The American yeoman: an historical ecology of production in colonial Pennsylvania Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Scholl, Michael David
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
  • This study examines climate, landscape and agricultural products, but it is essentially a study of an American yeoman class in colonial Pennsylvania. Yeomen emerged out of feudal hierarchies of manorial Europe as owner-operator agriculturalists. As part of the British colonization of North America, they reformed themselves into a social majority. In Pennsylvania they embraced shifting agriculture and a suite of risk-minimizing practices in response to changing weather patterns. By the end of the 18th century, the yeoman class had become a victim of its own success and it gave way to a class of farmers who used hired labor on rented land to chase a strong grain market. This work examines their changing ecological relations in order to explicate the American yeomen’s transformation into farmers. Historical ecology is an emerging theoretical approach which seeks to combine climate, social history, geography, and the practices of production in order to understand changes in landscape over the long-term. Information concerning class descriptions, agricultural products, livestock, bound labor, and risk-management strategies from 3551 inventoried households which contained about 25,000 people are placed within the context of social history, climatological observations and reconstructions, and geographic information system (GIS) data in order to chronicle the last days of the American yeoman.
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  • In Copyright
  • Crumley, Carole L.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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