ERIC Number: EJ911591
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Reference Count: 72
Civic Learning through County Fairs: Promoting the Useful and the Good in Nineteenth-Century Indiana
Lauzon, Glenn P.
American Educational History Journal, v37 n2 p387-405 2010
For most of the nineteenth century, county agricultural fairs had little to do with schools and schooling; nevertheless, they served as potent sources of learning. During the post-Civil War generation, most of the learning county agricultural fairs generated had little to do with livestock, crops, and cultivation; nevertheless, farmers and others learned a great deal about agriculture and its place in the rural community. These two propositions form the thrust of this paper. The first proposition addresses methodological issues that are of longstanding interest to educational historians: What constitutes education--its aims, institutions, curricula, and outcomes--within historical contexts? The second proposition addresses the potential effects of historians' expectations upon their inquiry. The author discusses how county agricultural fairs and their sponsoring societies offered farmers curricula for self-education in agriculture. He describes three factors that account for the civic significance of the county agricultural fair: (1) Prominent farmers were convinced that an agricultural fair had the potential to exert considerable influence on other farmers' vocational practice, if managed properly; (2) As the premier civic event at the county seat, the county fair brought a large swath of the community together in one place and displayed their character and priorities. Symbolically and literally it was an event for learning about the county-defined civic community, ones place in it, and other people's civic aspirations; and (3) Farmers were certain that the typical county fair of the 1870s was anything but an accurate representation of their values. Prominent farmers were determined to see that their concerns with promoting agriculture and the useful and the good were restored to their rightful places.
Descriptors: Citizenship Education, Counties, Agriculture, Exhibits, Informal Education, Educational History, Historians, Agricultural Occupations, United States History
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Indiana