. Information is included on how people made decisions on what kind of home worked best for them. From the needs and wants to the economic reality, this exhibit is a glance into yesterday's rural homes.

This exhibit starts with examples of two unique photo collections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Library's Special Collections that include housing types in the United States that were documented by staff from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Next, is a look through historical articles and documents on planning for a home - whether to build, purchase, or rent. This section provides an insight into the decisions that went into developing housing in earlier rural America.

Then, browse through USDA Housing Blueprints.  Review flyers and actual blueprints for a wide range of rural dwellings from the typical farmhouse to a solar cottage. Although historical, these can provide a starting point for builders today.

Moving forward, there are articles, reports, and documents on housing for special populations that include rural elderly, farm workers, and Native Americans.

Finally, this exhibit provides a review of rural America housing policy, trends, and USDA housing programs revealed through articles, reports, and pamphlets from NAL Digital Collections (NALDC) and the NAL Collection within the Internet Archive.

"Farmhouses of the 1860s were the monuments of the times and the men who built them." From, "The House on the Farm."