Historic Family Farms: New Approaches to Their Preservation and Interpretation

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Holden, Joshua Ethan
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Middle Tennessee State University
This dissertation explores issues in rural historic preservation by examining existing scholarship, issues, and approaches while also evaluating and suggesting new approaches to the preservation of rural history and landscapes. Rural areas and family farms are under increasing development pressure and threatened by urban sprawl. Without these resources, we are perilously close to losing key parts of American rural history. The dissertation focuses on Tennessee since it has one of the oldest historic family farm preservation efforts in the nation in the form of its Tennessee Century Farms Program, which was established in 1975. The files gathered from this program form the backbone of the dissertation. This dissertation focuses on twenty-first century challenges facing rural landscapes in Tennessee and articulates potential solutions to these preservation and conservation issues. The dissertation makes extensive use of case studies, as well as information from the Tennessee Century Farms Program, to blend agricultural history with landscape conservation and public history best practice to draw conclusions on how public historians and historic preservationists can contribute to the preservation of family farms and rural landscapes. The geographic scope of the dissertation covers all three grand divisions of Tennessee. In doing so, the dissertation can compare and contrast preservation approaches for rural resources across the state.
African American Century Farms, Agricultural History, Public History, Rural Preservation, Tennessee Century Farms Program, Wilson County Century Farms, History, Agriculture