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Title: Farm Boys and Girls

Date of first publication: 1913

Author: William A. McKeever

Date first posted: April 19, 2012

Date last updated: April 19, 2012

Faded Page ebook #20120411

This ebook was produced by: Barbara Watson, Pat McCoy & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

[Pg i]

The Rural Science Series

Edited by L. H. BAILEY


[Pg ii]

The Rural Science Series

The Soil.
The Spraying of Plants.
Milk and its Products.
The Fertility of the Land.
The Principles of Fruit-Growing.
The Principles of Agriculture. 15th Ed.
Irrigation and Drainage.
The Farmstead.
Rural Wealth and Welfare.
The Principles of Vegetable-Gardening.
Farm Poultry.
The Feeding of Animals.
The Farmer’s Business Handbook.
The Diseases of Animals.
The Horse.
How to Choose a Farm.
Forage Crops.
Bacteria in Relation to Country Life.
The Nursery-Book.
Plant-Breeding. 4th Ed.
The Forcing-Book.
The Pruning-Book.
Fruit-Growing in Arid Regions.
Rural Hygiene.
Law for the American Farmer.
Farm Boys and Girls.
The Training and Breaking of Horses.
Others in preparation.

[Pg iii]

Plate I.

Fig. 1.—At least once each day the busy farm father may think of a way to combine his work with the children’s play.

[Pg iv]




New York

All rights reserved

[Pg v]

Copyright, 1912,

Set up and electrotyped. Published February, 1912. Reprinted
August, 1912; January, June, 1913.

Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing Co.—Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.

[Pg vi]


[Pg vii]


In the preparation of this book I have had in mind two classes of readers; namely, the rural parents and the many persons who are interested in carrying forward the rural work discussed in the several chapters. It has been my aim to give as much specific aid and direction as possible. The first two chapters constitute a mere outline of some of the fundamental principles of child development. It would be fortunate if the reader who is unfamiliar with such principles could have a course of reading in the volumes that treat them extensively. Nearly every suggestion given in the main body of the book is based on what has already either been undertaken with a degree of success or planned for in some rural community.

I am very greatly indebted to the following persons and firms for their kindness and generosity in lending pictures and cuts for illustrating the book: E. T. Fairchild, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Topeka, Kansas; J. W. Crabtree, Principal State Normal School, River Falls, Wisconsin; George W. Brown, Superintendent of Edgar County, Paris, Illinois; O. J. Kern, Superintendent of Winnebago County, Rockford, Illinois; Miss[Pg viii] Jessie Fields, Superintendent of Page County, Clarinda, Iowa; A. D. Holloway, General Secretary, County Y.M.C.A., Marysville, Kansas; Dr. Myron T. Scudder, of Rutgers College; Doubleday, Page & Company, Garden City, New York; Rural Manhood, New York City; The Farmer’s Voice, Chicago, Illinois; The American Agriculturist, New York City; The Oklahoma Farmer, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; The Inland Farmer, Lexington, Kentucky; The Farmer’s Advocate, Winnipeg, Canada.

My thanks are also due Successful Farming, of Des Moines, Iowa, for permission to use excerpts from President Kirk’s article on the model school, and portions of a series of brief articles written for the same magazine by myself.

The references given at the close of the chapters have been selected with considerable care. It will be found in nearly every case that they give helpful and more extended discussions of the several topics treated in the preceding chapter.


Manhattan, Kansas.

[Pg ix]


I.Building a Good Life1
  What is a Good Life?2
   1. Good Health3
   2. Usefulness3
   3. Moral Strength4
   4. Social Efficiency5
   5. Religious Interest5
   6. Happiness6
  Is the Human Stock comparatively Sound?7
II.The Time to Build12
  What of the Human Instincts12
  The Dawning Instincts12
  Social Sensitiveness Helpful19
III.The Rural Home and Character Development26
  What Agencies build up Character?26
   1. Play27
   2. Work30
   3. Recreation33
  Moving to Town for the Children36
  A Back-to-the-country Club38
IV.The Country Mother and the Children41
  Poor Conditions of Women42
  For the Sake of the Children44
   1. Surplus Nerve Energy44
   2. A Rest Period45
   3. The Home Conveniences46
   4. The Mother’s Outings47
   5. The Home Help48
[Pg x]    6. The Children shield the Mother49
   7. Planning for the Children50
   8. A Common Conspiracy51
V.Constructing the Country Dwelling54
  Plans and Specifications not Available55
  What appeals to the Children57
  The House Plan59
  How One Farmer does It60
  Outbuildings and Equipment61
  Human Rights prior to Animal Rights61
  The Children’s Room64
  The Evening Hour67
VI.Juvenile Literature in the Farm Home69
  How Good Thinking grows up and Flourishes70
  Types of Literature72
  A Selected List75
  Literature on Child-rearing79
   1. Periodicals on Child-rearing80
   2. Books on Child-rearing80
VII.The Rural Church and the Young People82
  Decadence of Rural Life83
  Work for the Ministry84
  The Country Minister86
  A Mistake in Training89
  Rural Child-rearing90
  The Churches too Narrow92
  Constructive Work of the Church93
  An Innovation in the Rural Church     95
  Spiritualize Child Life97
  A Summary98
VIII.The Transformation of the Rural School101
  Radical Changes in the View-point and Method102
  All have a Right to Culture103
[Pg xi]   Work for a Longer Term105
  Compulsory Attendance Laws Needed106
  Better Schoolhouses and Equipment107
   1. Location108
   2. The Water Supply109
   3. Size and Adaptation of Grounds109
   4. Improvement of School Grounds110
  A Model Rural School112
  The Cornell Schoolhouse115
  Help make a School Play Ground117
  General Instruction in Agriculture120
  Domestic Economy and Home Sanitation122
  Consolidation of Rural Schools123
  More High Schools Needed124
  Better Rural Teachers Needed125
IX.The County Young Men’s Christian Association129
  Boys leave the Farm too Young130
  Purposes of the County Young Men’s Christian Association131
  How to organize a County Organization132
   1. Select a Good Leader133
   2. Local Leaders Necessary134
   3. A Committee on Finance134
   4. Little Property Ownership135
  How to conduct the Work136
   1. Local and County Athletic Clubs136
   2. Debating and Literary Clubs137
   3. Receptions and Suppers138
   4. Educational Tours and Problems138
   5. Camping and Hiking139
   6. Exhibitions139
  Spirituality not lost Sight Of141
  Work in a sparsely Settled Country143
[Pg xii]
X.The Farmer and his Wife as Leaders of the Young146
  Preparation for the Service147
  Work persistently for Social Unity149
  Corn-raising and Bread-baking Clubs150
  Other Forms of Contests151
  The Improvement of the School Situation152
  Home and School Play Problems154
  A Neighborhood Library156
  Holidays and Recreation for the Young158
  Many over-work their Children160
  Federation for Country-life Progress161
  The Vocations of Boys and Girls162
  Other Local Possibilities164
  The Boy Scout Movement165
  Rural Boy Scouts in Kansas166
XI.How Much Work for the Country Boy171
  See that the Work is for the Boy’s Sake172
  Not Enforced Labor, but Mastery174
  Provide Vacations for the Boy176
  A Tentative Schedule of Hours178
  Think out a Reasonable Plan179
XII.How Much Work for the Country Girl183
  A Balanced Life for the Girl185
  Work begins with Obedience186
  Working the Girls in the Field188
  Some Specific Suggestions189
  Do you Own your Daughter?190
  Difficult to make a Schedule191
  Teach the Girl Self-supremacy192
XIII.Social Training for Farm Boys and Girls197
  A Happy Mean is Needed197
  A Social Renaissance in the Country199
[Pg xiii]   Conditions to guard Against200
   1. The Social Companionship of Girls201
   2. Bad Companionships for Boys202
   3. Secret Sex Habits204
   4. The So-called Bad Habits205
  A Center of Community Life207
  Invite the Young to the House208
  How to conduct a Social Entertainment209
  What about the Country Dance?211
  Additional Forms of Entertainment212
   1. The Social Hour at the Religious Services212
   2. A Country Literary Society213
   3. The Social Side of the Economic Clubs215
  Some Concluding Suggestions215
XIV.The Farm Boy’s Interest in the Business220
  What is in your Boy?220
  Much Experimentation Necessary221
   1. Willingness to Work222
   2. Ability to Save223
  Start on a Small Scale224
  Give your Son a Square Deal225
  Keep the Boy’s Perfect Good Will226
  Some will be retained on the Farm227
  The Awakening often comes from Without229
  An Awakening in the South229
  Partnership between Father and Son231
  Summary and Concluding Suggestions232
XV.Business Training for the Country Girl235
  Is the Country Girl Neglected?236
  Why the Girl leaves the Farm237
  Certain Rules to be Observed239
   1. Teach the Girl to Work239
   2. Teach her Business Sense240
   3. Train her to transact Personal Business241
[Pg xiv]    4. Make her the Family Accountant242
   5. Miserliness to be Avoided243
   6. Teach her to Give244
   7. Teach the Meaning of a Contract245
   8. Prepare her to deal with Grafters246
  Should there be an Actual Investment?247
XVI.What Schooling should the Country Boy Have250
  Changes in Rural School Conditions250
  The Boy a Bundle of Possibilities252
  Classes of Native Ability253
  The Great Talented Class254
  Round out the Boy’s Nature256
  Other Important Matters257
  Develop an Interest in Humanity259
XVII.What Schooling should the Country Girl Have262
  Special Problems relating to the Girl262
  Protecting the Girl at School263
  Lessons in Music and Art265
  The Reward will come in Time267
  The Mother’s Office as Teacher268
  Home-life Education270
  Education for Supremacy271
  An Outlook for Social Life272
XVIII.The Farm Boy’s Choice of a Vocation275
  Should the Farmer’s Son Farm?275
  Impatience of Parents276
  What of Predestination?277
  Three Methods of Vocational Training279
   1. The Apprentice Method280
   2. The Cultural Method280
   3. The Developmental Method281
  The Farmer Fortunate282
[Pg xv]   What College for the Country Boy?283
  The Foundation in Work284
  Clean up the Place285
  Money Value of an Agricultural Education286
  A Successful Vocation Certain287
XIX.The Farm Girl’s Preparation for a Vocation290
  What is the Outlook?290
  Desirable Occupations for Women292
   1. May teach the Young293
   2. May take up Stenography294
   3. May do Social Work295
   4. May secure Clerkships296
  A College Course for the Girl298
  Associations with Refined Young Men299
  Make the Daughter Attractive300
  Summary and Conclusion301
XX.Conclusion and Future Outlook306
  Strive for Preconceived Results306
  Consult Expert Advice308
  Meet Each Awakening Interest310
  Work for Social Democracy311
  The Outlook very Promising312
  The Modern Service Training314
  The State doing its Part316
  The New Era of Religion319
  Final Conclusion319

[Pg xvii]


I.Fig. 1.At least once each day the busy farm father may think of a way to combine his work with the children’s playFrontispiece
II.Fig. 2.Canadian boys breaking young oxen6
III.Fig. 3.An attractive Kansas home28
IV.Fig. 4.A day nursery in the country42
V.Fig. 5.A rural home in the South56
VI.Fig. 6.A well-equipped farmhouse64
VII.Fig. 7.Children playing under the shade trees72
VIII.Figs. 8-9.Rural church, Plainfield, Illinois86
IX.Fig. 10.Village church at Ogden, Kansas92
X.Fig. 11.Corn Sunday in an Illinois church96
XI.Fig. 12.A country schoolhouse in California108
 Fig. 13.Type of model rural school used in Kansas108
XII.Fig. 14.Model rural school at Kirksville, Missouri. Normal112
XIII.Fig. 15.Rear view of the Kirksville school114
XIV.Fig. 16.Using Babcock tester120
XV.Figs. 17-21.Consolidated school and those it displaced124
XVI.Fig. 22.The Cornell rural schoolhouse126
XVII.Fig. 23.A.Y.M.C.A. play club132
XVIII.Fig. 24.Y.M.C.A. Convention in Ohio138
XIX.Fig. 25.Jerry Moore, champion corn raiser150
XX.Fig. 26.A lonely schoolhouse164
XXI.Fig. 27.Tennis in the country180
 Fig. 28.Country play festival180
XXII.Fig. 29.Industrial exhibit in rural school192
[Pg xviii] XXIII.Fig. 30.Agricultural and domestic science club208
XXIV.Fig. 31.School and church in Canada212
XXV.Fig. 32.Kansas prize winners230
XXVI.Fig. 33.Girls’ doll display238
XXVII.Fig. 34.Boys whittling252
XXVIII.Fig. 35.Study of corn256
XXIX.Fig. 36.School gardeners270
XXX.Fig. 37.Country schoolgirls290
XXXI.Fig. 38.A girls’ class in sewing300
XXXII.Fig. 39.Girl sowing seed312
 Fig. 40.Boy thinning vegetables312

[Pg 1]




If you were about to begin the construction of a dwelling house, what questions would most likely be uppermost in your mind? If this house were intended for your own use, you would doubtless consider among other important matters those of comfort, convenience of arrangement, attractiveness of appearance, strength, and durableness. The great variety of dwellings to be seen on every hand is outwardly expressive of the great variety of ideals in the minds of the people who construct them. No matter what means there may be available for the purpose, it may be said that he who builds a house thereby illustrates in concrete form his inner character.

With practically the same quality of materials, one man will construct a house apparently with the thought that its chief purpose is to be looked at. Much work and expense will be put upon outer show and embellishment, while in its inner arrangements it may be exceedingly cramped and thoughtlessly put together. Another will erect his building[Pg 2] with a thought of placing it on the market. Cheap workmanship, weak and faulty joinings, and the like, will be concealed by some thin covering meant to last until a profitable sale has been made and some innocent purchaser caught with a mere shell of a house in his possession. Occasionally, however, there is found a man whose plans conform to such ideals as those first named.

What is a good life?

As with the construction of a house, so it is in some measure with the building of a character. Some lives apparently are constructed to look at; that is, with the thought that outer adornment and a mere appearance of worth and beauty constitute the essential qualities. Other lives are, in a sense, made to sell. Not infrequently parents are found developing their boys and girls as if the chief purpose were to place them somewhere or other in the best possible money market. A life is worth only as much as it will bring in dollars and cents, is apparently the predominating thought of such persons. And then, occasionally, a life is built to live in; that is, with the idea that intrinsic worth constitutes the essential nature of the ideal character.

But what is a good life? And why is not this precisely the question for all parents to ask themselves at the time they begin the development of the lives of their own boys and girls? Assuming a[Pg 3] fairly sound physical and mental inheritance on the part of the child and the given environment as the raw materials of construction, what ideals should parents have uppermost in mind before undertaking the tremendously important and interesting duties of constructing worthy manhood and womanhood out of the inherent natures of their children?

1. Good health.—It is a difficult task to develop a sound, efficient life without the fundamental quality of good health. So it may be well to remind parents of this fact and to urge them especially to avoid in the lives of the children, first, the beginnings of those lighter ailments which frequently grow into menacing habits—for example, the diseases that become chronic as a result of unnecessary exposure to the weather—and second, those various contagious diseases which so often permanently deplete the health of children, such as scarlet fever and whooping cough. It is now held by medical authority that every reasonable effort should be made to prevent children from taking such infectious ailments—that the so-called diseases of children can and should be practically all avoided.

2. Usefulness.—The newer ideals of character-building call for the early training of all children as if they were to enter permanently upon some bread-winning pursuit. Such training is a most direct means of culture and refinement, provided it be correlated with the proper amount of book learning and[Pg 4] play and recreation. Such uniform and character-building discipline tends to preserve the solidarity of the race, and to acquaint all the young with the thoughts and feeling of the great productive classes. It may be this is now regarded as both a direct means of culture and of leading the young mind into an intimate acquaintance with the lives of the masses. Such training is regarded also as one of the best means of preserving our social democracy. Therefore, although on account of inherited wealth the child may apparently be destined for a life of comparative ease, even then there is every justification for teaching him early how to work as if he must do so to earn his own living. Much more will be said about this point later.

3. Moral strength.—In the construction of a good life, moral strength must be estimated as one of the important foundation stones. But this quality is not so much a gift of nature or an inheritance as it is an acquisition. It cannot be bought or acquired through merely hearing about it, but it must come as a result of a large number of experiences of trial and error. The child acquires moral self-reliance from the practice of overcoming temptation in proportion to his strength, the test being made heavier as fast as his ability to withstand temptation increases. As will be shown later, it proves weakening to the character of the growing child to keep him entirely free from temptation and the possible contamination of[Pg 5] his character in order that he may grow up “good.”

4. Social efficiency.—The good life is not merely self-sustaining in an economic way, but it is also trained in the performance of altruistic deeds. In building up the lives of the young it will be necessary and most helpful to think of the matter of social efficiency. Therefore, it will be seen to that the child have practice in assuming the leadership among his fellows, in taking the initiative on many little occasions, and in some instances to the extent of standing out against the combined sentiment of his young associates. Of course, during all this time he will be backed strongly by the advice and the insistent direction of his parents, the idea being to induce him to think out his own social problems and to carry forward any suitable plans of a social nature that he may devise.

5. Religious interest.—Few parents will deny that religious instruction is just as essential to the development of a good society as is intellectual instruction. Indeed, there is much evidence to bear out the conviction that religion is a deep and permanent instinct in all normal human beings. This being the case, it is fair to say that such an instinct should have some form of awakening and indulgence in the life of the child. However, there is no thought or intention of prescribing any particular form of religious faith. He might at least be sent to Sunday[Pg 6] school and to church regularly where he may be led to do a small amount of religious thinking on his own account.

6. Happiness.—The good life is a happy life. But nearly all the students of human problems seem to think that happiness eludes the grasp of the one who seeks it in a direct way. “I want my children to be happy and enjoy life,” is often the remark of well-meaning parents. They then proceed as if joy and happiness could be had for money. It is true that during his early years of indifference to any serious concern or personal responsibility, the child may be made extremely happy by giving him practically everything his childish appetites may call for and allowing him to grow up in idleness. But there comes a time when the normal individual begins to question his own personal and intrinsic worth. The instincts and desires of mature life come on and if there be not available the means for the realization of the better instinctive ambitions, then bitterness and woe are likely to become one’s permanent portion.

However, it may be put down as a certainty that happiness and contentment will naturally come in full measure into the life that has been well built during the years of childhood and youth. If the good health has been conserved, a life of usefulness and service prepared for, moral strength built into the character, social efficiency looked after continu[Pg 7]ously, and something of religious experience not neglected—it will most certainly follow as the day follows the night that the wholesome enjoyments and the durable satisfactions of living will come to such an individual.

Plate II.

Fig. 2.—These Canadian lads are enjoying their first lessons in live-stock management. We call their conduct play, but surely no one was ever more in earnest than they.

Is the human stock comparatively sound?

There are now among the students of the home problems many who are seriously interested in the matter of breeding a better human stock. Many noteworthy conclusions have already been reached, and ample proofs have been produced to show that the human animal follows the same general lines of evolution as do the lower animal orders. It is shown in general, for example, that little or nothing that man has learned or acquired during his life is transmitted to his offspring. That is, even though a man devote many years to the intensive study of music or mathematics or the languages, such study will not affect the ability of his child in the study of the specialized subject. The same unaffected result obtains in respect to any other form of expertness of the merely acquired sort. For example, the fact that a man through long practice becomes expert in the use of the typewriter does not affect the character of the child in respect to such ability. It is a no less difficult task for the child to learn to master the use of the typewriter keyboard.

On the other hand, it is shown very conclusively[Pg 8] that physical and mental characters inborn in the life of a parent tend at all times to be transmitted to the child, although many traits are known to be wanting in the first generation of children and to appear in the second or successive generations. According to the law of Mendel, the traits of the parents are transmitted to the child about as follows: one-half of the elements of one’s physical and mental natures are inherited from his parents, one-fourth from his grandparents, one-eighth from his great-grandparents, and so on. In any given case, however, there might be great variation from this rule of the averages, just as actual men and women vary more or less widely from the average human height of so many feet and inches.

There is no thought here of discussing the intricate problems of eugenics. The purpose of this brief dogmatic sketch is that of attempting to induce parents to believe that the great mass of our American-born children are comparatively sound in their physical and mental inheritances. The pathologists profess to be able to prove that nature is most kind to the new-born child in respect to inheritance of disease. In fact, it is shown that very few diseases are directly transmitted through the blood, and that many once so regarded are now found to be infectious in their natures. There is considerable indication, however, that the children of the diseased—tuberculous parents, for example,—inherit a[Pg 9] weakened power of resistance for such disease. But this matter is somewhat foreign to our present discussion.

Best of all, for our present consideration, is the great mass of evidence sustaining the theory that about ninety-nine per cent of our new-born infants are potentially good in an economic and moral sense. That is to say, this great majority of the young humanity have latent within their natures at the beginning of life the possibilities of development into sound, self-reliant manhood and womanhood.

So, the writer of these lines would gladly lead rural parents to the point of being very courageous and optimistic about their infant children. He would have them see in the latter all the possibilities of good and efficiency that they may care to attempt to bring out by thoughtful and conscientious training. For that matter, it can be shown that many of the leaders of men are constantly springing up out of the ranks of the common masses and from those of humble parentage. Some of these great leaders, it is true, are what may be called accidental geniuses in respect to their native strength and their persistent life purposes. But many others, and perhaps the majority of them, are merely men and women who have been reasonably sound at birth and who have been trained from childhood to maturity in a manner that best served to build up strong, efficient character.

[Pg 10]


The references given at the close of each chapter are meant to direct the reader to specific treatment of the topics named. It is thought that nearly every chapter or book referred to will be found helpful and instructive to such persons as may naturally become interested in this volume. In some instances a line of comment is given to make clearer the contents of the reference.

Must Children have Children’s Diseases? Newton. Ladies’ Home Journal, April, 1910.

Dietetic and Hygienic Gazette. Gazette Publishing Company, New York. $1 per year, monthly.

The Miracle of Life. J. H. Kellogg, M.D. Good Health Publishing Company, Battle Creek, Mich. Read especially pp. 363-388, “How to be Strong.”

Our Duty to Posterity. Editorial. The Independent, February. 1909.

Relation of Science to Man. Professor A. W. Small. American Journal of Sociology, February, 1908.

Character Building. Marian M. George. A. Flanagan Company. Treats the ethical problems of the home.

Through Boyhood to Manhood. Ennis Richmond. Chapter 1, “Usefulness.” Longmans.

Making the Most of Our Children. Mary Wood-Allen, M.D. Chapter IX, “Keeping the Boy on the Farm.” McClurg.

Youth. G. Stanley Hall. Chapter XII, “Moral and Religious Training.” Appleton.

The Contents of a Boy. E. L. Moore. Chapter VI, “Social Interests.” Jennings & Graham, Cincinnati.

Mind in the Making. E. J. Swift. Chapter II, “The Criminal Natures of Boys.” Scribners.

The Young Malefactor. Dr. Thomas Travis. Chapter II, “The Child born Centuries Too Late.” Crowell.

The Family Health. M. Solis-Cohen, M.D. Chapter I, “The Preservation of Health.” Penn Publishing Company, Philadelphia.

The Durable Satisfactions of Life. Dr. Charles W. Eliot. Crowell. Points out ably the higher way.

The Study of Children. Francis Warner, M.D. Chapter IV, “Observ[Pg 11]ing the Child. What to Look at and For.” The Macmillan Company.

What makes a Liberal Education. Editorial. The Independent, July 1, 1909.

Relation of the Physical Nature of the Child to His Mental and Moral Development. George W. Reed. Annual Report National Educational Association, 1909, p. 305.

[Pg 12]



We shall continue to assume that the reader, if a parent, is thinking of his child as being in the position of one whose character requires constant attention in order that it may be built up through the right sort of training and the right sort of practices. Just as certainly as there is a best time in the season to plow corn and also a time not to plow, as there is a time to plow deep and another time to plow shallow, so there is unquestionably a best time to give the child any particular form of training or to withhold it. In general, it may be said that the most effective training in respect to the human young is that which centers most closely around the childish interests and instincts.

What of the human instincts

By observing critically for a few days the conduct of an infant child, one may notice two or three pronounced instincts at work producing helpful results in the little life.

1. There is the instinct to nurse, which is so fundamental in securing the food with which to sustain and build up the body.

[Pg 13]2. There is the accessory instinct of crying, also often necessary as nature’s signal for another intake of the food supply. Associated with these two instincts are a number of reflexes which take care of the important organic processes, such as digestion, assimilation, and excretion. Now, we have practically all there is to the “character” of the human infant. He has, as yet, no instinct for fighting, for sexual love, or for business. And any effort to arouse and make use of the last-named dormant qualities would be futile as well as ridiculous. In respect to a vast majority of the things to be learned, the child is a mere bundle of potentialities, all of which must bide their time for an awakening. In short, wise parents soon learn that the center of life in the infant child is in the stomach, and that if he be fed rightly, kept much in the open air, clothed comfortably, and bathed frequently, the body-building processes will usually go on in a satisfactory manner.

3. Although the little life seems so tiny and the daily round of infantile activities so simple and monotonous, the character-developing processes are already making their subtle beginnings. For example, the first lessons in habit are being inculcated through the comparative rhythm in the infant’s life. It will be found both conducive to good health and helpful to character-development to attend to all the infant’s needs with strict regularity. Let us follow the new-born child around his little cycle and see what hap[Pg 14]pens. First, he is given a hearty meal, which is followed at once by perhaps two hours of profound sleep. Then, there is a gradual waking, the body writhes and wiggles slightly, and then more, and then still more, until a loud cry is set up. Under healthy conditions the crying should go on for a very few minutes, as it helps to send the good blood through every part of the body, purifying and building up the parts and carrying out the effete matter. The function of excretion is not only thus much aided, but the nervous equilibrium is completely restored. The little life has now swung completely round to the beginning point of two hours previously and it is ready to start on another journey with the intake of another hearty meal.

It will be found that the life circle described above continues with slight variations for the first few weeks, the child sleeping probably twenty to twenty-two hours out of twenty-four, if it be in a natural state of health. But slowly the conduct of the infant will become more complex, and that in response to the growths and changes taking place within his body. It will be found that he can take a heartier meal, can stay awake longer, kick harder, wriggle more, and cry louder as the days multiply. In a month or so his eyes will be seen following some brilliant or attractive moving body, while the impulsive movements of the hands will begin to suggest some slight definition of their conduct. Not long thereafter, the baby[Pg 15] smile will break out in a reflex fashion and the hands will likewise grasp objects placed in the little palms. Coördinate with these new activities, nature is at work storing up new nerve structures and cells, especially in the region of the spinal cord and the cranial centers.

4. The child is all the while learning. As yet, there is little for the caretaker to do other than to feed the infant with exceeding care and regularity, and to enjoy the awakening of the new infant activities. In four to six months, the young learner will lead a much more complex life,—sitting alone, holding things in his hands, and looking about the room. But it must be understood that he still hears and sees very few things in a definite way. Then, in the next two or three months he will first creep,—he should in time be induced to do so if possible for the sake of his health,—at length he will stand upright, and finally walk. None of these processes must be hastened, although they may be aided when the inner prompting and strength warrant such conduct.

5. During the second year there will probably break out with sudden and surprising strength the new instinct of anger. It has been latent there all the time, but the low degree of intelligence and of nerve structure has not given it proper support and indulgence. But on an occasion there is perhaps taken from the child some cherished plaything, when[Pg 16] he suddenly flies into a rage, yelling, screaming, kicking, and growing red in the face. This outburst of rage is a most interesting and enjoyable aspect to the parent who rightly understands children, although some ignorantly make it a matter of deep concern, regarding it as significant of a vicious character in the coming boy and man.

The purpose of this present discussion is to illustrate how the human instincts come into their functions at various times during the life of the growing child. And the further purpose is to urge that such thing be watched for and met with just the sort of training necessary for permanent and helpful results.

Now, let the little child fly into a rage two or three times and have his anger appeased through indulgence in the thing he cries for, and he has acquired his first lesson in the management of the parent or nurse. He has learned that if he wants a thing, all he needs to do is to squall or yell and the desired results will be forthcoming. But this childish rage really furnishes the occasion for the beginning of some disciplinary lessons. “Should I give the child everything he cries for, or withhold the desired object until he quits?” asks an anxious parent. Neither rule is necessarily the right one, and yet both, on occasions, may be correct. Suppose, instead of the infant you have a five-year-old boy who cries for a loaded revolver he happens to see in your hand. Would you give it to him to stop his crying, or with[Pg 17]hold it? Suppose again he should cry for the return of his own plaything which some one unjustly snatched from him. Would you return his plaything to stop his crying, or let him cry it out? Now, here is implied the correct answer in dealing with the outburst of anger in the infant. It is all a matter of justice and fairness. If some agency, human or otherwise, snatches his food from his mouth, and the child squalls for its return, indulge the infant at once. If he has been well fed, comfortably clad and bathed, and under every proper consideration should lie still and behave himself, then do not run and take him up because he happens to be trying your patience with his squalling. Hold him to it and let him bawl it out. There is really nothing better coming to him if you are thinking of the development of his character—and your own.

6. So, somewhat later on you will find this same instinct of anger showing itself in the various forms of fighting and quarreling. The parent who understands the true natures of healthy children will not worry for a moment because the children show natural dispositions for contention and combativeness. On the other hand, it will be understood that these very tendencies furnish the occasion of many a lesson in social ethics. How can the child ever learn to be just and fair to his mates or square and considerate in his dealings with adults unless it be through the give-and-take experiences that come from attempt[Pg 18]ing to get more than his share,—and failing much of the time,—and from attempting to over-ride the rights and privileges of others, and having such attempts properly thwarted? Indeed, it may be regarded as a great misfortune to the child if he has to grow up as the only one in a home and is denied the daily companionship of those of his own age from whom he may learn justice and fairness as a result of his attempts to get more than is just and fair for himself.

7. The watchful parents will observe that perhaps some time during the second half year, and with some pronounced repetitions later, there will be clear manifestations of the instinct of fear on the part of the child. Again, there is nothing for deep concern other than to meet this instinct in a general way as has been observed for the others named and to give the proper training. Fear must have been a human necessity during many years of savagery and barbarism. It still has its positive and negative values in the development of character. It serves as a deterrent from dangerous and criminal acts. It is also found to deter the growing infant from doing many a thing which he ought to be learning to do. Fear shows its most interesting aspects in the form of what has been called social sensitiveness; that is, bashfulness, shyness, reticence, and the like.

Parents should by all means watch closely the various childish and youthful tendencies to fear,[Pg 19] allowing those fears which promise to be helpful to remain in the life or to die out slowly through counteracting conduct; and eliminating those other forms which would seem to serve no useful purpose. Examples of the latter sort would be the fear of ferocious animals and of murderers. Such mortal enemies are so uncommon in this civilized land that fear of them will probably be of no service to life. On the other hand, it may stunt and deter the development of courage. Especially do such fears tend to induce the habit of unnecessary concern and deep worry, thus destroying the peace and happiness and cutting off the length of years of many members of our society.

8. There is no questioning the value of social sensitiveness in respect to the development of character in the young. Some degree of bashfulness and embarrassment in dealing with people, especially those regarded by him as of superior worth, may be considered an actual asset in the life of the growing boy. This bashfulness will give him a rich inner experience of doubts and fears, and of hopes and triumphs. Slowly, under proper guidance and direction, the sensitiveness wears away through repeated experience of a contrary sort, and such qualities as create a self-reliance take its place.

On the other hand, it is doubtless a misfortune, especially for the boy, to become blasé—indifferent and unembarrassed in the presence of people of all[Pg 20] ranks and conditions—while he is yet a mere lad. Under our present organization of society, the boy who would win the life race must have much experience of trial and error, of failure and success, and of tribulation and triumph; and all that for the sake of a self-reliant character. Now, the boy who has lost all sense of embarrassment in the presence of others is likely to be denied the stirring inner experiences just named, and to settle down in an indifferent, self-satisfied attitude toward the big problems of human conduct. It may be counted, therefore, as an indication of much promise and advantage that the country youth and the country maiden continue to be comparatively “green” and bashful during the period of their adolescence.

9. The instinct of sexual love will manifest itself at the proper time and age. Before so doing, certain organic changes and inner nerve developments must take place. Parents may learn some lessons from observation of this instinct that will apply to practically all the others. For example, there should be no attempt to hurry the manifestation and the functioning of the instinct, nor should the training necessary for its development and refinement be denied or withheld. Of all the many inner awakenings that come to the developing human being, there is probably none that quite matches the surging energy of sexual love in healthy young manhood and womanhood. And to an extraordinary degree,[Pg 21] opportunities for instruction and development of the character become present at this time.

First of all, parents need to be reminded of the naturalness and wholesomeness of the sex instincts in adolescent boys and girls. They must be urged to provide carefully for its natural growth through the proper commingling of the sexes in a social way, and yet there must be preserved in the young lives just enough strangeness and mystery about the sex matters as to indulge the poetic and the romantic aspects of the unfolding natures. It need not, therefore, be a matter of worry and unusual concern to parents if their fifteen-year-old son and a neighbor’s thirteen-year-old daughter show pronounced tendencies to be “crazy in love” with each other. However, this situation furnishes most fitting opportunities for teaching the boy courtly manners, gallantry, consideration for women of all ages; and that through and by means of his own personal experience. In fact, this stirring period of sex-love opens up in the mind of the boy reflections that tend to run out into every possible avenue of his future life.

Likewise, the girl. That same little girl who shortly ago hated boys and declared she would never have anything to do with them is now manifesting much interest in the youth of her acquaintance. This thing cannot be laughed to scorn, or scolded away, or whipped out of the life of either boy or girl. Its roots are in the sex organs as well as in the heart.[Pg 22] This first love period furnishes the rarest opportunities for teaching the girl proper lessons in respect to her comeliness, her purity of thought, and the sweetness of her own personal character. If during this time she be withheld entirely from wholesome association with boys and young men, there is a probability that she may become a drone or a mope, and especially that she may lose valuable training in the acquisition of those winsome ways so helpful to young women in the matter of their obtaining suitable life companions.

Perhaps less need be said in respect to giving the growing son those forms of social training which make it possible for him to win to his side an attractive helpmate. But beyond the question of a doubt there can and should be much done by way of training the daughter in this respect. In addition to her good health, her moral self-reliance, and those other desirable qualities illustrated in a preceding paragraph, the young woman who is thoroughly prepared for meeting successfully the issues of life has had careful training in all the practices that refine and beautify her character.

This duty of rural parents to the growing daughter is no less imperative than in the case of city parents. It may be considered as an excellent way of planning for the future happiness and well-being, not merely for one, but doubtless for an entire family, if the growing girl be indulged and directed reasonably in[Pg 23] social matters during this period of greatest strength of her natural sex instinct. This thing cannot be safely put off a few years with the thought that the family will move to town and then the girl may have her proper opportunities of training. After such procrastination and neglect, it becomes too late ever to correct the many faults of omission.

10. There develops somewhat late in the lives of young men and young women what might be called the “homing” instinct, which amounts to nothing other than a deep and pronounced prompting from within to set definitely about the matter of getting into a home of one’s own and providing for and building it up. This is different from the mere sex instinct named above, although perhaps an outgrowth of it. It must be noted in passing that this homing instinct, when at its strongest, furnishes the proper occasion for instruction in respect to the home and the home-building affairs. Happy indeed is the young man or the young woman who, after a period of such instruction, may have the opportunity of settling down in a suitable dwelling place and there beginning the establishment of the ideal family life.

11. Unquestionably there dawns in the life of normal young men—and perhaps to a milder degree in respect to young women—a pronounced instinct of a business and economic sort. This inner prompting is doubtless associated with the two last named. It may be observed by any person who knows how[Pg 24] to study the lives of children and young people that some particular youth who a few months ago was a spendthrift, indifferent of his future needs and welfare, is now heard to declare emphatically again and again that he must get into business, must save and invest his means and provide for his future needs. So, there is not a little evidence in effect that we have here another inner development of the nerve mechanism. And the time is most fit and opportune for the parents to exhaust every reasonable effort to discover what the youth is best suited for as a life practice and to guide him on toward the realization of that purpose. Much more will be said in another chapter in respect to the choice of a vocation.


Rural parents who develop an intensive interest in the child-training problems will find it most profitable to read somewhat extensively in the texts that are not too direct but that give a careful treatment of the fundamental principles of child psychology. King’s and O’Shea’s books listed below are of this special character. For a fuller list, see Chapter VI.

The Child: A Study in the Evolution of Man. A. F. Chamberlain. Chapter IV, “The Period of Childhood.” Scribner. A sound and somewhat scholarly treatment.

Boy Wanted. Nixon Waterman. Chapter I, “The Awakening”; Chapter II, “Am I a Genius?” Forbes & Co., Chicago.

Education of the Central Nervous System. Reuben P. Halleck. Chapter VII, “Special Sensory Training.” American Book Company.

The Moral Life. Arthur E. Davies. Chapter V, “Motive: The Beginnings of Morality.” Review Publishing Company, Baltimore.

Psychology. J. R. Angell. Chapter XVI, “The Important Human Instincts.” Holt.

[Pg 25]

Essentials of Psychology. W. B. Pillsbury. Chapter X, “Instinct.” Macmillan. Rural parents will find this entire text a non-technical and fundamental help.

Development and Education. M. V. O’Shea. Chapter XII, “The Critical Period.” Houghton, Mifflin Company.

Psychology of Child Development. Irving King. Chapter on “Instinct.” University of Chicago Press.

Your Boy: His Nature and Nurture. George A. Dickinson, M.D. Chapter II, “Elements of Character.” Hodder & Stoughton, New York.

An Introduction to Child Study. W. B. Drummond. Chapter XII, “The Instincts of Children” ; Chapter XIII, “Instincts and Habit.” Longmans. The book is worthy an entire reading.

A Study of Child Nature. Elizabeth Harrison. Chapter I, “The Instinct of Activity.” Chicago Kindergarten College.

Observing Childhood. A. S. Draper. Annals American Academy, March, 1909.

Are we spoiling our Boys who have the Best Chances in Life? Henry van Dyke. Scribner’s Magazine. October, 1909.

How to civilize the Young Savage. Dr. G. Stanley Hall. Mind and Body, June, 1911.

[Pg 26]



That the farm home is an ideal place in which to build up the lives of growing boys and girls has become almost a trite saying. But that rural parents are yet failing to realize the child-nurturing possibilities of such a place may be exemplified in thousands of instances. When we point to the farm home as being the best possible place for rearing children, we mean that it contains all the crude materials for such work, and that there must be in charge of that work some one who is conscious of the many aspects of the problem. So we hope to show the fathers and mothers of the farm community, not what they might do if they were differently situated, but as specifically as possible what there is in the present rural home situation that can be made directly available in the construction of the lives of their children.

What agencies build up character?

First of all, we must ask, What are the ordinary forces which need to be brought into service in the[Pg 27] development of children? At the head of the list, we should name play, as furnishing a great variety of instructive activities; then, work and industry; after that, the recreation that comes properly after the performance of work. So, we have with all their implied meanings the three great child-developing agencies: play, work, recreation. Now the question naturally presents itself, Can the ordinary farm life be made to furnish in right amount and proportion these three essential elements of character development?

1. Play.—The necessity of indulging and training properly the play instinct of the child is becoming so fully appreciated of late that many of the state legislatures, and even the national Congress, have seen fit to make it a matter of deep concern. In order that all children may have full exercise of the divine, inherent right to play and to learn through play, many so-called child labor laws have been passed. These enactments have prescribed conditions under which children will be permitted to work at gainful occupations, and in the majority of cases they have strictly forbidden such child labor below the ages of fourteen to sixteen.

But the foregoing efforts in behalf of the young have been of a somewhat negative sort, merely guaranteeing the child the right to play. On the positive side, much is also being done. The scientific students of child life have been pointing to the great[Pg 28] benefits of play and to the present need for larger means and fuller opportunities for play on the part of the masses of children. As an outcome of all this research and public agitation, there is now in progress a general movement which looks to the placing at the disposal of children everywhere the equipment and apparatus necessary for building up the character by means of play experience. The large cities are expending millions of dollars on municipal playgrounds, and the towns and rural communities are catching the spirit also.

It has been shown beyond a question that adult life can be prepared for and enriched in many ways by means of scientifically provided play during childhood. Two or three results are especially sought through the playground training: (1) better physical health and increased power to resist disease; (2) enlarged opportunities for the outlet of the spontaneous activities through the use of the hands and other parts of the body; (3) the provision of a powerful deterrent of evil thought and deed and of juvenile crime; (4) the manifold opportunities for learning how to get along with one’s fellows and to treat them in fairness and justice.

Plate III.

Fig. 3.—This beautiful Kansas home, with its large orchard and many shade trees adjoining, was constructed “away out on the barren plains where no tree will grow.” In this place an excellent family of nine children grew up.

It has already been urged that sound health constitutes one of the foundation stones of good character. Play is especially conducive to sound health. Some may think that work without much if any play will bring about the same results in the child [Pg 29]life, but such proves not to be the case. The monotony and drudgery of enforced labor have been crushing the lives of children everywhere, especially until the wise legislation of very recent years prevented such thing. Strange to say, the same amount of exertion in spontaneous play may build up and strengthen the physical and mental life of the child. What is the secret of the striking difference in the result? Spontaneity! is the answer. The child goes at his play with a joy and an eagerness which are entirely absent from work—a sufficient guarantee that his nature is being fed upon the very stuff which his soul craves. It is true that children will play in a bare room containing nothing more than a pile of trash, but such a situation is woefully lacking on the side of instruction. Very little will be learned from a year of such ill-provided play.

So, there is every necessary reason for urging that the farm home provide not only the time and the occasion for the play life of the children, but that the means and proper materials also be looked after. At a certain rural home in the state of Michigan, where two boys and one girl were growing up, were found the following nearly ideal arrangements for the play life: a small clump of trees, which afforded opportunities for climbing and ample shade during the warm weather; a swing hung between two of the trees; a pole serving as a horizontal bar between[Pg 30] two others; and a ladder leading to a rude playhouse constructed between the forks of a branching maple tree. Thereabout were seen also a boy’s wagon, two home-made sleds and other materials of this same general class, not to mention a fairly well-kept lawn, where the children could romp.

Now the cost of all the foregoing materials would be trifling in a money sense and not very expensive in point of preparation and work, while they would pay for themselves a hundred-fold in their results for character-development. If necessary, it could even be shown how just such provision for the play of the boys and girls on the farm will in time add to the actual cash value of the place and to the money-earning power of the boys and girls whose lives are being served. It seems altogether fitting to remind rural parents of their duty in respect to their children even though the mortgage may not yet have been lifted, and even though some of the live stock may have to suffer a little, and some of the farm crops deteriorate slightly. Let there be provided, first of all, some adequate materials for the indulgence of the play instinct of the child.

2. Work.—This term implies a wide meaning, and deserves a lengthy discussion. In a chapter to follow under the title “How Much Work for the Country Boy,” we shall give due attention to it. The purpose here is to advise the parent to make a study of the situation and to make provision for the[Pg 31] amount and kind of work and industry necessary for the proper culture of the growing child.

First of all, there must be appreciated the sharp distinction between work and play. The latter is spontaneous, allowing the child to follow his caprice of mind. He may take up one play activity and drop it at any moment that another appeals to him more strongly. But with work, the situation is different. The purpose is outside of and not within the performance, as in the case of play. The work looks toward some end necessary of achievement and carries with it the elements of sacrifice, of giving out of one’s life something that is his very own in order that some other thing may be acquired. In the case of work the normal child probably at first finds almost any assigned task irksome. He feels that he is being more or less unfairly or unnecessarily driven to it and that when he grows to be a man, he will have a lot of money and hire somebody else to do the work.

All natural, healthy-minded boys are at first somewhat stubborn and rebellious in regard to work. No matter how good their parents may be, if merely turned loose in the world without direction and the spur of authority, they will almost invariably avoid manual labor. So it might as well be put down at once as a rule that every boy who is to become a real worker and an industrious character must be set definitely at his tasks while a mere child and held strictly to their performance. After much persistent[Pg 32] urging, the young worker begins to forget the thought of being driven to his duty and to acquire instead a habit of industry. By slow degrees he develops within a sense of obligation in relation to work, also a feeling of responsibility for tasks done or left undone. Finally, after years of this sort of experience, the young industrialist reaches a point in his life when he can throw himself enthusiastically into some sort of well chosen occupation. And then and there emerges from his inner consciousness the exceeding great joy known to so many of the industrious men and women whose worthy life-long devotion to work is constantly reconstructing this good world in which we live.

It will be understood, of course, that the term work as here used includes the school training. The ordinary child regards the appointed duties of lesson getting in the nature of work and feels the same pressure of insistence and compulsion in relation to them. Unquestionably, the ordinary school course goes part way toward furnishing discipline in industry. The course of the newer schools about to be instituted throughout the country will reach still farther in this direction. It is very encouraging indeed to observe that the public school curriculum is destined to include, not only the study of books and the recitation of lessons learned from books, but also the many forms of manual labor and industry applicable to the character of the growing child. But until the[Pg 33] public school authorities have provided such an ideal course of training, parents must see to it that the class-room duties be thoroughly supplemented with carefully assigned home tasks of the industrial training sort. In a later chapter specific attention will be given the question of the schooling of the country boy and the country girl.

3. Recreation.—What a vast amount of misunderstanding and misuse there is of this term! Observe, if you will, the real meaning of the term or of the kindred word, to re-create. It implies in this use that the body has been depleted, worn out, or fatigued by work and that there is to be a rebuilding of the same. But it is amusing—or would be if it were not so pathetic—to see how city parents often bestir themselves in an effort to provide recreation for their idle boys. Many of these boys who are seen loafing about the home town during practically the entire summer vacation period are given an outing in order that they may thus be furnished “recreation”—from indolence.

But farm parents are inclined to err on the other side. That is, they tend to over-work their boys and not to give them enough outings to furnish proper recreation and renewed zeal for the work required of them. Hence, the need of carefully considering the matter of the outings for the farm boy and girl. It can most probably be shown, for example, that the boy who works on the farm five and a half days of[Pg 34] the week and who is given the other half day for rest and recreation—that he does more work in the five and one-half days and does it better than he would do in six full days without the half-holiday. The question here is that of a balanced schedule. How long should the boy be held to his task before being allowed a holiday or recreation period?

Just how can these half-holidays, outings, and the like, be worked into the farm boy’s program so as to make them contributive to the up-building of his character? What of this sort can be done to cause him to return to his assigned tasks with greater zeal and enthusiasm? How can it be provided that the boy may look forward to these outings with a thrill of joy during the long days he has to spend behind the plow or in the harvest field? Finally, how can these recreation periods, large and small, be so associated with his work-a-day tasks that he may come to regard farm life as a wholesome type of vocation—one that he may follow with pleasure and profit for himself, and one in which he may succeed so well as to make his achievements constitute a living commendation of such a calling to others? In a later discussion there will be shown many methods whereby the recreation experience of the farm boys and girls may be properly looked after.

Few persons seem to appreciate the value of solitude as a means of recreating and building up the inner life. Probably one of the greatest agencies in[Pg 35] the development of many a powerful personality is the fact that its possessor was compelled by force of circumstances while young to spend much time in the company of his or her own thoughts. It is impossible to think intelligently while one is doing any body-straining work; for example, wood sawing or hay pitching. But there are many forms of occupation for boys and girls on the farm which permit of comparative rest of the body. So the foundations of many a worthy career have been laid in the silent reflections of the boy spending the day alone in the woods or on the prairies with his cattle and dog and pony, or sitting on the seat of the riding plow.

Likewise, the farmer’s daughter, during the performance of many simple, non-fatiguing tasks, reflects perforce upon the larger meanings of life and makes out in mind many plans for the time when she hopes to undertake the mastery of various trying and interesting problems. Lack of this enforced solitude and its attendant reflections—lack of the discovery of the joy of being at regular intervals alone with the great soul of Nature and with one’s inner consciousness—doubtless contributes in some measure to the undoing of city boys and girls. The constant turmoil of the street, the excitement of the ever changing scenes and situations, give an over-indulgence to the senses, ripen the judgments too early, and rob the character of those soberer habits which later enable one to find good in the[Pg 36] common situations and the common people of the world.

It is, therefore, recommended that farm parents provide for a part of the sterner duties of the boys and girls such tasks as will allow for comparative rest of the body while the mind may tarry undisturbed with the reflections of the inner life.

Moving to town for the children

The practice of the well-to-do farmer who moves to town to “educate his children” is an old story and is fraught with many a hidden tragedy, to say nothing of the impoverishment of the land and of the social order left behind. Why cannot the intelligent farmer remain on the home place and join a movement having for its purpose that of making the neighborhood a more desirable place of human habitation?

One of the dullest places in the world is the country town which has been filled up with retired farmers. These are usually men who came into the place for the purpose of getting all the possible advantages at the lowest possible cost. In the typical case the new city dweller of this class secures a very good residence, and that often, if possible, just outside the city limits, in order to avoid local taxes. He takes little or no interest in the town’s municipal affairs and votes against nearly all proposed improvements. He keeps his own cow, horse, chickens, and garden,[Pg 37] and brings extra supplies in from the farm. Gradually he takes on a few of the city ways. That is, he uses less home produce and does some buying at the stores. But for want of stimulating employment he gradually grows stouter and mentally more stupid, sleeping away many of the hours of the day in his chair—an indication that he is dying at the top and that he is soon to be cut down. Really, the retired farmer is a nuisance to the town and the town is a bore to him.

But what of the children whom he brought in to “educate”? They learn rapidly, soon taking on the city manners. The natural restraints from evil conduct, which the farm home furnished, are now wanting. The blare and bluster of the town both excite and delight them, while the parents have positively no rules or standards by which to govern and direct their young in the new situation. All the boys and girls need to do in order to gain parental consent for going out at night is to declare that “everybody is going” or that they are “expected” to be there, and the thing is settled. Thus the young ruralists newly come to town go dancing and prancing off into a veritable world of sweet dreams and delights—spoiled forever for any service that they might have rendered in building up the country community—and finally destined to become mere cogs in the ever grinding wheel of some city.

[Pg 38]

A back-to-the-country club

Nearly every town and city of the United States has had a so-called Commercial Club. This has been in reality a boosters’ club bent first of all on bringing big business to the place and thus opening the way for a bigger population. Anything for the sake of more people has been the watchword. Now, I would reverse this order of things. Nearly every one of these towns and cities needs a club or committee that might have for its purposes: (1) to show the would-be retired farmer how to shift the burdens from his wife as housekeeper, how to provide better social and intellectual advantages for his children and yet stay on the farm; (2) to find means and methods whereby to plant in the rural community those persons of the city population who are not making a fair living in their present positions, seeking first of course to choose those who are capable of transplanting and then preparing them with care for the change.

I am satisfied that this thing can be successfully thought out,—that is, how the worthy poor city family may be removed to the country and there through hard work gradually acquire enough land whereon to earn a fair living at least. This end will never be accomplished by merely driving out the poor families, but rather by means of scientific and sympathetic practice of re-establishing them. Well-[Pg 39]conducted research shows that these poor people are nearly all constituted of good, sound, human stock. So, if transported under the conditions named, there may be expected to come forth in the second generation a splendid crop of rural boys and girls.


Report of the Commission on Country Life. Introduction by Theodore Roosevelt. Sturgis-Walton Company, New York. A brief but epoch-making book. The student of rural problems will find it a splendid outline guide.

Cutting Loose from the City. E. G. Hutchins. Country Life, Jan. 1, 1911.

Back to the Farm. J. Smith. Collier’s, Feb. 25, 1911.

Value of a Country Education to Every Boy. Craftsman, January, 1911.

Why Back to the Farm? Editorial. Craftsman, February, 1911.

The Country-Life Movement. L. H. Bailey. The Macmillan Co. Contains a contrast of the back-to-the-land movement and the country-life movement.

Drift to the City in Relation to the Rural Problem. J. M. Gillette. American Journal of Sociology, March, 1911.

The New Country Boy. Independent, June 22, 1911.

Overworked Children on the Farm and in the School. Dr. Woods Hutchinson. Annals American Academy, March, 1909.

Why One Hundred Boys ran away from Home. L. E. Jones. Ladies’ Home Journal, April, 1910.

The Country Girl who is coming to the City. Batchelor. Delineator, May, 1909.

Play and Playground Literature. For most helpful and inexpensive literature on this subject address: The Playground Association of America, 1 Madison Ave., New York City.

Conservation in the Rural Districts. James W. Robertson, D.Sc. The Association Press, New York.

Education for Country life. Willet M. Hays. Free Bulletin, U.S. De[Pg 40]partment of Agriculture. Treats ably consolidation and rural agricultural high schools.

Child Problems. George B. Mangold. Ph.D. Book II, Chapters I-II, “Play and the Playground”; Book III, Chapters I-V, “Child Labor Problems.” The last reference contains accurate information as to child-labor legislation up to date of publication.

Influence of Heredity and Environment upon Race Improvements. Kelsey. Annals American Academy, July, 1909.

Burning up the Boys. Editorial. North American, September, 1910.

[Pg 41]



Greater attention needs to be given to the conservation of the farmer’s wife. Although there are many other justifications for giving more thought to the care and the comfort of the country mother, the single fact of her very close relation to the children growing up in the home, and of her peculiar responsibilities as center of life there, warrant us in devoting a chapter to her interests. Recently, while passing upon a country highway, the author met a funeral procession. A little inquiry revealed a pathetic situation, one that has been repeated thousands of times throughout the length and breadth of this fair country. The deceased was the wife of a young farmer, both of them under thirty-five years of age, hard working and ambitious for success, but thoughtless of their own health and comfort. Their farm was somewhat new and unimproved, there were hundreds of things to do other than the routine affairs of home keeping and crop raising. Worst of all, there was a mortgage to be lifted. After all reasonable improvements were made and the mortgage paid off, then, according to their plans, they were[Pg 42] going to take matters easy. But the delicate cord of life suddenly broke in the case of the wife, and left the young husband as overseer of the farm and home and sole caretaker of three little children.

How can parents hope to produce a better crop of boys and girls in the farm communities so long as the typical farm wife is crushed into the earth with the over-weight of the burdens placed upon her? A few minutes’ enumeration in this same rural neighborhood brought out the startling fact that in fully half of the homes a scene similar to the one just described had been enacted during the last score of years. That is to say, during the twenty years, fully one-half of the farm mothers living in that particular neighborhood had died before their time from one cause or another. In most instances the death occurred during what we usually speak of as the prime years of life, and at a time when the rose bloom should naturally be fresh upon the cheek. Fortunately, this serious condition, still present in some communities, is being gradually improved by the improved methods.

Poor conditions of women

The report of the Country Life Commission makes the following suggestions:—

“The relief to farm women must come through a general elevation of country living. The women must have more help. In particular these matters may be mentioned: Development of a coöperative[Pg 43] spirit in the home, simplification of the diet in many cases, the building of convenient and sanitary houses, providing running water in the house and also more mechanical help, good and convenient gardens, a less exclusive ideal of money getting on the part of the farmer, providing better means of communication, as telephones, roads, and reading circles, and developing of women’s organizations. These and other agencies should relieve the woman of many of her manual burdens on the one hand and interest her in outside activities on the other. The farm woman should have sufficient free time and strength so that she may serve the community by participating in its vital affairs.”

Plate IV.

Fig. 4.—A day nursery at the Country Social Center. It may be otherwise called “an institution designed to lengthen the lives of tired country mothers.”

In discussing this same matter, Henry Wallace, a member of the Commission, says in his paper, Wallaces’ Farmer:—

“They have been saying that the mother is the hardest worked member of the family, which is often and we believe generally true. They have been saying that in the anxiety of the farmer to get more land, he not only works himself too hard, but his wife too hard, and the boys and girls so hard that the boys get disgusted and leave the farm, and the girls marry town fellows and go to town.

“Now the farmer’s wife is really the most important and essential person on the farm. As such she needs the most care and consideration. You are careful, very careful, not to over-work your horses.[Pg 44] How much more careful you should be not to over-work the mother of your children. You rein back the free member of the team. You take special care of the brood mare, and the cow that gives three hundred pounds of butter. Have you always kept the freest of all workers, your wife, from doing too much? How about this?”

For the sake of the children

But this chapter, as well as the entire book, is being prepared in the interest of boys and girls. So we shall attempt to show a number of specific conditions that may be sought as tending to conserve the strength and the life of the rural mother, with a view to her continuing to be in every best sense of the word a caretaker and conserver of the lives of her own children.

1. Surplus nerve energy.—However it may be achieved, the thing to work for in this connection is a surplusage of nerve energy. If the child training is to go on in a satisfactory manner, the mother especially, and if possible both parents, must have stated times and occasions for looking after such training and for inculcating a series of important fundamental lessons. The first and best test of this child-rearing situation may be made at evening. If, after the work of the ordinary day, the mother is still fresh enough to take a real interest in the children’s affairs, to read to them briefly and perhaps[Pg 45] tell them a story or two, or to read for further preparations of her work with them,—then it may be said that her life energies are being conserved in a fairly satisfactory manner. The children will most certainly reap the benefits. But if the close of the ordinary day’s work finds the farm mother suffering from physical and nervous exhaustion, cross and impatient with the other members of the family, depressed in spirit and gloomy as to the future, these are signs which should give alarm to the head of the household and arouse him to the point of looking into such distressful conditions, and setting them right.

2. A rest period.—How would it do to plan for the mother a daily period of rest and relaxation? Would not such a program furnish something of a guarantee of length of life in her own case and of peace and contentment in the home, and of improved well-being in respect to the children? How shall we state this question? Must the very lives of the rural mother and her children be run through the mill of over-work as a grist for the improvement and up-building of the farm animals and the farm crops? Or should all of these material things be valued only in proportion as they contribute to the happiness and contentment and the long life of the members of the family? Too many farmers seem to say, as expressed by their conduct: “I must lift that mortgage this year! I must market so many bushels of corn and[Pg 46] so many head of live stock! So here goes my wife, and here go my children into the hopper! Perhaps they will have to give up their lives. At any cost I must make this thing pay!”

Then, how would it be to set apart an hour or more each day, regularly, for the rest and relaxation of the mother, and call it “Mother’s hour”? During that time let it be the policy of the entire family to require no work, no assistance, no favors of her, unless it be in case of illness. During such a time of recuperation, the delicate organism of the ordinary woman would tend to regain its poise. The nerve energy would be more or less restored, while she would tend to view the better things of life more nearly from their right angle. Best of all, she would regather during the hour not a little strength to be used later in the caretaking of her children. Try it for a week.

3. The home conveniences.—This is not the place for a detailed discussion of what might or ought to be put into the house for the sake of the convenience of the home-maker. But if such materials be thoughtfully arranged, they may be made most effective, even though they be small and inexpensive. A little inquiry among the ordinary homes will show what is meant here, by either the presence or the lack of the things indicated. It is not so much a question of expense as it is one of thoughtful provision. The guiding principle of the home convenience is that of[Pg 47] saving and conserving the strength of the housekeeper.

There is especially one day in the week which might be appropriately called the “mother-killing day.” That is the occasion of her doing the washing and ironing for the family. Not infrequently two or three days thereafter are required for the restoration of her normal strength and health. Now, it is clearly the specific duty of the farmer to take hold of just such matters as this and attempt seriously to put them right. Doing the washing for four or five, and that with the use of the wash tub, is a man’s work so far as required muscular energy is concerned, and very few women are able to do it regularly and live out their allotted lives. Therefore, let the conscientious farmer see to it first of all that some kind of machinery be installed for lightening such wife-killing tasks as that just named. Let him provide such household helps and conveniences first, and for the sake of the house mother and her children. And then, if there be other means available, let him provide the man-saving machinery about the barn and the fields. In the chapter on “Constructing a Country Dwelling,” fuller attention will be given to these matters.

4. The mother’s outings.—The farmer who is seriously interested in providing for the care and comfort of his family, and for the instruction and intelligent direction of his children, will see to it that his[Pg 48] life companion be allowed her share of outings. This matter must be just as much on his mind as that of marketing the produce. The usual habit of the farmer’s wife is to give up willingly her rights and opportunities of this sort. But she cannot well continue to be spiritually strong and mentally well disposed toward the world unless she be permitted to get out among her friends and acquaintances at frequent intervals.

So, arrange carefully a series of outings for the country mother. The beginning of such a program is to provide that there be available for her use and at her command a horse and carriage. This equipment need not be of the finest quality, and it may be used for other purposes, but when her needs appear, it should be given up to her purposes. At least one afternoon a week she should go away from the place and be free as much as possible temporarily from the cares of the household while she finds congenial company among some of the neighboring women, or at the library or elsewhere.

5. The home help.—The unending problem of the home life throughout much of the civilized world is that of obtaining adequate assistance in the performance of the household work. Much of the time such assistance from outside sources is practically unavailable. And yet something must be done to meet the situation. If there be young girls growing up in the home, the solution of the problem may,[Pg 49] and should, be met by means of requiring the daughters to assist with the home duties. But in case there be no daughters it is seriously recommended that either the father or the boys do certain parts of the heavier housework.

It is not necessarily beneath the dignity of the best and most brilliant man of this country for him to get down on his knees in his own home and help perform the menial work there which threatens to break the health of his life companion. If there be growing sons in the family, there is every justification for training them to assist in the housework in a case where such assistance is needed to shield the health and strength of the mother. It prepares for better manhood and for more sympathetic protection of his own wife to be, if the boy be required to do such things and thus to become intimately acquainted with what it means to perform the many burdensome tasks that tend to wear away the lives of so many good women.

6. The children shield the mother.—There will perhaps be no better occasion than this to remind parents of the necessity of carefully training the growing children to perform such deeds as will shield the mother in the home, and show a sympathetic interest in her welfare. These matters will not naturally be acquired by children. The country to-day is full of grown men whose mothers and wives have worked themselves to death; and yet these men did not detect the seriousness of the situation until it[Pg 50] was too late. There are many men of this same general class who are willing and even anxious to protect the women of the home from the crush of over-work, but who know not how to do it. Such faults as we have just named might easily have been avoided had these men, during very early boyhood, been brought into an intimate acquaintance with the burdensome tasks of the household. Especially should they have been drilled time after time in the performance of deeds of love and sympathy in respect to their mother. It may seem a little thing for a younger child to rush to the table, call for and partake of the best the table provides and, inattentive to the wants of any other members of the family, hurry off to his play full fed and happy. And yet this very thing may be indicative of a serious lack of attention to the rights and requirements of others, such as may be carried over into his future home life and there amount to serious abuse. Again, it must be insisted that deeds of sympathy and altruism are acquired through the actual and continued practice of the performance of such deeds.

7. Planning for the children.—Among the other splendid results of the conservation of the nerve energy and the vital interests of the house mother may be mentioned that of her ability to plan thoughtfully for the instruction of the boys and girls. It is not an easy task to select appropriate stories and readings for the young. It is neither an easy nor[Pg 51] a trifling matter for the parent to be able to read suitable stories to them and to interpret helpfully such stories. It is not a trifling matter for the parents to converse together an hour at evening and there plan as to the future home instruction of their young. When should this be introduced into the boy’s life and when that into the girl’s life? What is a fair allowance for the boy for what he does and for his spending money for the Fourth of July, Christmas, and the like? What is a fair allowance for the girl with which to purchase her clothes and for her pin money? When should each of them be told this and that about the secrets of life, and where may helpful literature thereon be obtained? Just when and how much should the boy and girl be allowed to go among the young people of the community? When we consider the far-reaching results which their solution may mean for the developing young lives, these and many other such questions become exceedingly important.

8. A common conspiracy.—In many a farm home to-day there is a secret compact which goes far to shape the destiny of a great number of lives. Go if you will to the farm home where the life of the mother is being gradually crushed out by the over-work and the lack of sympathetic protection on the part of the husband, and you will almost invariably find a secret understanding between the mother and the growing children in reference to the future careers[Pg 52] of the latter. It is implied by these words put into the mouth of the mother: “Your father is too ambitious about the work and in his desire for accumulating wealth about the farm. He is over-working me, is thoughtless of me, and indifferent to your present needs and your future welfare. Work on as you must, driven by him, but do as little as you can and grow up to manhood and womanhood. Study your books, get through with your schooling, and in time find something easier for your own life work. Perhaps we can persuade him to give it up after a while and move to town, where you can go out more, dress better, and get more enjoyment out of life.” Thus, the children grow up to mistrust and dislike their father, and to despise the vocation in which he is engaged. Such a state of affairs will precipitate their flight from the home nest. This will take place at the earliest possible moment and will often be in the nature of a leap into the dark, anything to get away from the drudgery of the farm.

Mark you this situation well, you farm fathers, and attack it in all possible haste with the best available relief. A happy, contented, well-protected farm mother almost certainly means the same sort of farm children, while the converse situations will also run in the same unvarying parallel. Do not satiate your desire for more hogs and more land with the sacrifice of the peace and happiness and the very life-blood of your wife and children!

[Pg 53]


The Nervous Life. G. E. Partridge, Ph.D. Sturgis-Walton Company, New York. This book is especially recommended as an aid to the relief of the tired farm mother.

Parenthood and Race Culture. Charles W. Saleeby, M.D. Chapter IX, “The Supremacy of Motherhood.” Moffat, Yard & Co., New York. This is a book of great value for students of race improvement.

From Kitchen to Garret. Virginia Van de Water. Chapter I, “A Heart-to-Heart Talk with the House Wife.” Sturgis-Walton Company. Wholesome advice concerning the conservation of the mother’s strength.

Proceedings of Child Conference for Research and Welfare, 1910. L. Pearl Boggs, Ph.D. Page 5, “Home Education.” G. E. Stechart & Co., New York.

The Efficient Life. Dr. L. H. Gulick. Chapter XVIII, “Growth in Rest.” This entire volume is highly recommended as being suitable for over-worked mothers.

What the Farmer can do to Lighten his Wife’s Work. T. Blake. Ladies’ Home Journal, Feb. 15, 1911.

The Higher Tide of Physical Conscience. Dr. L. H. Gulick. World’s Work, June, 1908.

Education for Motherhood. Charles W. Saleeby. Good Housekeeping, April, 1910.

The Profession of Motherhood. Dr. Lyman Abbott. Outlook, April 10, 1909.

Power Through Repose. Annie Payson Call. Chapter XII, “Training for Rest.” Little, Brown & Co.

Wallaces’ Farmer, Des Moines, Ia., is especially to be commended for its editorial championship of The Farm Mother.

The Freedom of Life. Annie Payson Call. Chapter IV, “Hurry, Worry, and Irritability.” Little, Brown & Co.

Ideas of a Plain Country Mother. Ladies’ Home Journal, May 1, 1911.

American Motherhood. Coopertown, New York Monthly, $1. This magazine publishes many short articles bearing on the subject of this chapter.

How to conduct Mothers’ Clubs. (Pamphlet No. 302, 8 cents.) American Motherhood. Coopertown, New York.

[Pg 54]



Much has been written in books, and more has been spoken from platform and pulpit, relative to the patriotism of the American people. In addition to all this the public schools of city and country have been consciously instructing the children with a view to laying a permanent foundation in their lives for love of the native land and for defense of the national ideals. But it seems to me that the best word on the subject of patriotic instruction has never as yet been given wide publicity. So long as a boy has to grow up in a home where there are meanness and turmoil and strife and hatred and degradation, one may point a thousand times with pride to our great nation, display again and again before his eyes the proud banner of freedom, sing with him numberless times the patriotic songs eulogistic of the fatherland and its national heroes,—under such circumstances a boy can never be expected to develop into anything other than a superficial patriot. But give him a good home, simple and unadorned though it may be, where love reigns, where his childish needs are thoughtfully ministered unto, where[Pg 55]into he may go at nightfall after a hard day’s work and find rest and peace and comfort; a home whereinto he may take his childish cares and perplexities and place them before the affectionate consideration of his parents and perhaps his elder brothers and sisters; a place where he is carefully taught the rudiments of filial respect and a wholesome regard for work and industry,—bring up the boy in the midst of these plain, sympathetic situations, and you have a real patriot. Although he may be reminded only occasionally of the meaning of the national flag, and although he may read with no unusual interest about the blood that was spilled on the national field of battle, a life so reared would mean that the love of home has become rooted in the heart of the young patriot, and that he would rise up if need be and give his life in defense of that home. In such a case, only a small stretch of the imagination would make it possible for the youth to regard the nation as his home in the larger sense, while his willingness to defend that home in time of real need would be none the less present and strong.

Plans and specifications not available

There are hundreds of types and thousands of varieties of rural dwelling houses. It would perhaps be impracticable to attempt to furnish definite plans and specifications in connection with this chapter. The wide variation in the nature of the selected sites,[Pg 56] in the means available for building the home, in the size of the family to be accommodated, and the like, would hinder us in the attempt. But there are certain principles that may perhaps apply in nearly every instance and that especially in thought of serving the first and best needs of the juvenile members of the household.

It is altogether possible to make a two-room cottage out on the open prairie a place suggestive of repose, of beauty, and of other high ideals. So, no matter how small and inexpensive the rural dwelling may be, let the builders work first of all for that simple beauty and attractiveness which may most certainly invest the heart of the indweller with a feeling of comfort and satisfaction. Let it be a place, though humble, that may soon become to the members of the family the most beloved spot on earth. For, after all, the best things of life cannot possibly be bought with money. There are often misery and dissension and bitterness in the finest palatial dwelling, while the essential elements of beauty and worth may have lodgment in the hearts of the humblest cottage dwellers. However, it is not the intention here to argue any one into the thought of building a humble cot for the mere sake of humility. The point we desire to make is merely this: that, although possessed of very meager means with which to build, one can actually construct a home in which the inhabitants thereof may dwell[Pg 57] in peace and contentment, and a place over which the Spirit of the Most High may brood in great strength and beauty.

Plate V.

Fig. 5.—An attractive old country residence in the South, built in 1854. At least one good family has been matured therein. And to them
“How many sacred memories
Bring back those childhood scenes.”

What appeals to the children

In the selection of a location and a site for the dwelling the welfare of the children must be thought of, second only to that of the house mother. Now, what material arrangements will appeal to the growing children and add much interest and romance to their lives as in future time they view them in retrospect? First of all, perhaps, a broken landscape might well be mentioned, a hill or two near by the place, with a sharp cliff or embankment to the crest of which the children may climb and there cast down missiles. Such things tend to add a charm to the young lives. And then, if possible, have a brook or larger stream of fresh running water. A large river is less desirable on account of the danger to child life. But a stream which may furnish, not merely water for the live-stock, but a swimming and bathing place for the children in summer and a skating pond for them in winter, to say nothing about the pleasures of fishing and boating—these will appeal most strongly to the boys and girls. And then, the woodland, or at least the shady grove with trees to climb, and possibly nuts and wild flowers to gather—a place where chipmunks and song birds and the like may have their natural habitat, and[Pg 58] wherefrom there may proceed the weird and doleful sound of the night owl and the whip-poor-will; herein one may find many of the crude materials well suited to give proper nourishment to the souls of the young.

But the things just named will not nearly always be accessible. Throughout many of the commonwealths there are vast stretches of level plateaus with scarcely a hill or woodland in sight, and yet covered with a rich, tillable soil. These places may for good reasons be selected for the site of a dwelling. But they demand more work and heavier expense of money and time before the best material surroundings of an ideal home for boys and girls may be realized. Before the house is scarcely laid out in such a place, the shade and ornamental trees should be planted, selecting for part of the planting a quick-growing species that may be removed later after more permanent and more valuable trees have reached a suitable height. Of course, a stream of water cannot always be diverted so as to make it pass the place, but a fair substitute may be had by the construction of a pond. And this thing should be accomplished at the earliest possible moment. If there be a small dry ravine, dam it up with concrete and catch it full of surplus water during a rainy season. It is a positive injustice to boys and not a little unfair to girls to require them to grow up without any access to open water of some kind. And it is almost a matter of criminal neglect to require chil[Pg 59]dren to live permanently in a home about which there are no trees growing. So it is recommended, even if the house construction must in part be delayed or cut off, that the surroundings just named be sought in all earnestness.

The house plan

In planning and arranging the house, the matters to be thought of in addition to those named above are convenience and comfort. While it is somewhat important that the house look well to those who may be passing upon the highway, it is vastly more important that it be good within and serve such needs of the home-maker and the children as will conserve the strength of the former and render the lives of all happy and contented. In addition to the matters just named, that of placing the dwelling to face in the right direction will be thought of. That is, arrange the house so as to take advantage of the morning sunlight, the evening shade, the winter blasts and the summer breezes. While for the sake of entertainment it may be well to place the rural dwelling near the public highway, rather than sacrifice the child-developing factors of shade trees and streams and the like, it is often better to build back from the road and make a private lane leading thereto.

In arranging for the heat and light in the house, think first of all of the health and sanitation of the family. Ordinarily, the windows of the farmhouse[Pg 60] are too small; while worse still, many of them, even in the bed chambers, are permanently nailed down. So, if the health and the general well-being of the boys and girls, as well as the parents, are worth anything at all, attend religiously to these small and inexpensive conveniences, not neglecting to provide most carefully for keeping out flies and other insects. The wise farmer will find the secret of getting along with his own household and of rearing a strong, healthy family to lie in the strict attention he gives to just such small matters as these. The things that overstrain the physique, that try the temper and patience of the housewife, must especially be looked after and something of a better nature substituted for them.

How one farmer does it

Mr. W. F. Mottier, living in Ford County, Illinois, gives in Farmer’s Voice his plan of providing for the children, as follows:—

“I have always tried to farm intelligently. One of my favorite ideas in regard to farm life is that of making the home as attractive as possible for the children. So I put on the place all the modern improvements that I can afford, in order that the children may not feel that town life is the best. And our children do not have any desire to go to town. It would bring a sad thought to me to hear my children talk against the farm life or home life on the farm.”

[Pg 61]

Outbuildings and equipment

With few exceptions, the money available for building the home should be expended first in putting the house into the ideal condition just named. After that, if any means remain, the outbuildings may be constructed. Otherwise, crude, temporary arrangements may easily suffice. There is one thing, however, that must be provided with scrupulous care and that is the water for the household use. It must be, first of all, wholesome and comparatively free from impurities. Then, if at all possible, it should be cool and taste well. Actual records have shown that one will not drink enough water to satisfy the demands of his health in case the taste be in any degree unpleasant to him. So the ideal water for household use is comparatively soft, is cool, highly pleasing to the taste, and is free from disease-carrying germs. This comparatively simple matter of providing the water will prove most important in relation to the well-being of the household and the up-building of the family life. See to it at any cost that the well be situated out of the way of seepage from any barn or outbuilding, even though it may from such necessity be placed somewhat out of the reach of convenience.

Human rights prior to animal rights

If the farmer cannot afford to erect a good barn he may take reasonable care of his horses with the use[Pg 62] of a cheap, improvised one. Actual test will show that horses may be made comfortable in the summer time with the use of a straw-thatched shed for a barn, provided the drainage be reasonably good and the earth floor be kept in good order. The thatched covering may be made to keep out the rain. During the winter, with the use of a few slender poles, the entire shed may be inclosed with a hay or straw wall and the place thus be made very satisfactory for the time being. Similar sheds and protection may be provided for the other live-stock, all to await the time when the means are at hand for better conveniences. It is especially suggestive of a mean lack of consideration of human rights in the case of the farmer who has a big, expensive farm barn towering up beside a little dingy shanty of a dwelling house. And yet this thing is all too common, particularly in new prairie regions. Such is the place out of which beastliness and criminality and anarchy tend to be germinated from the lives of boys and girls, to say nothing about the hidden tragedies that surround the lives of the many women who are forced to put up with such an arrangement for half a lifetime.

Just one illustration of a situation of the sort described will suffice to point out the moral. On an occasion two strangers drew up to a farmhouse. One of them was a land agent, and the other a home seeker. Their mission was that of purchasing a farm. The owner of the farm showed them about[Pg 63] the place with considerable enthusiasm, but his heart swelled with pride when he reached the magnificent barn, one side of which was devoted to the propagation of a high-grade strain of Duroc Jersey swine. Every convenience and comfort for the hogs was provided. He boasted about his success with them, showed an affectionate regard for the different individuals, calling them by name. The horses, too, might have aroused the envy of the entire neighborhood. They were sleek and well-fed, full in flesh and fair in form. There was provided every convenience for feeding and caring for the horses and the hogs, so that the hired men found the work about the barn exceedingly easy and pleasant.

Then the attention of the visitors was turned to the farmhouse. Yes, it was small and run down and poor, the intention being to build a larger one “some time.” But that same intention was known to have been expressed repeatedly for a period of twenty years past. And where were the boys? Well, that was the trouble, and furnished the excuse for his willingness to sell the place. He simply could not induce the boys to stay there and take an interest in things. Two of them, barely more than boys, had left the home nest in its meanness and degradation and hired out in town. The mother of the boys was living there because she had to, but upon her face were lines of suffering and disappointment and degradation. Yet in the midst of it all,[Pg 64] strange to say, the father seemed to blame the boys and their mother for having conspired against the interests of the farm home and plotted to get away. In the course of his conversation he made it somewhat evident that he would have sold out and left sooner had the other members of the family not been so urgent about the matter, and that he was now holding on partly to indulge his spite and feeling of stubbornness in reference to them.

The cheap novels one may pick up depict many a fictitious tragedy. But in the place just described lies the typical scene of thousands of real tragedies during the course of which numberless lives of boys and girls have been wrecked forever,—lives latent with possibilities of goodness and beauty, of mental and moral strength. And then, the bitterness and anguish of soul of the mothers of these lost members of a high humanity—what of that? The silent walls of an untimely grave in many cases closed them in, while much of the memory of their secret suffering lies buried with them.

The children’s room

Even though the means available will not allow for more than the humblest sort of cottage, there should be definite thought of providing therein some room or niche or corner to be considered as the private property of the children. In a three-room dwelling on the Kansas prairie in which lives a[Pg 65] happy family of five, and about which thrifty young shade trees and orchards are growing, there may be seen a children’s room that would surprise and inspire any ordinary observer. In a little attic room facing the east and reached by a mere step-ladder arrangement, may be found the “den,” which is the private place of the three children. A small window opens out to the east and a small improvised dormer window about twelve by twenty inches admits light and air from the south. There is no plastering or other expensive covering upon the sloping roof walls, but the artistic mother has provided dainty white muslin for concealing the rough places, and with the help of the children she has decorated the little room in a manner that would attract the very elect. None of this has required a money cost, but it has all been done beautifully at the expense of thought and good sense and artistic taste, prompted by rare consideration for the needs of the boys and girls.

Plate VI.

Fig. 6.—A commodious farmhouse in Canada, equipped throughout with a complete water system. Many farmers waste enough trying to build a house without a modern plan to pay for this extra convenience.

The two little girls and their brother, ranging in age from five to ten years, spend many a happy hour in their attic chamber. The heat from the room below comes through a small aperture and warms the little place in winter time, while the breeze passes through the little windows in summer, tempering the room satisfactorily excepting upon extremely hot days. Upon the walls are arranged beautiful post cards, larger pictures gathered from magazines and[Pg 66] other sources, and small though beautiful home decorations of every conceivable sort. The little seven-year-old boy has a small assortment of curios collected from the hills and streams, while the girls have a small display of their childish needlework, their dolls, and some of their best school drawings. How suggestive and how helpful it would be if this little den could be displayed before the eyes of all the humble cottagers throughout the rural districts!

Yes, the hogs may live out-of-doors and the horses get along very well indeed with a temporary barn thatched with straw, but the places of the boys and girls must be looked after and that in the interest of making them happy, of filling their lives with every good, clean sentiment, and of preparing them for that large sphere of usefulness which may mark their future. If the house be larger than the one we have described, then provide accordingly for the children. Give them a good room of their own. Put their ornaments and playthings in it. If there be space, provide a library containing a few suitable volumes. And after this thoughtful provision has been made, see to it carefully that their schedule for work, schooling, and the other duties allows for ample time and opportunity for their enjoyment of the apartment set aside for them. In years to come, that sweet poetic sentiment running back to the home of one’s childhood will be given greater strength and beauty because of the fact that this thing just urged[Pg 67] has been done. And more than that, the man (or woman) who has the blessed privilege of recalling these bygone scenes of childhood receives from such contemplation a new sense of inner strength and new enduement of power to go on with life’s struggle and master the larger problems that come to him.

The evening hour

No matter what the cares of the day may have been, how many things may have gone wrong, how much hay left out in the field unprotected from the rain, how many acres of corn unplowed and losing in the battle with the weeds, how many items of household duties unperformed—there is every justification for laying aside these work-a-day affairs at the approach of bedtime and for the spending of a precious hour with the problems of the children. Farm parents as well as other parents can thus preserve their youth and add immeasurably to the joys of their own lives. This thing of being with the children at evening may seem slightly awkward and prosaic at first, but it will slowly grow into a habit and will become transformed into an experience of great charm and beauty. Best of all the high refinement, potential in the lives of the children, will thus be gradually brought to an expression, and the foundation stones of substantial manhood and womanhood will be laid in their lives. Yes, it is true, even farm parents may learn to lay aside their[Pg 68] cares and perplexities and enjoy the splendid privilege of getting intimately acquainted with the hopes and desires and aspirations of their boys and girls!


The Outlook to Nature. Revised edition. L. H. Bailey. Page 79, “The Country Home.” Macmillan.

Low Cost Country Homes. A. Embury, Jr. Collier’s, June 10, 1911.

A Primer of Sanitation. John O. Ritchie. Chapter XXXIII, “Public Sanitation.” World Book Company, Yonkers, N.Y. Recommended for general use.

From Kitchen to Garret. Virginia Van de Water. Chapter X, “The Boy’s Room.” Sturgis-Walton Company.

Home Waterworks. Carleton J. Lynde. Sturgis-Walton.

“Comforts and Conveniences in Farmers’ Homes.” W. R. Beattie. Yearbook, Department of Agriculture, 1909. Washington, D.C., pp. 345-356. See also in same volume, “Hygienic Water Supply for Farms,” pp. 399-408.

Water Supply for Farm Residences, The Plan of the Farm-House, Saving Steps. Cornell Reading-Courses.

Rural Hygiene. H. N. Ogden. The Macmillan Company.

Rural Hygiene. I. N. Brewer. J. P. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Earn your Child’s Friendship. J. Balfield. Lippinott’s Magazine, January, 1911.

Fireside Child Study. Patterson DuBois. Dodd, Mead & Co.

Home Decorations. Dorothy T. Priestman. Chapter XIV, “Rooms for Young People.” Penn Publishing Company, Philadelphia.

[Pg 69]



It may be truly said that the strength and impressiveness of the personality depend on the nature of the inner thought of the individual. Now, thoughts are not unlike the trees and the growing grain, or, for that matter, any other living thing; unless they have proper nourishment they wither, perish, or dwindle away to a puny shadow of their possible selves. How shall we measure the strength and force of the human character other than by the bigness and the purity of the daily thoughts of the individual? It matters little what the occupation may be—a hewer of stone, a hauler of wood, a captain of industry, or a governor of a state—each of these may be mean and little in his respective position provided his thoughts be sensuous and groveling. On the other hand, each of these can shine in his allotted place in a light all his own, provided he have the habit of entertaining clean and inspiring ideas in his secret consciousness.

Now, one of the larger problems of the rural life is that of supplying the many hours necessarily de[Pg 70]voted to silent reflection with a suitable form of thought culture. Proverbially, the farmer and his wife and their children are hurried along with the work-a-day affairs and tend gradually to acquire the non-reading habit. This is bad for the parents in that it keeps their minds running around upon a little cycle of hard, industrial facts. It is worse for the children in that it fails to supply the proper nourishment for the dream period through which their lives are necessarily passing. What can be done, therefore, to nourish and build up the best possible thought activities, especially in case of the rural boys and girls?

How good thinking grows up and flourishes

It may not be out of place to show here somewhat more definitely how attractive forms of literature gradually work themselves into the lives of the young. In the first place, the young person cannot invent his own ideas. He does not manufacture his thoughts out of something latent within his organism. The latent situation consists merely of a nervous system prepared to receive manifold impressions and to retain them and give them back through the process of ideation. That is, the young person thinks only about things that have actually happened in his life. All he knows has come to him through the avenue of his senses; what he has seen and heard and felt, and so on, constitutes the “stuff” out of which[Pg 71] his thoughts are made. So he must have the widest possible experience, while young, in the use of his natural senses.

The literature best adapted to the child would be that which appeals to the interests predominating in his life at any given time. During his early years not hard, prosaic facts, but situations that stretch the truth and sport with the fixed condition of things are especially appealing to him. He should therefore be indulged in the classic myths, fables, fairy tales, and the like. The parent will of course be on guard against his acquiring any seriously erroneous beliefs in respect to such things, and also against his receiving any serious shock or fright from the tragic aspects of the tale. Later on, during the early teens, the boys and girls will become more and more interested in the stories of the wars of old and in the fact and romance of history. Stories supplementing the text-book history of the home country may now be introduced.

As a possible means of bringing the minds of the boys and girls into a more intimate knowledge of the rural situation, nature studies and nature stories should be offered. It must be remembered that it is quite possible for the boy to grow up within a stone’s throw of many of the living things of nature and yet scarcely recognize their presence, much less know anything definite about them. Therefore, nature-study books and leaflets written perhaps in story[Pg 72] form and containing attractive illustrations of the birds, bees, flowers, and trees to be found near about the rural home will prove most interesting and instructive to the young. Through such helpful literature the mind will gradually acquire the habit of casting about in the home environment for the description of possible objects and conditions new to one.

One of the best and most helpful results accruing to the young person who indulges the habit of reading good literature is this: he acquires a large vocabulary of words and phrases in which to clothe his secret thought and with which to express himself to others. All this furnishes, not merely a splendid form of entertainment for the silent reflections, but it also gives the thinker a sense of the power and the worth of his own personality.

Types of literature

It may be stated as a foregone conclusion that no farm is well equipped for the happiness and well-being of those who dwell thereon unless there be an ample supply of good literature in the house. No matter how well stocked with high-grade farm animals, how productive in point of farm crops, how well kept the hedges and lanes may be, secret poverty and littleness of mind lurk in that home if the literature is wanting. So, first of all, let us lay the foundation by means of enumerating some periodicals and books of a more general nature.

Plate VII.

Fig. 7.—It is a mistake to try to make bookworms of children. Many of their best books are “green fields and running brooks,” also frequent opportunity to play together in groups and neighborhoods.

[Pg 73]1. The best reading.—Of course the Bible might head the list. Whether or not there be a large “family” Bible, there should be at least a text of convenient size and form for everyday use. This book should contain a good concordance.

Then there should come into the home a first-class weekly newspaper; possibly the local paper will supply this need. Many farm homes now receive a daily paper regularly.

In addition there should be available a weekly or monthly summary of the current events of the nation and the world. The Literary Digest, the World’s Work, and the Review of Reviews are examples of standard magazines of this particular class. Either one of them will stimulate most helpfully the quiet thought of the farmer and the members of his family and keep one in touch with the most important movements of the country.

Along with the foregoing, there should be kept constantly at hand a first-class farm magazine. There are numberless periodicals of this sort, but perhaps among those of the first rank and those which especially give definite helps for the boy-and-girl life of the farm may be mentioned Wallaces’ Farmer, Des Moines, Iowa, the Farmer’s Voice, Chicago, Illinois, and the Farmer’s Guide, Huntington, Indiana. Also, the semi-official state paper well known in many of the commonwealths is usually very helpful.

[Pg 74]Look out for trash. There are many papers published, ostensibly in the interest of farm life, which are in fact cheap and trashy sheets made use of almost wholly as a medium of advertising quack medicines, get-rich-quick schemes, and other frauds. A reliable means of testing the value of any one of these so-called “farm” or “home” papers is to examine the advertisements. If there be any considerable number of advertisements which offer sure cures for chronic diseases, confidential treatments for secret troubles, fortune telling, and attractive high-priced articles at a trifling cost, then the whole thing is probably fraudulent and not worthy to come into your home. Also avoid the paper or magazine which advertises intoxicating liquors. It is very low in moral tone, to say the least.

2. Books for children.—In selecting a list of books for farm boys and girls, we should make little or no distinction between them and the children of the city homes. Their earlier literary needs are practically all alike and their youthful minds must be nourished in about the same fashion. In offering the lists to follow we do not pretend to have selected nearly all the profitable books available, but rather to have named a few examples of volumes already found enticing and helpful to the young mind. The majority of them are standard and well known. While the price and publisher are given in[Pg 75] many instances, often a cheaper edition may be had.

In order to proceed with greater certainty and economy in purchasing books for the children, the rural parent is advised to consult some one near at hand who is thoroughly familiar with children’s literature. Perhaps the superintendent of schools of the town near by, or some local minister, or some well-informed leader of a mothers’ club, may furnish the desired assistance. It would also be helpful to write for the general catalogues of a number of the large publishing and distributing houses and from their lists select a number of suitable titles. Many of them publish the older classics in very attractive form for ten to twenty-five cents, the original unchanged and unabridged.

In order to stimulate interest in forming the nucleus of a home library the farmer should either make or purchase a small set of book shelves. Important as it may seem to build a first-class house for the thoroughbred hogs, this matter of the children’s reading is even more important and should be attended to first, before it becomes too late to catch the attentive ear of the boys and girls.


The following lists are taken chiefly from those selected by such well-known critics as Mary Mapes Dodge, Kate Douglas Wiggin, Edward Everett Hale, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and Hamilton W. Mabie.

[Pg 76]

Ages Four to Six Years

Various Authors. Boston Collection of Kindergarten Stories. J. L. Hammett Company, Boston. 50 cents.

Bryant. Stories to Tell to Children. Houghton, Mifflin Company.

Holbrook. Hiawatha Primer. 50 cents. Houghton, Mifflin Company.

Eggleston. Story of Great America for Little Americans. 35 cents. Houghton, Mifflin Company.

Scudder. Fables and Folk Stories.

Stevenson. A Child’s Garden of Verses.

Lang. Blue Fairy Book.

Ruskin. King of the Golden River.

Field. Lullaby Land.

Wiggin. The Story Hour.

Sewell. Black Beauty.

Ages Six to Seven Years

Norton and Stephens. The Heart of Oak Books, No. 1. 25 cents. Heath.

Gilbert. Mother Goose.

Carroll (Charles L. Dodgson). Alice in Wonderland. $3. Harper. 35 cents. Crowell.

Andrews. The Seven Little Sisters. 60 cents. Ginn.

Kingsley. Water Babies.

Kipling. The Jungle Book.

Greene. King Arthur and his Court.

Ages Seven to Eight Years

Grimm. Fairy Tales. Translated Mrs. E. Lucas. $2.50. Lippincott.

Goldsmith. Goody Two-Shoes. 25 cents. Heath

Æsop. Fables. Selected by Jacobs. $1.50. Macmillan.

Harris. Nights with Uncle Remus. $1.50. Houghton, Mifflin.

Bible Stories. 60 cents. A. L. Burt Company, New York.

Hawthorne. Wonderbook and Tanglewood Tales.

Irving. Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, or The Sketch Book.

[Pg 77]

Ages Eight to Nine Years

Baldwin. Fifty Famous Stories Retold. 35 cents. American Book Company.

Longfellow. Hiawatha, The Village Blacksmith, The Children’s Hour, etc.

Mabie. Norse Stories Retold from Edda. $1.80. Dodd, Mead.

Miller. Out-of-Door Diary for Boys and Girls. Sturgis-Walton Company.

Ages Nine to Ten Years

Norton and Stephens. Heart of Oak Books, No. 4. 45 cents. Heath.

Hodges. The Garden of Eden. (Bible Stories.) $1.50. Houghton, Mifflin.

Mathews. Familiar Trees and Their Leaves. $1.75. Appleton.

Burroughs. Wake Robin.

Ages Ten to Eleven Years

Higginson. Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic.

Dana. How to know the Wild Flowers. $2. Scribner.

Blanchan. Bird Neighbors. 35 cents. Doubleday, Page.

Norton and Stephens. Heart of Oak Books, No. 5. 50 cents. Heath.

Church. Stories from Virgil.

Morley. A Song of Life.

Stevenson. Treasure Island.

Ages Eleven to Twelve Years

Alcott. Little Women. $1.50. Little Men. $1.50. Little, Brown & Co.

Lucas. A Wanderer in London. $1.75. Macmillan.

Aldrich. Story of a Bad Boy. $1.25. Houghton, Mifflin.

Shakespeare. The Tempest.

Scott. Tales of a Grandfather. The Talisman.

Edgeworth. Parent’s Assistant.

Ages Twelve to Thirteen Years

Kipling. Just So Stories. $1.20. Doubleday, Page.

Seton-Thompson. Wild Animals I have Known. $2. Scribner.

[Pg 78]

Wyss. Swiss Family Robinson. 60 cents. McKay; also Dutton.

Palmer. The Odyssey. $1. Houghton, Mifflin.

Goldsmith. The Vicar of Wakefield.

Dickens. A Christmas Carol. The Cricket on the Hearth.

Hughes. Tom Brown at Rugby.

Ages Thirteen to Fourteen Years

Swift. Gulliver’s Travels. $1.50. Macmillan.

Longfellow. Evangeline.

Dana. Two Years before the Mast. $1. Houghton, Mifflin.

Norton and Stephens. Heart of Oak Books, No. 6. 55 cents. Heath.

Lamb. Tales from Shakespeare.

Coffin. Old Times in the Colonies.

Franklin. Autobiography.

Stowe. Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Ages Fourteen to Fifteen Years

Defoe. Robinson Crusoe. $1. McLoughlin. $1.50. Harper.

Bunyan. Pilgrim’s Progress.

Norton and Stephens. Heart of Oak Books, No. 7. 60 cents. Heath.

Austen. Pride and Prejudice.

Thoreau. Walden.

Ages Fifteen to Sixteen Years

Cooper. Leather Stocking Tales.

Burroughs. Birds and Bees. 15 cents. Strawbridge and Clothier.

Pyle. Robin Hood. 60 cents. Scribner.

Scott. Ivanhoe. 60 cents. Appleton. Lady of the Lake. 35 cents.

Ginn. Lay of the Last Minstrel. 25 cents. Macmillan.

Sixteen Years Old and Older

Irving. The Alhambra. 25 cents. Macmillan.

Macaulay. Lays of Ancient Rome. 75 cents. Macmillan.

Kipling. Captains Courageous. $1.50. Century.

Nicolay and Hay. Boy’s Life of Lincoln. $1.50. Century.

Eggleston. Hoosier School Boy. $1. Scribner; also Heath.

[Pg 79]

In addition to the foregoing, there is beginning to come from the press a mass of juvenile literature that promises to furnish most practical inspiration and guidance to the juvenile mind on the farm. Much of this new rural life literature may be had for the asking or for the mere price of publication. The following are recommended:—

The Rural School Leaflet. Edited by Alice G. McCloskey, and issued under the general direction of L. H. Bailey at Ithaca, N.Y.

The Country Life Publications, issued by D. W. Working, Superintendent of Agricultural Extension, Morgantown, W.Va.

The series published by A. B. Graham, Superintendent of the Extension Department, Ohio University, Columbus.

The annual reports of County Superintendent O. J. Kern, Rockford, Ill., and of County Superintendent George W. Brown, Paris, Ill.

The Wisconsin Arbor and Bird Day Annual, issued by State Superintendent C. P. Cary, Madison, Wis.

The Extension Departments of many of the state universities and nearly all of the state agricultural colleges are now issuing a series of small pamphlets on such matters as stock judging, grain breeding, soil testing, and home economics. This literature should be given the widest possible circulation in the country home, as it will prove helpful both to the young and to the parents in their direction of the young.

Literature on Child-rearing

Parents who are seriously in earnest in the matter of developing the lives of their children will find great assistance and much inspiration through the reading of books and magazines on the child-rearing problems. In fact, it may be put down as a practical certainty that the work of child training cannot go on effectively and continue in its interest except one have some aids of the kind just named. Therefore, the interested parent should cast about for the books and magazines that promise to serve in the solution of the particular problems at hand. It happens that the author has collected a large number of books and periodicals of this class and that he has made a somewhat critical examination of them.

In listing the titles below, a word or phrase is used to indicate the contents or purpose of the text.

[Pg 80]

1. Periodicals on Child-rearing

The American Baby. American Publishing Company, 1 Madison Ave., New York City. $1 per year, 10 cents per copy. Contains much detailed and most helpful instruction on the care of the child.

American Motherhood. Coopertown, N.Y. $1 per year, 10 cents per copy. Helpful and sympathetic. Especially strong in respect to health and sanitation and in methods of instructing children in regard to the secrets of life.

The Child-Welfare Magazine. Official organ of the National Congress of Mothers, 147 North 10th Street, Philadelphia. 50 cents per year, 10 cents per copy.

The educational pamphlets published by the Society of Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis, 9 E 2d Street, New York City. Excellent monographs, each treating some urgent child problem in relation to morals, sanitation, and the like.

The Home-training Bulletins, prepared and issued by William A. McKeever, Professor of Philosophy, State Agricultural College, Manhattan, Kan. 5 cents each. Each of these pamphlets contains about sixteen pages and covers a particular home-training problem. The numbers thus far issued are:—

1. The Cigarette Smoking Boy.

2. Teaching the Boy to Save.

3. Training the Girl to Help in the Home.

4. Assisting the Boy in the Choice of a Vocation.

5. A Better Crop of Boys and Girls.

6. Training the Boy to Work.

7. Teaching the Girl to Save.

8. Instructing the Young in Regard to Sex.

Others are in course of preparation.

2. Books on Child-rearing

Holt. Care and Feeding of Children. $1 Appleton. Most helpful and practical.

Curley. Short Talks with Young Mothers. $1.50. Putnams. Helpful from the medical side.

[Pg 81]

Harrison. A Study of Child Nature. $1. Chicago Kindergarten College. Excellent. A standard help.

Allen. Civics and Health. $1.25. Ginn & Co. Most helpful on the side of sanitation.

Hall. Youth. $1.50. Appleton. A great book on child study by one of the world’s leading authorities.

King. Psychology of Child Development. $1. University of Chicago Press. A Fundamental work for those who wish to make a scientific study of child life.

Ritchie. A Primer of Sanitation. 60 cents. World Book Company. A clear, helpful presentation of the facts.

Chance. The Care of the Child. $1. Penn Publishing Company. Full of detailed information about infants, especially.

Mangold. Child Problems. $1.25. Macmillan. Presents the matter ably and in the light of the freshest information.

Call. The Freedom of Life. $1. Little, Brown & Co. A great and inspiring book. Will give rest and poise to tired mothers.

Gulick. Mind and Work. $1. Doubleday, Page & Co. A companion book to the one above, only more suitable for the father.

Saleeby. Parenthood and Race Culture. $2.50. Moffat, Yard & Co., New York. A remarkably instructive volume on race improvement.


How to Direct Children’s Reading. Mae E. Schreiber. Annual volume N.E.A., 1900, p. 637.

A Suggestive List for a Children’s Library, 483 titles. Helen T. Kennedy. Democrat Printing Company. Minneapolis.

A Mother’s List of Books for Children. Catherine W. Arnold. A. C. McClurg & Co.

Children’s Rights. Kate Douglas Wiggin. Pages 69 ff. “What shall Children Read?” Houghton, Mifflin Company.

Fingerposts of Children’s Reading. Walter Taylor Field. McClurg & Co. Gives extensive lists.

Books for Boys and Girls. Brooklyn Public Library, New York. A carefully selected list of 1700 titles, 200 of them being especially marked for their value.

[Pg 82]



There was never a greater demand for efficient leadership in the rural communities than there is to-day. The country has continued for many years past to become richer in farm products and equipment, but it has steadily grown poorer in social and spiritual values. In fact we have unconsciously acquired a distorted idea of values. Hogs are too high in proportion to boys. Beef cattle are absorbing too much interest in proportion to the time and money expended in perfecting the character of girls. It has long been the proud boast of the Middle Western states that they could feed the entire country. And we have continued so long in this way as now to regard big crops and the great abundance of farm animals and other such material possessions as ends in themselves. So it is high time that we ask ourselves what this material wealth is all for. Looked at from at least one high vantage point, it may be properly regarded as so much encumbrance unless we shall be able to convert it into a means to some worthy and spiritual purpose.

[Pg 83]

Decadence of rural life

The open country in the Middle Western states has for some time been the breeding place for sterling manhood and ideal womanhood, and the recruiting ground wherefrom have been drawn many men and women to undertake the management of the larger enterprises of the country. The enforced self denial and discipline of work; the continued practice of quiet reflection; the comparative freedom from the evil and degrading influences peculiar to much of the child life in the cities; and many other character-building experiences could be set down on the favorable side of rural child-rearing in the past. But this situation is rapidly changing. The ten-year period just closing has witnessed a decadence of country life, the rural population actually showing a decrease. Large numbers of the best families have moved to the cities and towns, and their places on the farm have been taken by irresponsible laborers and transient renters.

Yes, the wealth of the rural community is still there, lying more or less dormant, and all the other means of a splendid civilization are there. But in the usual instance there is no one to assume the leadership in bringing about the reconstruction of the rural life. Now that he has accumulated such an abundance of material things, the typical farmer needs to be shown how to deal more fairly and[Pg 84] helpfully with the various members of his family. Some farmers’ wives are gradually being dragged to death with the over-burden of work, which might be obviated if the farmer and his wife were both shown specifically a better way of getting things done. Many boys and girls growing up in the country are being cheated out of their natural heritage of good health, spontaneous play, and the joy of social intercourse, all because of the fact that farm products are too much regarded as an end rather than a means to the higher development of the members of the rural family. So a good soil and excellent crops are essentials for a substantial rural society, but they are not a certain evidence of such thing. It is possible to go into some of the country communities where these material things are accumulated in great abundance and yet find the people there living a little, mean, and narrow form of life, and that chiefly because they do not quite understand how to use the splendid means at hand in the accomplishment of some high and worthy purposes.

Work for the ministry

And so we hereby issue a call and a challenge for workers to enter the great fallow field just named and make it blossom with new social and spiritual life. And it is the conviction of some that the ministers of the town and village churches can undertake this work much better than any other class of persons,[Pg 85] for they are already in many respects trained leaders. Let these ministers be provided if possible with an assistant, a layman it may be, for both their town and country work. Then let each of them have a rural appointment to which they may go from one to four times each month; and, inspired by a vision of all the possibilities ahead of them and endued with divine power and guidance, enter earnestly into the great work of rehabilitating the country community. It is evident that the minister who will leave his town congregation with perhaps only one Sunday sermon and go to a country church and preach to the adults, and teach and lead the young, while his assistant takes charge of the second Sunday service at home—it is evident that such a minister will not only wear longer in the locality in which he is stationed, but that he will find in the rural work just mentioned such a flood of zeal and inspiration as will more than make up for and repay the effort. Many of the town ministers are preaching to audiences that are more or less irresponsive to what they have to say. Under present conditions they are compelled to preach to the same audiences too much. Their sermons grow stale. But under the arrangement here recommended, such conditions would not obtain. They would come back from the rural appointment so laden with new ideas and ideals as to appear to the home congregation in a most advantageous light.

[Pg 86]

The country minister

There is at present not a little promise that there may be developed throughout the country a new type of country-dwelling ministers. It is certainly a logical position for the effective religious worker to assume; namely, that of actually dwelling among those whom he is attempting to serve. He acquires an intimate knowledge of their problems, their point of view, including the status of their individual beliefs and prejudices.

Plate VIII.

Fig. 8.—The fifty-year-old country church at Plainfield.
Fig. 9.—The new country church at Plainfield, Illinois, erected through the inspiration and leadership of Reverend Matthew B. McNutt.

As an example of what the country minister can achieve one needs to read an account of the splendid work of the Rev. Mathew B. McNutt of Plainfield, Illinois. Mr. McNutt was called to this charge in 1900 when a fresh graduate from a Presbyterian seminary. At the time of his call there was in the locality a small dead or nominal church membership and an occasional weak, ineffective service held in the little old church of fifty years’ standing. This devoted and far-seeing man got down among the people with whom he settled, made a careful survey of the economic, the social, and the religious life of the place, and began his wonderful work of reconstructing all this. The ultimate purpose was the improvement of the spiritual well-being. He organized singing schools, granges, literary and debating societies, sewing societies, and clubs of various other sorts, all as a means of awakening the[Pg 87] life of the community and bringing the people together in a spirit of mutual sympathy and helpfulness. After less than a decade of hard work a marvelous transformation of the rural life thereabout was achieved. Among other notable changes was a new church to supplant the old one. The new building was erected at a cash cost of ten thousand dollars; has an audience room seating five hundred or more, several Sunday school class rooms, a choir room, a cloak room, a pastor’s study and a mothers’ room, all on the main floor. In the basement below there is a good kitchen, a dining room with equipment, also a furnace, a store room, and the like. The church membership has grown to one hundred sixty-three with many non-members attending, while the Sunday school enrollment increased to three hundred.

Now there are always a few minds who wish to measure all earthly things in terms of a money value. To such it may be shown that the land values in the vicinity of this new country church have gone up to a marked degree and that the economic conditions are all of a most satisfactory nature.

As further evidence of what a rural community working together may achieve for the spiritual welfare, there may be cited the instance of the little side station by the name of Ogden in Riley County, Kansas. Here the people got together and voted to[Pg 88] build a country church, and that without determining as to the denominational affiliation. A committee of leaders was appointed to raise funds and to draw plans for the building. In a short time, arrangements were perfected for constructing the building at a cost of four thousand dollars. It was later voted to place this new church temporarily under the direction of the Congregational church in Manhattan, fifteen miles away.

In one or two instances the religious leaders in a country community have succeeded admirably in establishing a “commission” form of church administration. The method pursued has been that of having a committee of three, each a member of a different church, to call by turn from the towns near by the ministers of the various denominations. Further details of the plans provide for the committee to raise funds so that the minister may be paid a definite amount for the service conducted.

One of the first essential steps in the establishment of a rural church is a careful survey or study of the situation. While it may be accounted a sin against God and humanity to add another church where there are already more than the people can support, often it will be found that very large, well populated country districts are wholly without access to any religious service whatever. Verily, the field is white unto the harvest and the laborers as yet are few.

[Pg 89]

A mistake in training

Too long we have been training young people in the school and in the home to struggle for the best of everything—a sort of rivalry that results in envy, jealousy, and strife, and a falling apart where there should be coöperation and sympathy and a spirit of mutual helpfulness. The craze for clothes, the glare of the electric lights, and the lure of the cheap theater have struck the country people and are drawing away much of the best young blood there. It seems that we have over-done this thing of pointing to the top and urging our young people to scramble for that, until as a result no one is looking for a place to serve, while all are looking for a place to shine. Now, there may be “plenty of room at the top” for selfish scrambling, but in some respects the top is woefully over-crowded. On the other hand, there is a vast amount of good room at the bottom, acres of it, and we might well commend it to every one who may be imbued with the idea of doing some effective work in the world. All over the broad, open country, in thousands of rural districts, the situation at the bottom is literally crying out for constructive workers who will come in there with their good courage, their scientific training, and in the name of the Most High get down among the people and the common things in the midst of which the people live and lay a substantial[Pg 90] foundation for a new and beautiful structure—an edifice erected out of the plain materials to be found in any ordinary rural community, and that by means of transforming such things and making them contributive to the high and lofty spirit-purposes for which they are really designed.

Rural child-rearing

We are not half awake as yet to the meaning and possibilities of the rural community as a place for rearing children. The city environment ripens youths too fast and too early and works all the spontaneity and aggressiveness out of the boys and girls before their mature judgments are ready to function. As a result of this city hot-bed, we have as a type the blasé sort of young man, and a young woman who is overly smart in respect to the “proper things to do.” Either of them has little power of initiative and less power of persistence. One of the greatest virtues of the somewhat isolated rural home is that it matures human character more slowly and keeps the boys and girls fresh and “green” and spontaneous while there is being gradually worked into their characters the habit of industry and the power of doing constructive work.

If one should desire to obtain a sterling specimen of manhood, he would not take up with the “smart” city youth who at the age of sixteen has had all the experiences known to men. The latter is too[Pg 91] ripe. He knows it all. From his own point of view, his knowledge of the world is nearly completed. No, one would prefer to go to the most remote country district and, if need be, lasso some green, gawky, sixteen-year-old who is afraid of the cars and the big girls and who has never had a suit of clothes that fits him. This scared, unbroken youth would go through a tremendous amount of rough-and-tumble, trial-and-error experiences during the course of his college training; and he would live intensively and rush into many unknown places and commit many blunders, between whiles catching countless inspiring visions of how he might be or become a man of great strength and ruggedness of character. Such a man might be relied upon to shoulder the heavy burdens of the world. Such a man could be called out to join in the forefront of battle when the moral and religious rights of the people were at issue. Such a man when fully matured could be sent into some kind of missionary field and be expected to labor there for a long time alone, courageous and persistent, finally winning a very small following; then a larger number of adherents; and then the entire population at his heels, applauding and backing him up in his every worthy effort.

The author has long had a vision of a man trained and developed through the seasoning experiences just sketched and who, under the inspiration and the guidance of the Most High, will go into these rural[Pg 92] communities which are latent with material life, and there begin his labors in behalf of the higher things into which all the elements of this typical rural situation may be transformed. Just as fast as men hear this divine call and heed it and take up this work, so fast will our country life be reconstructed and the best that is in our society become gloriously transformed and everlastingly saved as a heritage of the oncoming generations. And it is evident that the rural minister, working through the rural church, is the person to whom this divine call may most naturally come.

The churches too narrow

Not a few of the country churches are too narrow in their limitations, tending to chill out those who do not happen to be adherents of the creed, and to foster dissensions and hatred among neighbors. And they are not touching in a vital way the lives of country boys and girls.

Plate IX.

Fig. 10.—This attractive and modern church building was erected by the Christian people living in the vicinity of the country village of Ogden, Kansas. Four different denominations participated at its dedication. Its ruling body is undenominational.

It will be agreed that the gospel of the Master of men may be made so broad and inviting as to attract all who have a spark of religion in their natures, and that means practically every one in the community. But there is no good reason why the rural church should stand alone as such. It should and can be made a social as well as a religious center for the whole community. So, let there be constructed a modern building with big windows, and several[Pg 93] apartments for Sunday school classes, and for meetings of social groups, such as the grange, the farmers’ institute, the sewing society, and the literary and debating clubs. Then there should be apparatus for the preparation of meals, with a room in which a long table might be spread as occasion demands. Outside of this building there should be a children’s playground with some simple apparatus for play.

Not less frequently than one afternoon of the month—and twice would be better—the people of the community should drop everything and come together for a good social time and a general exchange of ideas. On an occasion of this kind the town minister could be present or someone from the outside who would bring with him at least one helpful and practical idea about building up country life. Let this building be regarded as the property of every man, woman, and child in the community and strive to bring it to pass that the legitimate and worthy interest of all shall be actually served there.

Constructive work of the church

This country church here thought of need be no less a religious affair, but it must become distinctively a socializing agency. It must not merely save souls, but it must save and conserve and develop for this present life the bodily, the moral, and the intellectual powers of the young. One cannot adequately develop those splendid latent powers in young[Pg 94] people solely by means of teaching them the Sunday school lesson or preaching to them, no matter how true the gospel may be. The evidence is ample to show that boys and girls who attend church and Sunday school are nevertheless falling into many vicious habits of conduct, and are growing up without many of the forms of discipline and training essential for stable Christian character and social and moral efficiency. In fact as a means of temporal salvation the old-fashioned church and Sunday school are proving more and more a failure.

Now, as soon as the church realizes the meaning of the foregoing situation and acts accordingly, just so soon will this splendid old institution be enabled to do efficient work in vitalizing the practical affairs of the community in which it is located. To illustrate this point: The great curse of boyhood to-day is the tobacco habit, and this vitiating practice is slowly working its way among the country youth. The youth who acquires the smoking habit before becoming physically matured thereby depletes his physical health to a marked degree, reduces his mental efficiency ten to fifty per cent, and almost completely destroys his power of initiative. Such a youth is never found contending for any moral issue or any high and worthy cause of the people. His constructive instinct is made more quiescent, while his disposition to condone evil is greatly and permanently increased. Boys who attend church[Pg 95] and Sunday school are also, like others, falling victims to the sex evils of various forms.

An innovation in the rural church

Perhaps there is no better illustration of how the economic affairs of the neighborhood may be vitally linked with the church service than the work carried on under the direction of Superintendent George W. Brown, of Paris, Illinois. During one year Mr. Brown conducted on seven different occasions an over-Sunday program, somewhat as follows:—

On Saturday either at the country school house or in the basement of the country church there was arranged an exhibition of corn, while during the day class exercises in the study of corn were in progress. On the day following, Sunday, there were two sermons, the theme of each being closely allied to the economic problems studied the day previously. The ministers are reported to have coöperated enthusiastically in this work, each one attempting in his sermon to show how better economic life may be made contributive to a better religious life.

On the Monday following, the program was continued with a farmers’ institute representative of the several interests of the adults and the young people. At this Monday meeting a number of the faculty of the state university were in attendance and gave helpful addresses appropriate to the occasion. At[Pg 96] night the County Superintendent gave an illustrated lecture, using the stereopticon to show the audience just what was being done in the various parts of the county and country by way of improvement of the social and economic conditions.

In many places in the New England and other eastern states the rural communities are attacking the social-religious problems in practically the same manner as is being done at Plainfield, Illinois. At Danbury, New Hampshire, there is a Country Settlement Association, which is accomplishing some epoch-making things. At the official building there is provided a trained nurse to assist the entire community. The organization conducts social-betterment work for the local neighborhood and leads in a campaign for social reform throughout the state.

Likewise, at Lincoln, Vermont, there is an interesting example of coöperation between the religious and social interests. Three churches have formed a federated society. In a building maintained in common by them, the meetings of the Ladies’ Aid Society, the Good Templars, the Grange, the Grand Army Post, and many others of a social nature are held. Such coöperative work is certain to have a helpful and far-reaching effect on any community.

Plate X.

Fig. 11.—An illustration of “Corn Sunday,"” as instituted by Superintendent Jessie Field, Clarinda, Iowa, in the rural churches thereabout.

[Pg 97]

Spiritualize child life

Above all things else, let the country church be reorganized with reference to the interests of the young. Let the minister and the other leaders take a firm stand for a square deal for the farm boys and girls in respect to work and play and sociability. Let them place before country parents clear, concrete models and methods as to how to accord fair treatment to the children in every particular thing. Let them organize the young people of the community into groups for play and sociability and direct them in both of these matters.

It is high time we were considering all of our legitimate interests as a part of our religion. Indeed, there is no good reason why the young people could not meet together at the rural church and on the same evening have an oyster supper and a prayer meeting. They could very consistently discuss and participate in both a temporal and a spiritual affair on the same occasion and in such a way that each part of the program would be vitalized by the others. And likewise the smaller children. It should not be considered at all irreverent for one to go directly with them to the playground after the Sunday school lesson is ended and there lead and direct them in their health-giving enjoyments. Try this in your rural-church society centers and see if the boys and girls do not run with great enthusiasm to the whole affair.

[Pg 98]One great error committed by many of us in the past is that of regarding work and things as arbitrarily high or low. But the author does not see why plowing corn may not be made just as sacred and just as divine a calling as preaching the gospel, provided the former be regarded in the light of service of some high spiritual purpose; as indeed it may be. So, here is a distinctive part of the function of the rural church; namely, to spiritualize work as well as workers—to urge upon the attention of the rural inhabitants the thought that their work must all be regarded as a means to the transformation of the community life and of each individual life into a thing of transcendent worth and beauty.

A summary

Now, here is the proposed plan in a nutshell. The country community is the best place in the world for bringing up a sturdy race of men and women and the country church is or can be made one of the greatest agencies in the achievement of this work. But such achievement can best be brought about only when the country church goes to work to save the whole boy and the whole girl. And that means that the church must understand better how human life grows up—that it must meet these growing boys and girls on their own level of everyday interest and socialize and spiritualize these interests through close contact with them. Then, make the rural church a[Pg 99] social center for the young, including exercises in work and play and recreation, as well as a place for religious instruction. The child is a creature of activity and not of passivity. You cannot preach him into the kingdom in a lifetime; but you can get down with him and work with him and play with him and guide and direct him through his self-chosen, everyday interests, to the end that he may afterwards enter the ranks of the Lord’s anointed.

Again, it is urged, make your country church a center for the entire life of the community. Not only have the adults bring their practical affairs to this center for consideration, but have the boys and girls come with their implements of work and play, with their specimens of farm and home produce and handiwork, with their miniature menageries and workshops—all this with joy and reverence before and after the religious services.


Efficient Democracy. W. H. Allen. Chapter X. “Efficiency in Religious Work.” Dodd, Mead & Co.

Rural Christendom. Charles Roads. Prize Essay. American Sunday-School Union, Philadelphia.

Report of the Commission on Country Life, pp. 137-144, Sturgis-Walton Co.

The Country Church and the Library. John Cotton Dana. Outlook, May 6, 1911.

The Country Church and the Rural Problem. Kenyon L. Butterfield. University of Chicago Press. A strong presentation of the entire situation.

[Pg 100]

The Rural Church and Community Development. President Kenyon L. Butterfield. The Association Press, New York. A collection of practical papers and discussions on several important topics.

The Day of the Country Church. J. O. Ashenhurst. Funk & Wagnalls Co., New York. Read especially the excellent chapter on “Leadership."”

The Church and the Rural Community. Symposium. American Journal of Sociology. March, 1911.

Philanthropy, A Trained Profession. Lewis. Forum, March, 1910.

Rural Manhood. The Association Press, New York Monthly. This magazine publishes many excellent articles on the Rural Church.

The Inefficient Minister. Literary Digest, April 10, 1909. A report of the criticisms of Dr. Henry S. Pritchett, of the Carnegie Foundation, and Dr. Henry Aked, of San Francisco.

World’s Work, December, 1910. An interesting account of Reverend Matthew McNutt’s work in building up a country church.

The Country Church. George F. Wells, in Cyclopedia of American Agriculture, by L. H. Bailey, volume IV, page 297.

[Pg 101]



The country districts are slowly waking up to an appreciation of the fact that within their bounds lie, not only all the elements fundamental to the material wealth of the world, but that they also contain in a more or less dormant form all the essential factors of intellectual and spiritual wealth. The rural school is theoretically the best place on earth for the education of the child, not only because of its close proximity to the sources of material wealth, but because of the openness and comparative freedom of its surroundings. Then, the country school is especially effective as a place of instruction on account of its happy relation to work and industry. Too often the boys and girls of the town school go unwillingly to their class rooms with the feeling that the lessons are heavily imposed tasks.

But in the typical country school the pupils are young persons who have already experienced much of the strain of work and who go somewhat eagerly to the schoolroom, because it is in a sense recreative to them, and because of their being in a position to see[Pg 102] more clearly what substantial training is to mean to them in the future. That is to say, a distinctive difference between the typical country child and the typical city child is this: the former believes that he is pursuing the course of instruction in a more voluntary spirit and for the sake of his own personal interests and up-building, while the latter is inclined to feel that he is performing the school tasks for the sake of some one else and because of the strict requirements of outside force or law.

Radical changes in the view-point and method

But if the theoretic worth of the rural school is to be made at all actual, some very radical changes in view-point and method must come to pass. First of all, we must keep asking the question, What is education for? And perhaps we must accept the answer that in its best form education serves the higher needs and requirements of the life we are trying to live to-day. In case of rural teachers and parents it has been too common a practice to urge the child on in his lesson-getting with the statement, or at least the suggestion, that lessons well mastered in time furnish a guarantee of a life of comparative ease and freedom from heavy toil. The sermonette preached to the boy in this situation is too often substantially as follows: “Go on, my boy, master your lessons, pass up through the grades, and be graduated. Behold So and So, a great captain of[Pg 103] wealth, and such and such a one, a great statesman. Now, these persons are in a position to take life easy. They have wealth to spend for the employment of labor and need to do little of such thing themselves.”

In other words, the view-point of the school has been radically wrong. We have been advancing the idea that education enables one to get out of work, whereas we should have been urging that education of the right sort enables one to get into work. That is, it means enlarged capacity for work and service and proportionately enlarged joy and contentment in the performance of worthy work of any nature whatsoever. Let rural parents once inculcate the last-named point of view upon their growing boys and girls and the attitude of the latter toward the school and its tasks will be likewise radically changed.

All have a right to culture

And then, a second question we need to ask ourselves is, Whom is education for? or, What classes should have the benefits of it? A close comparison of the school ideals of twenty-five years ago with the most progressive ones of to-day reveals a surprising situation. Without seemingly realizing the fact, we continued for generations in this country to tax ourselves heavily for the purpose of supporting schools almost exclusively in behalf of the so-called[Pg 104] professional classes. We said, especially to the growing boy: “Now, if you wish to become a lawyer, a physician, a minister, or a teacher, here is your opportunity. Pursue this well-arranged course, finish it up, and that all at our expense. But if you wish to become a farmer, a merchant, a craftsman of any sort, then this institution is not at your service. We will teach you to read and write and cipher, after which you may look out for yourself.” Thus we were taxing the masses for the exclusive education of a few classes. To-day the best ideal is a radically different one, as it attempts to serve all worthy classes and vocations through the school administration. It assumes that artisans as well as artists and the professional classes have the same inherent right to both the practical aid and the direct culture which an educational course may furnish.

As a practical result of this new ideal, now rapidly advancing throughout the country, we are about to have an age of cultured farmers, high-minded stock raisers, refined architects and builders, and so on. That is, our newest and best educational courses are beginning to provide the means and opportunities for the education of all worthy classes. So it behooves all interested rural parents to turn their best efforts toward the transformation and the betterment of the country school. Certain specific achievements in relation thereto are now being planned for and in many instances accomplished. Let every one con[Pg 105]cerned take notice of this situation and join with all possible earnestness in the forward movement.

In his instructive monograph entitled “Changing Conceptions of Education,” Professor E. P. Cubberley states the new ideal as follows:—

“The school is essentially a time- and labor-saving device, created—with us—by democracy to serve democracy’s needs. To convey to the next generation the knowledge and the accumulated experience of the past is not its only function. It must equally prepare the future citizen for the to-morrow of our complex life. The school must grasp the significance of its social connections and relations, and must come to realize that its real worth and its hope of adequate reward lie in its social efficiency. There are many reasons for believing that this change is taking place rapidly at present, and that an educational sociology, needed as much by teachers to-day as an educational psychology, is now in the process of being formulated for our use.”

Work for a longer term

One of the first steps toward a more helpful schooling for the country youth is that of lengthening the yearly school term. In many thousands of instances, the country school is conducted for only three to five months during the year, and even this short term is indifferently attended. But the actual length of the year should be seven months or more. Many of the[Pg 106] country districts can easily provide for eight months. The farmer should not concern himself about a small additional tax, but should have in mind rather the larger additional gain to the well-being of the young in the community. If the local tax be not sufficient for supporting a longer term and a better school, then seek to have laws authorizing the distribution of state aid to the weaker districts. This law has been actually passed in a number of the commonwealths. The act in the usual case provides a general school fund out of which the deficit for the smaller rural districts may be made up.

Compulsory attendance laws needed

The far-seeing country dweller will be glad to join in a movement in behalf of compulsory attendance at the public schools. Already a number of states have enacted fairly good laws on this subject, but some of them allow “loopholes” providing for the too easy avoidance of their requirements. Perhaps the best and most effective type of law of this class is that which requires the child under fourteen years of age to attend the entire term of the public schools, allowing for his absence only in case of sickness or in cases where it is shown upon investigation and beyond question that he is the main support and breadwinner of a family.

In connection with the legal requirements for compulsory attendance, there must, of course, be provi[Pg 107]sion for the truant. Truant officers, who may be required to serve only part time and who may receive pay for actual services, are set over specified districts and required to bring in all truant school children. Although this compulsory attendance law has been in force only a few years, reports show an almost unanimous belief in its effectiveness. The reader will understand the justification of such a law to be this; namely, the inherent right of the child to be educated whether he may appreciate such right or advantage or not, and the implied right of the community to have his best service as a well-educated member of society. The effects upon crime and criminality of the neglect of the education of the young have been so thoroughly discussed of late as to require no restatement here.

Better schoolhouses and equipment

A survey of the entire country from one side to another reveals a deplorable state of affairs in respect to the conditions of the typical rural schoolhouse. In thousands of cases, there is nothing more than a dingy, little, old one-room building, scarcely suitable as a place wherein to shelter chickens or pigs, and with nothing in the surroundings to suggest or even hint at a place where young minds are taught how to aim at the high things of life. Now, these crude structures were once a necessity. In pioneer days the little, old box schoolhouse, or even the sod[Pg 108] structure, served a mighty purpose in the transformation of the plains and the wilderness. But times are now radically changed. The wealth of the country is abundant. Improvements of nearly every other sort have gone on as the times advanced. But too often the little, old cheap schoolhouse on the bleak country slope became a fixed habit. In setting forth plans for a newer and better country school building, the author cannot improve upon those prepared by E. T. Fairchild, State Superintendent of Public Instruction in Kansas, and published in his Seventeenth Biennial Report. We therefore quote as follows:—

1. Location.—“In selecting a site for a school building, the questions of drainage, convenience, beauty of surroundings, and accessibility should have prime consideration. Select, if possible, some plat of ground slightly elevated, and of which the surface may be properly drained and kept free from mud. It should be especially seen to that water may not stand under the building. If the elevation is not sufficient, this trouble should be overcome by proper filling in beneath the building. The location should be as nearly as possible central with reference to the pupils of the district. But other things should also be considered. It is better that some pupils should be put to a slight disadvantage than that attractiveness of surroundings, remoteness from environment likely to interfere with the[Pg 109] work of the school, or other essentials, should be sacrificed.”

Plate XI.

Fig. 12.—A cozy little country schoolhouse in the tall, picturesque woods of California.
Fig. 13.—This model country school building, planned by State Superintendent E. T. Fairchild, of Kansas, is being copied in many places.

2. The water supply.—The purity of the water supply for the school is no less important from the standpoint of health than that of the air supply. The greatest danger lies in the use of water taken from wells that are used only a portion of the year. Such water is certain to become stagnant. In the autumn before the term commences special care should be taken to pump all water out of the well and to clean the same if necessary; thereby much sickness may be avoided. The well, of course, should be so located as to avoid any contamination owing to vaults or drains.

3. Size and adaptation of grounds.—The school grounds should contain at least three acres, and five acres would not be too much. While the cities are cramped for playgrounds and purchase them only at a high cost, the latter can be secured in the country in sufficient size and at a relatively small expense. Let it be kept constantly in mind that the school grounds should be adapted for play, that they should afford a protection from winds, and that they should also be attractive. They should likewise be adapted for school gardening and experiments in agriculture. For the purpose of play, the breadth should exceed the depth where there are separate grounds for boys and girls. Where the playground is large, the building should be centrally located with relation to the[Pg 110] size of the grounds and should be situated well toward the front. This will provide two fair-sized and well-proportioned playgrounds. Where the grounds are small and contain but one acre, symmetry must yield to utility and the building should be located well to the front and to one side, so as to leave one well-arranged playground.

4. Improvement of school grounds.—In writing of the value of well-arranged school grounds, Professor Albert Dickens of the Kansas State Agricultural College says:—

“This sermon on school ground improvement is one that I have tried to preach for some time. In my judgment, it is the most important and the most difficult of any of the problems in civic improvement. The average country cemetery is sorrowfully neglected, as a rule, but its treatment is careful and generous compared with the school grounds of the average country district. Some day we shall realize that all these factors of environment are formative influences, and shall not wonder that the character formed in surroundings devoid of beauty has hard, coarse, and cruel lines in its make-up.

“It is an easy matter to picture an ideal country school—its clean-swept walk to the road, its ample playground, its windbreak of evergreens, its groups of hard- and soft-wood species, borders of shrubs and beds of bulbs for early spring and perennials for summer and fall. But to get it—to find some way to[Pg 111] overcome the serious obstacles—is worthy the attention of statesmen and club women.

“Nearly every district has made an attempt. That is one of the hard things to forget—one of the reasons so many districts fear to try again. They had a spasm of civic righteousness—an Arbor Day revival—and every patron dug a hole in the hard, dry ground; every child brought a tree, some of which were carried for miles with the roots exposed to sun and wind—and then they were planted and, in some cases, watered for the summer; and the days grew warm and the weeds grew high; and by the next fall the two or three trees yet alive were not noticed when the director went over with his mower the Friday before school opened; and so ended that attempt at a schoolyard beautiful.

“It ought to be possible to convince the patrons of every district that a single acre of land is not sufficient ground upon which to grow big, bright, broad-minded boys and girls; that two, or three, or four acres of land, well planned as to baseball diamond, basketball court and a good free run for dare-base and pull-away—that such would give the state and the world better results than if the land were devoted to corn and alfalfa. This, I believe, is the first problem of great magnitude—to get the ground—and it must be considered. Children must play. The noon hour, when they eat for five minutes and play fifty-five minutes, is all-important in a child’s life.”

[Pg 112]In order to carry out the suggestions given by Professor Dickens, why not organize a general rally, perhaps on the occasion of Arbor Day, and all hands join in preparing and planting the school grounds to suitable shade trees, shrubs, and the like? The playgrounds could also be laid out and equipped on this occasion. Then, after this excellent start has been made, have the school board appoint some reliable man as caretaker of the grounds with payment of reasonable wages for what he does. Thus the good beginning will not be lost.

A model rural school

The State Normal School at Kirksville, Missouri, has built and equipped a model rural school for use in practical demonstration work. President John R. Kirk gives a detailed description of this building in Successful Farming (April, 1911) as follows:—

“This schoolhouse has three principal floors. The basement and main floor are the same size, 28 × 36 feet, outside measurement. The basement measures 8 feet from floor to ceiling. Its floor is of concrete, underlaid with porous tile and cinders. The basement walls are of rock and concrete, protected by drain tile on outside. The basement has eight compartments.

Plate XII.

Fig. 14.—The model rural school building, as constructed for practice and demonstration work at the Kirkville (Missouri) Normal School.

“1. Furnace room, containing furnace inclosed by galvanized iron, also double cold air duct with electric fan, also gas water heater.

[Pg 113]“2. Coal bin, 6 × 8 feet.

“3. Bulb or plant room, 3 × 8 feet, for fall, winter, and spring storage.

“4. Darkroom, 4 × 8 feet, for children’s experiments in photography.

“5. Laundry room, 5 × 21 feet, with tubs, drain, and drying apparatus.

“6. Gymnasium or play room, 13 × 23 feet.

“7. Tank room containing a 400-gallon pneumatic pressure tank, storage battery for electricity, hand pump for emergencies, water gauge, sewer pipes, floor drain, etc.

“8. Engine room, containing gasoline engine, water pump, electrical generator, switchboard, water tank for cooling gasoline engine, weight for gas pressure, gas mixer, batteries, pipes, wires, etc.

“The pumps lift water from a well into pressure tank through pipes below the frost line. Gasoline is admitted through pipes below the frost line from two 50-gallon tanks underground, 30 feet from building. All rooms are wired for electricity and plumbed for gas. The basement is thoroughly ventilated.

“The main floor contains a school room 22 × 27 feet in the clear, lighted wholly from the north side. A ground glass in the rear admits sunlight for sanitation. Schoolroom has adjustable seats and desks, telephone, and teachers’ desk. Stereopticon is hung in wall at rear. Alcove or closet on east side for books, teachers’ wraps, etc. Schoolroom has a[Pg 114] small organ, ample book cases, shelves, and apparatus. Pure air enters from above children’s heads and passes out at floor into ventilating stack through fireplace.

“Main floor has two toilet rooms, each of these having lavatories, wash bowl with hot and cold water, pressure tank for hot water and for heat, shower bath with hot and cold water, ventilating apparatus, looking glass, towel rack, soap box, etc. Each toilet room is reached by a circuitous passageway furnishing room for children’s wraps, overshoes, etc. The scheme secures absolute privacy in toilet rooms. All toilet room walls contain air chambers to deaden sound. The toilet rooms are clean, decent, and beautiful. They are never disfigured with vile language or other defacement.

“All rural schoolhouses with the comb of the roof running one way have attics, but the attic of this rural school is the first one and the only one that has been well utilized. This attic is 15 × 35 feet, inside measurement, all in one room; distance from floor to ceiling 7½ feet in the middle part. It is abundantly lighted through gable lights and roof lights. It contains modern manual-training benches for use of eight or ten children at one time, a gas range and other apparatus for experimental cooking. It is furnished with both gas and electric light. It has a wash bowl with hot and cold water, looking glass, towels, etc. It has a large typical kitchen sink and a [Pg 115]drinking fountain, but no drinking cup, either common or uncommon. It has cupboards, boxes, and receptacles for various experiments in home economics. It has a disinfecting apparatus, a portable agricultural-chemistry laboratory and numerous other equipments.

Plate XIII.

Fig. 15.—A rear view of the model rural school building at the Kirkville Normal.

“A rural school can be built here from beginning to completion with all the above-mentioned equipments of every kind, including furniture, for $2250. The heating and ventilating apparatus, the pressure tanks, gasoline engine, water pumps, dynamo, furnace, etc., can all be easily adapted to a two-room model, a three-room school, or a six-room school by having each fixture slightly larger.

“This model therefore solves the schoolbuilding question for villages, towns, and consolidated rural schools.”

The Cornell schoolhouse

An attractive rural schoolhouse was erected some years ago at the New York State College of Agriculture, to serve as a suggestion architecturally and otherwise to rural districts. It is a one-teacher building, and yet allows for the introduction of the new methods of teaching. It is a wooden building, with cement stucco interior, heated with hot-air furnace, and with two water toilets attached. The total cost was about $2000. The College writes as follows of the house:—

[Pg 116]“The prevailing rural schoolhouse is a building in which pupils sit to study books. It ought to be a room in which pupils do personal work with both hands and mind. The essential feature of this new schoolhouse, therefore, is a workroom. This room occupies one-third of the floor space. Perhaps it would be better if it occupied two-thirds of the floor space. If the building is large enough, however, the two kinds of work could change places in this schoolhouse.

“The building is designed for twenty-five pupils in the main room. The folding doors and windows in the partition enable one teacher to manage both rooms.

“It has been the purpose to make the main part of the building about the size of the average rural schoolhouse, and then to add the workroom as a wing or projection. Such a room could be added to existing school buildings; or, in districts in which the building is now too large, one part of the room could be partitioned off as a workroom.

“It is the purpose, also, to make this building artistic, attractive, and homelike to children, sanitary, comfortable, and durable. The cement-plaster exterior is handsomer and warmer than wood, and on expanded metal lath it is durable. The interior of this building is very attractive. Nearly any rural schoolhouse can secure a water-supply and instal toilets as part of the school building.

[Pg 117]“The openings between schoolroom and workroom are fitted with glazed swing sash and folding doors, so that the rooms may be used either singly or together, as desired.

“The workroom has a bay-window facing south and filled with shelves for plants. Slate blackboards of standard school heights fill the spaces about the rooms between doors and windows. The building is heated by hot air; vent flues of adequate sizes are also provided so that the rooms are ventilated.

“On the front of the building, and adding materially to its picturesque appearance, is a roomy veranda with simple square posts, from which entrance is made directly into the combined vestibule and coatroom and from this again by two doors into the schoolroom.”

Help make a school play ground

Throughout the entire country there is at last rising a wave of enthusiasm in behalf of affording the child a better means of play. First the cities took the matter up, then the towns, and now the country districts are beginning to do their part. The farmer and his wife should feel an interest in such a matter, for they can render no better service to their community than that of joining the district teacher in an effort to equip the school grounds with play apparatus. As a suggestive outline of what materials to procure, the dimensions and cost of the same, there is given[Pg 118] below the equipment worked out by certain officials in Colorado and described briefly in Superintendent Fairchild’s report, as follows:—

A turning pole for boys may be made by setting two posts in the ground, six or eight feet apart, and running a 1 or 1¼ inch gas pipe through holes bored in the tops of the posts. The cost of such a piece of apparatus should be as follows, assuming that the necessary work will be done by the teachers and boys: Two posts, 4″ × 4″, 8 ft. long, 50 cents; one piece gas pipe, 8 ft. long, 15 cents.

Teeter boards may be made by planting posts ten or twelve feet apart, and placing a pole or a rounded 6 × 6 on top of them, and then placing boards, upon which the children may teeter. Individual teeter boards may be made by placing a 2 × 8 board in the ground, and fastening the teeter board to it by means of iron braces placed on each side of the upright piece. The cost of the above apparatus would be, for several teeters: Two upright posts, 6″ × 6″, 5 ft. long, 93 cents; one piece, 6″ × 6″, 12 ft. long, $1.22; four teeter boards, 2″ × 8″, 14 ft. long, $2.50. For individual teeter: One piece 2″ × 8″, 16 ft. long, 56 cents—to make upright piece 4 ft. long and teeter board 12 ft. long; two iron braces and four large screws, 25 cents.

A very attractive and desirable piece of apparatus may be made as follows: Secure a pole about ten or fifteen feet long. To the small end attach by the use of[Pg 119] bolts one end of a wagon axle, spindle up. Upon the spindle place a wagon wheel, and to the wheel attach ropes, about as long as the pole. Place the big end of the pole in the ground three or four feet, and brace it from the four points of the compass. The ropes will hang down from the wheel in such a way that the children may take hold of them, swing, jump, and run around the pole. The one described was rather inexpensive. A telephone company donated a discarded pole, a farmer a discarded wagon wheel and axle. The only expense was that of paying a blacksmith for attaching the wheel to the pole and the cost of the ropes—about $2. It furnished one of the most attractive pieces of apparatus on the playground.

An inexpensive swing may be constructed by placing four 4 × 4’s in the ground in a slanting position, two being opposite each other and meeting at the top in such a way as to form a fork. The pairs may be ten or twelve feet apart, and a pole or heavy galvanized pipe, to which swings may be attached, wired, nailed, or bolted to the crotches formed by the pieces placed in the ground. The cost of this apparatus will be: Four pieces, 4″ × 4″, 14 ft. long, $1.25, one piece galvanized pipe, 3″, 12 ft. long, $2.50.

Boards of education could well afford to purchase one or more basketballs, and a few baseballs and bats for the boys. These things more than pay for themselves in the added interest which boys and girls who[Pg 120] have them take in the school. For much of the apparatus suggested above the wide-awake board of education and teacher will see opportunities to use material less expensive than that suggested. And to such persons many pieces of apparatus not specified here will suggest themselves to fit particular needs and opportunities.

General instruction in agriculture

A great fault with the district schools has been an inclination to think that anything close at hand is too mean and common to be considered as subject matter for instruction. The thought has usually been that the school would prepare the learner for some brilliant calling away off where things are better and life is easier and more beautiful. As a result, the country schools have been educating boys and girls away from the farm. The new method is that of educating them to appreciate what is under their feet and all around them, through an intimate knowledge of the processes of nature and industry as carried on in their midst.

Plate XIV.

Fig. 16.—Using the Babcock milk-tester in a New York school.

One of the more direct means of educating the boys and girls for a happy, contented life on the farm is to teach them while young the rudiments of agriculture. This method is now actually being put into practice in thousands of the rural schools. The state of Kansas recently enacted a law requiring all candidates for teachers’ certificates to pass a test in [Pg 121]the elements of agriculture and also requiring that the rudiments of this subject be taught in every district school. Other states have similar laws. As a result of this and like provisions, there is now a tremendous awakening in the direction named. The boys and girls in the country schools are finding new meaning and a new interest in the fields and farms upon which they are growing up.

It is a comparatively simple matter, that of teaching the young how the plant germinates and grows, how the seed is produced, and how farm crops are cared for and harvested. Likewise, it is easy to describe the elements of the various types of soil and to show how these elements contribute to the life and growth of the plant. The questions of moisture in its relation to plant life, of insects harmful and helpful to growing crops and animals, of the bird life as related in its economic aspects to farming—all such matters can be easily taught to children by the young-woman school teacher. It is only necessary for the latter to take an elementary course of instruction herself, to read a number of collateral texts, and to get into the spirit of the undertaking. In a similar manner, instruction in regard to farm animals may be given, the emphasis being placed upon the consideration of the types of live stock actually raised and marketed in the home neighborhood.

It must be emphasized that these matters relating to elementary agriculture and animal husbandry[Pg 122] can be made just as interesting and quite as cultural as any of the subjects in the general curriculum of the schools. Wherefore, the rural dweller who catches the spirit of such instruction should lead out in the securing of public measures and public improvements looking toward an early embodiment of these new subjects within the prescribed course of study.

Domestic economy and home sanitation

The time is now at hand when the district school failing to give any attention to practical household affairs is to be classed as out of date and unprogressive. Well-written texts and pamphlets covering the home-keeping subjects are now both available and cheap, so that the excuse for deferring their use is approaching the zero point.

Of course it is impracticable as yet to have apparatus for cooking and sewing installed in the one-teacher district school, but the bare rudiments of these subjects may nevertheless be taught with the expectation that home practice may be thereby improved and better understood. Perhaps the most practical method of present procedure is that of organizing an independent class of the girls of suitable age and meeting them informally. The texts and pamphlets furnished by the college extension departments may be followed. In case of graded and high school courses this work should by all means be carried on as a regular class exercise.

[Pg 123]Home sanitation may easily and profitably be taught in the district school, even though only one or two periods per week be set apart for the purpose. Perhaps the best method of instruction is that of presenting carefully one specific lesson at a time. For example, pure drinking water, clean milk, food contamination by house flies may be treated each in its turn. Adequate charts and illustrations should be brought into service.

Consolidation of rural schools

There is much agitation nowadays in regard to consolidating the rural schools. Although present progress is slow, it seems comparatively certain that the one-teacher rural school is destined in time to become a thing of the past. However, there is no particular haste in the matter, provided some such plans as the foregoing be put into effect in case of the single school. Perhaps the sparsely settled district has the greatest justification for looking toward consolidation. It happens that there are thousands of small schools having an attendance of from five to ten pupils. In such an instance, it is practically impossible to do the best work, the children lacking the spur of rivalry and enthusiasm and the helpful lessons in social ethics offered only by the larger massing of the young at play.

In many places, three or four rural districts are uniting in this movement, the general plan being[Pg 124] that of constructing a central building with ample working space for all, and then transporting the children to and from the school. The scheme is working well as a rule. Among the great advantages is that of a possible grading of the school so that the teacher may have time for each subject and more opportunity for specialization. Perhaps the most serious and difficult part of the plan is that of providing a safe and suitable means of conveyance to and from the school. Some excellent patterns of school wagons are already on the market, while manufacturers are constantly at work improving them. So we may expect better results as time goes on. It has already been shown very satisfactorily that the conveyance, when in charge of a well-trained driver, furnishes improved moral and physical safeguards for the child.

More high schools needed

Not only every county, but also every rural township, should have its well-equipped high school. It is a serious matter to send boys and girls in their middle teens away to college. Many lives are thus more or less ruined simply from too early loss of the personal restraints and influence of the parents. But with a first-class high school in easy reach the young people may at least return home for the Saturday-Sunday recess and thereby continue in the close councils of their parents. And then, the[Pg 125] rightly-managed high school will bring the student into closer touch with the local rural problems that may not be possible in case of the distant institution.

Plate XV.

Figs. 17-21.—This magnificent consolidated school in Winnebago County, Illinois, was inspired by the excellent work of the well-known Superintendent O. J. Kern. The four little one-room buildings illustrated above gave way to it.

In the location of high schools intended to serve the rural interests there should be an effort to keep away from the towns and cities. In the latter places the allurements of the cheap theater and the snobbery that often invades the city high school are illustrations of the evils that serve to entice the young away from the substantial things of life. A good county or township high school located centrally and in the open country is ideal. At such a location it is vastly easier than in the city to center the attention of the students upon the rural problems, not to mention the greater availability of demonstrations on farm and garden plots.

Better rural teachers needed

The ideal preparation for a teacher in the rural school is a complete course in a first-class agricultural college, with the inclusion of a few terms’ work in the educational subjects. So long as we send into the district schools young teachers who have been taught merely in the common text-book branches, and whose training has been exclusively pedagogical, the practice of educating the boys and girls away from the farm will go on. The country school is, in its best sense, an industrial school; and only those teachers can do best work therein who have had the personal[Pg 126] experience in industrial training and the changed point of view which only the agricultural college can give. So if the board of trustees in any rural district really wishes to unite in supporting an effective back-to-the-farm movement, let them offer to some country-reared graduate of the agricultural college a salary of about twice or three times the amount usually paid. After a few terms of school taught by such a person, the good effects on the rural uplift will most certainly reveal themselves. But so long as school trustees continue to try to drive a sharp bargain in the employment of teachers—securing the one with the passable county certificate who will teach for the least wages—the boys will continue to run off to town for “jobs” and the parents will continue to “move to town to educate their children.”

There is some hope of a new ideal in relation to the country school teacher; namely, that he shall be a man in every sense, worthy of a salary large enough to support himself and his family the year round as residents of the community. Then we shall have a profession of teaching in the rural school work.

Plate XVI.

Fig. 22.—The Cornell schoolhouse. A one-teacher building, with a workroom or laboratory at one side that the teacher can control through the folding doors and glass partitions. Every effort is made to render the building and place attractive and homelike.


Annual Report Page County (Iowa) Schools. Miss Jessie Field, Superintendent (Clarinda).

The reader who is especially interested in this chapter is urged to become acquainted with the splendid work accomplished for the district[Pg 127] schools of Page County, Ia., by Superintendent Jessie Field. As indicated by her published annuals, and otherwise, she has led all the other young women superintendents in the work of organizing the boys and girls into clubs and classes for the study of school gardening, bread making, grain propagation, and the like.

Report of the Committee on Industrial Education in Schools for Rural Communities, of the National Educational Association.

Among Country Schools. O. J. Kern. Ginn & Co. A clear helpful, and inspiring text.

The American Rural School. H. W. Foght. Macmillan. Covers the entire subject carefully.

The School and Society. John Dewey. McClure, Phillips & Co., New York.

The School and its Life. Charles D. Gilbert. Chapter XXII, “Home and School.” McClurg.

Efficient Democracy, Wm. H. Allen. Chapter VII, “School Efficiency.” Dodd, Mead & Co. A most helpful and stimulating volume.

The School as a Social Institution. Henry Suzzallo. Monograph. Houghton Mifflin Company.

Wider Use of the School Plant, Clarence Arthur Perry. Chapter VI, “School Playgrounds.” Charities Publication Committee, New York.

Education in the Country for the Country. J. W. Zeller. Annual Volume N.E.A., 1910, p. 245.

Teachers for the Rural Schools; Kind Wanted; How to secure Them. L. J. Alleman. Annual Volume N.E.A., 1910, p. 280.

The State Board of Health of Maine (Augusta) issues a series of practical pamphlets on health and sanitation in the school and the home.

The Most Practical Industrial Education for the Country Child. Superintendent O. J. Kern. Annual Volume N.E.A., 1905, p. 198.

Among School Gardens. M. Louise Green, Ph.D. Charities Publication Committee, New York.

A Model Rural School House. Henry S. Curtis. Educational Foundations, April, 1911. A. S. Barnes & Co. Dr. Curtis is a national authority on the question of the school playground.

Education for Efficiency. E. Davenport. D. C. Heath. A most able plea for making the schools serve every worthy interest.

[Pg 128]

Changing Conceptions of Education. E. P. Cubberly. Monograph. Houghton Mifflin Company.

Methods of conducting Book and Demonstration Work in teaching Elementary Agriculture. O. H. Benson. Bureau of Plant Industry, Washington, D.C. An excellent guide.

Report of Committee to investigate Rural School Conditions. Superintendent E T. Fairchild and others. Address the Secretary N.E.A., Winona, Minn.

[Pg 129]



Among the movements of first importance looking toward the uplift of young men is that named at the head of this chapter. Parallel with the intensive and systematic effort to build up the commercial life of the city and allow the country district to take care of itself, has been a like effort to provide for the care and development of the city boy and the uniform neglect of the needs and interests of the country boy. Now, here at last is a movement that is proving a real means of salvation of the rural youth, mind, body, and soul.

President Henry J. Waters, of the Kansas State Agricultural College, struck the keynote of this young country-life movement most effectively in a recent address when he said: “We believe in the existence of a social renaissance. One needs only to read the daily and weekly papers printed in hundreds of prosperous villages and cross roads corners, the faithful chroniclers of the community’s activities, to find buoyant hope of the future of farm life.

[Pg 130]“The dignity of labor; the close connection between heads and hands; the monthly or weekly meetings of farmers’ institutes in hundreds of counties; the special lectures provided by agricultural colleges; the movable schools; the farmers’ winter short courses, in which thousands of men and women and boys and girls participate; corn contests; bread contests; sewing contests; play carnivals; poultry-raising contests; stock-raising contests; conferences on the country church, country school, good roads—all these activities denote the growth of a new and mighty spirit in the country life of America.

“We need further demonstrations, together with concrete thinking, a lot of constructive programs, and a deal of hard work and self-sacrifice, in which the county work department of the Young Men’s Christian Association can have no little share, to speed on the great epoch of rural social renaissance.”

Boys leave the farm too young

It is a tragic story when the whole truth is known, that of the young boy running off to town in search of some employment that will bring him a little ready cash for spending money, and also in search of the sociability so woefully lacking in the rural home environment. Too long have the country parents attempted to argue and scold and force their boys to remain at home where they are confronted only with the monotony of hard work and a very dim[Pg 131] prospect of a possible land or other property inheritance. So at last there is being raised the very important questions, What is the matter with the country boy? and What can be done to help him? Knowledge of the fact that more than one-half of the boys of the United States are living in farm homes makes the problem of their individual salvation assume momentous proportions.

There can be no reasonable thought of holding all the boys on the farm. Many of them are best fitted by nature to go elsewhere and find suitable employment, but there is every good reason for preventing the great exodus of immature youths who run off to the cities, not knowing what they are to face and without any well-defined purpose. Yes, the great concerns of the towns and cities must continue to call many of the brainiest young men from the rural districts. In fact, the country may with every good reason be considered the proper breeding ground for the virile minds destined to control the great affairs of nation, state, and municipality. But every reasonable effort must be put forth to keep the boy in his country home until his character is relatively matured and his plans for a future career are fairly well defined.

Purposes of the County Y.M.C.A.

Doubtless the first chief purpose of the county association is that of building up the boy’s character[Pg 132] and finally perfecting his spiritual nature. But this high aim is not sought in the old-fashioned, direct manner. Instead, there is a studied effort to build up the boy gradually through the enlistment of his natural interests in matters that lie dormant in his home environment. The truly scientific method in this field is first concerned with providing means whereby the boy may work out his own spiritual salvation. Along with the farm labors, tedious and irksome to him when undertaken as exclusive requirements, the country boy is given an opportunity to take part in certain athletic and social exercises which appeal to his instincts and arouse the spontaneity from the depths of his own nature.

In carrying on the country work, an attempt is made to approach the boy from the peculiar situations of his home environment. What specific readjustments are needed in his home life in respect to the amount of work required of him? What of the recreation he enjoys? The local society in which he moves? The home church and Sunday school? The temptations that may lie near about him? and so on. These and many other such inquiries are made with a view to dealing with the boy in an individual way and reëstablishing his life for the better.

How to organize a county association

Unless it may chance that, after a brief survey of the field, some person from the outside comes in[Pg 133] to perfect the organization of the county association, any interested person within the limits of the county must make the start. Devotion to the cause, persistence, and unfailing enthusiasm are perhaps the best personal equipment for the local beginner of this new work. His first concern should be that of gathering a committee of men like himself from different parts of the county. Doubtless these will form themselves into a sort of brotherhood committee. After such temporary organization, the next important step is that of securing an able county leader.

Plate XVII.

Fig. 23.—These Y.M.C.A. members find time for play as well as work. Try a club like this as a means of keeping the boy interested in the farm.

1. Choose a good leader.—Now, the success of the movement is to depend very largely upon the character of the leader to be chosen. If the right man be selected, no matter how hard the conditions, he will be able finally to bring system and order and spiritual progress out of it all. The important characteristics of the ideal leader of country boys are comparatively few. First of all, he must, of course, be moved by a sense of devotion to the cause of Christianity—the up-building of the characters, especially the spiritual natures, of young men. He should be a man who has been trained in a good college, if possible a graduate, with experience in the Y.M.C.A. and other like organizations. He should have had some special training in such subjects as psychology, sociology, and economics, and should be fairly well versed in[Pg 134] the literature of these subjects. He should be especially fond of boys and boy life and interested in the conduct of people of every kind and sort. He should be somewhat trained in athletics and an enthusiastic supporter of clean sports. He should have what is known as good business sense. It may not be essential, but it will certainly prove advantageous, if the chosen leader has himself been reared in the country.

2. Local leaders necessary.—After the leader has been selected, the next step is that of the appointment of carefully chosen leaders for the local neighborhoods. These may be men of almost any age from middle life down, but perhaps the ideal age would be that of a few years older than any of the boys of the neighborhood. All must be enlisted if possible, not one being slighted or offended.

3. A committee on finance.—An able finance committee is also of high importance. This should consist of men chosen especially for their unusual ability as solicitors and persuaders of men in a financial way. Let these workers go over the county soliciting funds for the organization, providing from the first especially that the secretary shall be well paid for his services. Close-fisted residents, as well as all others, in every nook and corner of the territory must be seen and asked to contribute. It should be a comparatively easy matter to show men who cannot appreciate the social and spiritual needs[Pg 135] of the boys that the new movement will most certainly increase general property values and bring up the price of land.

4. Little property ownership.—While new, the county organization should guard against attempting to own and control any considerable amount of property or equipment. Not the material goods possessed, but the strength and force of the spiritual enthusiasm will have greatest value in carrying on the work. It will be found quite satisfactory in nearly every case to have the boys meet in some farm home, village club room, or country schoolhouse. And then, there is always danger of developing a Y.M.C.A. too exclusively as a business organization. There are many instances in the towns and cities where this is deplorably true. The best spirit of the work is submerged by the continuous hounding of the people in the skirmish for funds to keep going the over-heavy business machinery of the institution. There often develops, in such cases, a large body of men who regard the Y.M.C.A. as an organization of loafers and easy-going money spenders. Once such sentiment develops, it is desperately difficult to eradicate it. So the country Y.M.C.A. should preserve the semblance of humility, and that partly by getting along with almost no property or equipment other than what its own members may provide in a crude fashion and what may be necessary to furnish the office of the general secretary.

[Pg 136]

How to conduct the work

One of the first steps in conducting the new work is that of making a survey of the entire county. The names, ages, and location of all the boys must be secured, together with some items respecting their present social and religious affiliations. In fact, the more personal items included in the first survey, the better. Some boys will at first look with disfavor upon the new movement, believing that it is merely another scheme to convert them to religion and get them into a church. Care must be taken to disabuse the boy’s mind of this thought from the very beginning. Therefore, it may be well not to try to hustle him into a Bible-study class the first time he is invited out. While the main issue, namely, that of spiritual development of the boy, is not to be forgotten, he must nevertheless be led to this goal through the path of many very common instrumentalities. A Y.M.C.A. athletic meet would most probably prove a better opening number than a Bible-study class or merely a religious service. As the work proceeds, the occasions for a great variety of exercises and programs will present themselves. Among these perhaps there would be the following:—

1. Local and county athletic clubs.—The athletic event is one of the easiest to put on in a newly organized boys’ club. An able leader, perhaps the[Pg 137] county secretary, should be present to preside over the event, inducing the boys to form a baseball club, or a basketball team; or at least to arrange for some event in which they can all participate, although that may be as simple a thing as swimming or jumping. Introduce at once the thought of practice and the development of skill, holding out the plan of a county organization and a county field meet in the future, which all may attend and in which the ablest shall have promise of a conspicuous part.

2. Debating and literary clubs.—There is always the possibility of a literary society, provided the thing be carefully instituted. The secret of successful debates among persons of any class is to find a “burning” question. So, avoid such matters as Tariff Reform and the World Peace Movement and come right down home to some perplexing problem in the lives of the boys of the club. Something about their work, their lack of recreation, their chances against those of city boys, and so on, will arouse interest and bring out rough debating material. Find latent talent of other sorts in the club. Some boy can sing; perhaps another can play a musical instrument; still another one may be a natural-born storyteller; a fourth may be an expert acrobat and tree climber; a fifth a shrewd hunter or trapper of wild animals. In this way, nearly every boy can be led to take part in a general program.

[Pg 138]Thus, while contributing something toward the entertainment of all, each boy’s active participation will go far by way of awakening his personal interest in the new life.

3. Receptions and suppers.—After the boys get fairly under way with their club, they may need to arrange an oyster supper or some such affair at which they will discuss their many mutual problems. On some such occasions they may desire to invite their parents to come and enjoy the program, also to participate in the discussion of their affairs. This form of close association will be found especially enticing to the boys, giving them a good, clean place to go for social enjoyment and something to look forward to in their thoughts during the somewhat prosaic hours of the day in the field.

4. Educational tours and problems.—The boys may find it feasible to go in a body once or twice a year on an educational tour—to the state fair; to study some particular thing in the city; to gather data for the solution of some local problem; to make a study of the habitat of some bird or animal; to gather specimens of rocks or plants; and so on. In case of any such trip there is not a little necessity of some college-trained person as overseer, so that the study may be made intensive and not become dissipated in mere sport and fun. It is usually advisable to make a careful study of only one thing at a time.

Plate XVIII.

Fig. 24—A great Y.M.C.A. Convention in Ohio. Let the boy attend one of these great gatherings if possible, and he will return with a year’s supply of enthusiasm.

[Pg 139]5. Camping and hiking.—The boys of the county should be brought together at least once a year in a summer camp. Farmers will soon learn to appreciate the value of such things in the life of the boy and will gladly allow him a few days’ vacation for the purpose. The boy who enjoys such a privilege will more than pay it back through the extra amount of work his enthusiasm will naturally prompt him to perform. For the camp site there should be selected some shady woodland with a good stream of water for fishing and swimming. A crude lodge may be constructed and all the necessary crude camp equipment provided. Each boy will want to carry his own blanket and extra clothing.

One matter must be considered in all seriousness; namely, the sanitation of the camp. Even at the outlay of a comparatively heavy expense, the camp food supplies, including the dining table, should be screened off from flies. The garbage therefore will all be scrupulously buried, and it will be ascertained with certainty that the drinking water is free from disease organisms. Then, the boys may sleep on the ground, wallow in the dirt, splash in the water and mud as they please and return home in the best of health.

6. Exhibitions.—It has been found practicable to have the boys prepare during the season for coming together with a county exhibit, including a wide variety of things peculiar to their interests.

[Pg 140]This exhibition should be made as a big annual event, if possible, such as will attract all manner of persons and make friends for the county association. In its ideal arrangement the money expense will be kept down to a minimum. Also keep out the idea of premiums. The contest plan of promotion will some day receive its desired consideration and lose its place as a means of promoting social and spiritual well-being. As a matter of fact it fosters much envy, ill-feeling, and bitter strife and thus strikes at the root of the good-fellowship which you are striving to encourage. But, urge every boy to bring something for the sake of the help he may contribute and let the honor of this service and the approbation of his fellows be his high reward.

One boy may come with a mammoth pumpkin; another with a device of his own invention for catching ground squirrels; still another with a new method of tying a knot; another with a bushel of highly bred corn; others with farm and garden produce of the same attractive nature; others with wild grasses, curios, or geological specimens; others with the parts of a miniature menagerie. One boy may have caught a badger alive; another a coyote; another a jack rabbit; another a huge turtle. Another may bring a cage of rattlesnakes or a box full of snakes of all sorts; another a set of original plans and specifications—for an ideal farmhouse, or farm barn and surroundings; for[Pg 141] making the well sanitary; for a milk house; for keeping flies out of the house or barn; a recipe for driving ants and other insects from the house. The boys in one family may come with a lot of samples of soil, showing how differently each must be treated for the same general crop results. Others may bring specimens of “cheat” and noxious weeds, and the like, with a scheme for destroying them. Another may have a plan for a patent churn or a labor-saving device in the kitchen.

Thus there may be brought to the boys’ fair an interesting and most instructive variety of objects, plans, and devices, all looking toward the improvement of home conditions. Such a gathering as this will bring not only the parents and other adults from the home county, but great flocks of outsiders will also come in and learn and become deeply interested in the affairs of the County Young Men’s Christian Association.

Spirituality not lost sight of

It ought to be easy for the average thinker to appreciate the fact that all the foregoing rough-and-ready work in the lives of the boys can be made a practical means of the salvation of their souls as well as of their bodies and intellects. Spiritual perfection is not reached at a bound. There must be much doing of the crude yet worthy things which grow naturally out of his inner nature before the boy[Pg 142] can finally achieve a degree of spiritual development that may prove a permanent and fixed part of his adult life. Yes, there will be some Bible study, an occasional short prayer, and now and then a real sermonette in connection with the work of the organization, but much more frequently the Christian life and character will come as a sort of discovery in the boy’s life and that through his own conduct.

Through all this wholesome exercise of his better and cleaner interests, the youth will gradually be led away and kept away from those things which contaminate both the body and the spirit and introduce the individual to a coarse, debauched life. In other words, Christianity will be a thing achieved and that through the young man’s efforts rather than a thing instantly caught in some emotional revival meeting only gradually to waste away in the months immediately following. One well-built specimen of Christian manhood—a character of the sort which the ideal work of the County Y.M.C.A. may finally construct—is worth a dozen of those suddenly converted men whose secret lives are so often embittered with the consciousness of backsliding and following ever after the old evil ways.

It will be observed at a glance that in the foregoing outline there is an avoidance of the heavier work-a-day tasks and problems. It is the thought of the author that the boys have quite enough of such labor as it is and that the County Y.M.C.A. can do its best serv[Pg 143]ice if it provides a set of new activities of a more recreative sort. The central idea—second to the perfection of his spiritual nature—is that of giving the boy a larger amount of social experience through self-training in matters that will bring out his latent unselfishness and his self-reliance. The heavier problems of an economic sort suitable for discussion among the boys and the girls of the country districts will have due consideration in another chapter.

In planning the various parts of the county work and the club life of the boys, there must be extreme care not to arrange for too many and too frequent meetings. It is especially to be desired that the boy do not acquire the runabout habit, even though he may in every case go to a desirable place. Therefore, in arranging the programs it will be seen to that the meetings are held somewhat infrequently, but that on each occasion the meeting be continued until some intensive work has been done. For example, it would be much preferable to have all or a major part of one afternoon and evening of the week for the exercises rather than to have brief evening meetings a number of times during the week.

Work in a sparsely settled country

The following statement will show what was achieved during the first year in the Y.M.C.A. of Washington County, Kansas, which has a rural population of about ten thousand people.

[Pg 144]

General Statement:—

181 boys enrolled in Bible-study groups, meeting weekly.

35 men give time to the supervision and planning of the work.

236 boys attended ten boys’ banquets.

51 out-of-town delegates attended the county convention.

175 men and boys attended the convention banquet.

161 boys took part in the relay race.

91 men and boys on baseball teams.

24 boys played basketball.

56 men attended 10 leaders’ conferences.

65 men conducted one day financial canvass.

200 boys given physical examination.

26 took part in the annual athletic meet.

13 young men’s Sundays conducted by secretary.

6000 miles (approx.) traveled by secretary.

283 citizens back of work.

Financial Statement:—

Pledges unpaid from previous year$120.25 
Pledges for year1568.25$1688.50
Received during year1386.15 
Due unpaid pledges302.35$1688.50
Amount paid1352.89 
Due unpaid298.00 
Available balance37.61$1688.50

[Pg 145]


Neighborhood Improvement Clubs. Professor E. L. Holton. Agricultural Extension Bulletin, Manhattan, Kan.

Camping for Boys. H. W. Gibson. Association Press, New York. Careful directions for camp life.

Training for Boys; Symposium. Harper’s Bazaar, March, April, August, September, November, 1910.

Keeping Home Ties from Breaking. E. A. Halsey. World To-day, January, 1911.

Training Men to work for Men. E. A. Halsey. World To-day, March, 1911.

The Organization and Administration of Athletics. Dr. Clark W. Hetherington. Annual Volume N.E.A., 1907, p. 930.

Rural Manhood, issue of June, 1910. Rural Leadership Number.

Social Activities for Men and Boys. Albert M. Chisley. Y.M.C.A. Press, New York. A valuable book covering a wide variety of activities.

Rural Manhood. Henry Israel, editor. 50 cents per year. A most valuable exponent of the County Y.M.C.A. work.

The Physical Life of the Boy. Dr. D. G. Wilcox. (Pamphlet.) Address, Federated Boys’ Clubs, Boston.

[Pg 146]



No less urgent and divine is the call for spiritual aid and leadership in the rural districts to-day than was that which came to the apostle Paul of old in form of a vision and a voice crying, “Come over into Macedonia and help us.” In the open country field, far removed from church or social center, is the demand for leaders and directors especially great. Men engage for a lifetime in an enthusiastic endeavor to amass wealth and to build up great business concerns. But the man or woman who heeds the call to go forth into the country districts and save the bodies and souls of the young—that person will not only experience exceeding great joy and enthusiasm in his work, but he will thereby lay up for himself in the memories of the redeemed a precious treasury of golden deeds.

Country parents as a rule are not in a position to do the best things even for their own children, much less to go out as leaders of the young at large. They are sometimes lacking in the necessary means, more frequently too busy, and most frequently not suffi[Pg 147]ciently informed as to be fully awake to the meanings and possibilities of any such undertaking. However, in nearly every country neighborhood there is a man or woman, or both, who possess many of the big opportunities for enlisting in the service of the young. Those who have no small children of their own to care for would naturally be freest to get away from the present home duties. Then, some parents having children of their own not infrequently catch the inspiration and heed the call. At any rate, it is entirely fair and reasonable to assume that some one of the neighborhood could do it were there the disposition.

As a means of arousing any such persons to attempt to do some constructive work among country boys and girls, the following detailed suggestions are offered. Those who feel at all called to undertake this service may be assured that the interest grows more intense with time and effort put forth, and that the joy of accomplishing something in behalf of the young people of one’s own vicinity is perhaps unsurpassed by that of any other type of human endeavor. In the discussions to follow we assume that some farmer and his wife have heeded this divine call.

Preparation for the service

Since very few are sufficiently versatile to undertake any and every kind of social work, perhaps the first step is that of choosing a definite line of action.[Pg 148] And let the choice be in the direction of the chooser’s leading social interest. As a means of preparation for efficient work a brief course of training is to be much commended. It may be found practicable to slip away from home during the winter months and take a farmers’ short course in one of the agricultural colleges. Or, one may find the peculiar instruction and inspiration needed by attending a convention or conference of the ablest leaders representative of the work. One of the rural-life conferences now frequently held might be found ideal. Go prepared to take notes, to ask questions, and especially to obtain a large number of literary references.

The use of helpful literature is most important at this stage. A magazine which admirably covers this particular field is Rural Manhood, published by the Association Press, New York City. Then, secure the report of the Country Life Commission, and a number of the latest works of a similar nature, some of which are listed below. Write to the Department of Agriculture at Washington for their bulletin on the organization of boys’ and girls’ clubs. Also from the extension department of the agricultural college may be obtained for the asking all available literature of this same general class.

Now, make a careful survey of the neighborhood, or the larger field, with a view to finding out the specific conditions in relation to the chosen line of service. Make lists of names and ages of the boys and girls,[Pg 149] including all other data of a helpful nature. Proceed with the thought that the work to be undertaken is not to be merely a means of entertainment, but of education for the young.

Work persistently for social unity

In his most instructive volume “The Rural Church and Community Achievement,” President Butterfield says: “We are in great need in this country of an institution or institutions which have for their definite objective the study of the conditions and problems of farm home-life; not merely the matter of home management, or home keeping, but the fundamental relationships of the family to the development of a better community life in the rural regions.” Now, let the newly enlisted social worker assume that he is to undertake something by way of bringing about a fuller integration and unity of the people of the neighborhood.

Every new worker in the social field needs a word of warning against the rebukes and discouragements with which he may at first meet. To say the best, the neighborhood will doubtless be indifferent in regard to the newly proposed organization. But let the social worker go on persistently, unmindful of any such hindrance, even though scarcely a person in the neighborhood seems ready to join in the movement. In the typical case of valuable constructive work of this sort, it will be found at first that the[Pg 150] masses are practically all opposed to the plan. However, as fast as it wins its way through unrelenting effort and unswerving devotion, the doubters and opposers will come over to its support. And after the movement has established itself reasonably well and achieved something worth while, the same people who once stood out will then fall enthusiastically into line and help with the undertaking.

It will be impossible, of course, to point out definitely to the local, self-appointed leader just what plan of social endeavor to follow. Since there is such a great variety of conditions, it seems advisable here to make a somewhat extended list of possible lines of work in the rural districts.

Corn-raising and bread-baking clubs

Perhaps among the easiest organizations to effect among the young people of any farm district are the clubs or contests in juvenile farm work and home economics. The beginning of such a purpose will consist of getting into communication with the extension department of the state agricultural college. After obtaining their literature and learning their methods of procedure, call the boys and girls together, asking their parents to come along. It may be found practicable to call a general meeting of the entire neighborhood, inviting old and young possibly to a basket dinner, and there to lay before them the plans of the organizations. While the contest in [Pg 151]corn-raising or bread-baking has proved a marked success where tried, if possible arrange matters so that every earnest endeavor on the part of the young shall receive a suitable reward, not merely the winners of the first and second prizes.

Plate XIX.

(Courtesy of American Magazine.)
Fig. 25.—Jerry Moore, the champion boy corn raiser of the United States. He raised 253 bushels on a single acre of ground.

It is usually an easy matter to secure funds for paying the way of the boys to the state-wide farmers’ institute or the boys’ institute usually held at the agricultural college during the holiday season. Provide that every boy who reaches a certain standard—say, that of raising so many bushels of corn on an acre of land—shall go at the expense of the fund. Likewise, organize the girls into a bread-baking club or something of the sort. Prizes may be offered for the best bread, but all the girls whose home-making work meets a certain fixed standard of requirement should have promise of a suitable reward. Perhaps they too may be sent without expense to themselves to a state conference on home economics. In case of these trips to the state meetings it will be necessary to appoint responsible chaperons for the boys and girls.

Other forms of contests

It may be found advisable to start a good-roads contest among the boys of the home township, offering an attractive prize to the one who shows the best results at the end of a given period and a per diem payment of money to every boy who faithfully[Pg 152] takes care of his half mile or quarter mile of public road.

Then, there may be instituted on a small scale stock shows and poultry shows in the hands of the boys of the neighborhood. To this the girls too may come with any such thing as display specimens of their home sewing and fancy work, house plants, and the like. In fact, these exhibitions may gradually develop into a sort of neighborhood or township fair for the special benefit of the young. To this display may be brought, not only the items named immediately above, but the larger variety of things mentioned in the chapter on the Rural Y.M.C.A.

The improvement of the school situation

Rural leaders will nearly always find many opportunities for improving the local school situation. But let the organizer keep unfailingly in view the high aims of all this rural work; namely, the awakening of a deeper interest in the affairs that normally belong to the neighborhood life, and the fuller measure of joy and contentment to result from every such achievement. So, there may be undertaken the redirection of the work of the country school. For example, bring forces to bear upon it that will result in the introduction of the study of elementary agriculture and the simple elements of home keeping and home sanitation therein. Work for a better class of teachers and a higher salary payment. En[Pg 153]deavor to have the length of the school term extended and the school attendance made more regular. Institute a series of red-letter days for the school during the year. It may be practicable to have a “parents’ day,” an occasion on which all will be invited to come out and join the pupils in a noonday lunch and learn more about the progress and the needs of the school. Provide a half-day for free and open discussion of school matters and if possible organize among the patrons a sort of “boosters’ club.”

Another form of endeavor in behalf of the schools is that of striving for improvement of the high school facilities of the neighborhood. Perhaps there is not a high school within riding distance of the homes. Cannot one be instituted, say, for the township? Or, what can be done to improve the present neighborhood relations to the high school that may be already within reach? Is there a prohibitive tuition fee? Does the high school now in existence actually serve through its courses the best interests of young people who come in from the neighborhood? Again, perhaps it would be feasible to organize the grown boys and girls who have dropped out of the country school into a neighborhood group and provide a daily conveyance for taking them to and from the town high school By this means, many may be induced to go to school who are idling away the valuable winter months.

During the last decade, what has been the trend of[Pg 154] the young men and women who have gone from the home district to high school or college? Have any of the best of them returned to the farm? Or, have these institutions been a means of sending them away as permanent city dwellers? Does this thing need to continue? Cannot some movement be instituted for bringing about a radical change? So long as the country boys and girls attend the town high schools and there be required to take the old-fashioned classical courses—which have always served to introduce their minds to the city life and to the professional callings—the country districts will continue to be depleted of their best brains and energy.

Home and school play problems

Start a movement in the interest of better provided play opportunities for the children of the neighborhood. The possibilities of enriching and extending the young life through the avenue of better play are just beginning to be understood. We have always accepted the theory that young children must have some time to play, but we have given little or no heed to the matter of providing for their play such apparatus as might furnish scientific contributions to the development of their characters.

Make a brief inquiry throughout the neighborhood and you will perhaps find that not a single farm home has apparently given this matter any definite attention. Now, what playthings may easily be provided[Pg 155] in such homes? After having determined that matter, begin a campaign of education of the rural parents. First, write to the Playground Association of America in New York City and ask for a list of their literature on play. From this source you will obtain pamphlets and larger volumes giving specific suggestions for installing rural play apparatus, and details as to dimensions, prices, and the like. Now, you are ready for work. Appeal to a centrally located family for their coöperation in establishing a model. Induce them to provide for their children a full set of the apparatus, seeing to it that the expense is kept down to the minimum. Nearly all of the materials of construction are lying about the ordinary farm home and need only to be assembled and put into place. Once you have established your model home playground, then invite your neighbors in to see it, perhaps making a sort of picnic or holiday occasion out of the affair. At any rate, you may be sure that the parents of the neighborhood will begin at once to copy the models and many will even improve upon them.

Along with your efforts there may be necessary a campaign of instruction and admonition in relation to the play of the children. Many parents may be working their small boys and girls too hard and allowing not enough time for play. In this respect your persistent effort will in time show excellent results.

[Pg 156]Let us suppose that the farm home selected for the model playthings has at least one small boy and one small girl therein. Then, the following might be set up:—

A swing, a seesaw, a sliding board or pole, a pair of rings, a trapeze, and a horizontal bar. Have all under shade if possible. Provide also a small play wagon and a cart or two, with a sand box for the small child.

Inspect the district school in reference to play facilities and you may find nothing other than the bare ground with perhaps a baseball diamond. Here, then, is a rare opportunity for constructive work. Organize in your own way a boosters’ club and provide play apparatus. In Chapter VIII you will find full details as to the equipment best suited for the purpose. Provide in every case that the expense be minimized. Nearly all of the apparatus may be constructed free of cost by interested persons in the home neighborhood or in the near-by village.

A neighborhood library

Another very enticing line of endeavor for the rural leader is that of establishing the country library. Some one in the neighborhood has a big house, one room or more of which may conveniently be set apart for the purpose. Induce the owners of this house to clear up a room and remodel it, if need be, and make their home a sort of intellectual center for[Pg 157] the district. Of course the schoolhouse or rural church may be available for the purpose, but the farm home will be better for a great many reasons, among them being the possibility of having the library open at all hours of the day so that books may be exchanged on the occasion of one’s passing the place. Now, go after the well-to-do residents of the district and gather a fund for the library. Paint in glowing terms the visions you have of this thing when it has been set on foot. Declare your purpose as that of helping and uplifting the community life. Show the “close-fisted” resident that the establishment of a neighborhood library will attract desirable settlers into the district and improve prices of land and produce.

After having obtained a small fund, consult the best authorities for advice in selecting the books. By all means avoid cheap stories and trash of every other sort. Since your work is in behalf of the young, obtain a few attractive and instructive picture books. There can probably be obtained a book which treats and illustrates fully the bird life of the local state, giving a brief description and pictures in their natural color. Young people may be very much attracted by authentic books of the nature-study class, including those descriptive of wild animals and of hunting and exploring tales. Consult the lists given under the chapter on the literature in the country home for additional titles and suggestions.

If it be found difficult or impracticable to purchase[Pg 158] books for the neighborhood library, then, the next best thing will be the traveling library. Communicate with the state library association and learn definitely what may be obtained from that source. Then, proceed to bring the best available volumes into the neighborhood. In the selection of the library do not forget the local interest. Secure every attractive volume that will help to make the boys and girls acquainted with the best meanings of their own community life and more interested in staying by the home affairs and building them up. Not the least among the valuable elements of the neighborhood library will be the periodicals, in the selection of which expert advice is recommended.

Holidays and recreation for the young

In an ably written article published in Rural Manhood of January, 1910, John R. Boardman, International County Work Secretary, says: “A new gospel of the recreation life needs to be proclaimed in the country. Rural America must be compelled to play. It has to a degree toiled itself into deformity, disease, depravity, and depression. Its long hours of drudgery, its jealousy of every moment of daylight, its scorn of leisure and of pleasure must give way to shorter hours of labor, occasional periods of complete relaxation and whole-hearted participation in wholesome plays, festivals, picnics, games, and other recreative amusements. Better health,[Pg 159] greater satisfaction, and a richer life wait on the wise development of this recreative ideal.”

A brief survey of the neighborhood will doubtless show the lack of general method in dealing with the farm boys’ and girls’ holidays and vacations during the long summer months. Here, then, is apparent another field for constructive leadership. In proceeding to change the present situation, it may be well to gather a considerable list of authoritative statements like the one just quoted. Farm parents gradually fall into the habit of over-working their half-grown children. Now, if we can institute a custom of weekly half holidays for the young people of the neighborhood, a splendid work will be done in behalf of a higher community life.

Begin work by selecting an attractive central location, and plan that the young, and the older ones, too, may come to this place one afternoon every week, or at least two afternoons every month, and have a good time generally. Games may be played, local clubs may meet in the shade of the trees, the sewing society and other groups of women having their interests served. The farmers’ clubs may have opportunity for helpful exchange of ideas, while the little children may play and romp about the premises. Invite all to come early in the afternoon and bring an evening lunch to be enjoyed in common. Thus, you may give the young people who regard their everyday work as drudgery, such interest and in[Pg 160]spiration as to tone up their lives noticeably for every hour of the long days of toil.

Many over-work their children

In connection with your efforts in behalf of the holiday or weekly picnic, take up carefully the matter of the proper amount of work for the farm boys and girls of any given age. You will find such willingness on the part of parents to do the right thing by their children and a proportionate amount of ignorance as to what ought to be done. Therefore, you may be able to carry on most profitably to all a campaign of instruction in regard to such thing. You will, of course, first make out as best you can with the aid of all available literature, an ideal schedule of hours of work and play and recreation suitable for the boys and girls of the different ages.

At the holiday picnic it may be found advisable to organize the boys into a club of their own and the girls, likewise, for the promotion of their several and mutual interests. Inspire all with your earnestness and enthusiasm and lead them to consider the latent possibilities of the neighborhood, of how it might be transformed into a place of great worth and attractiveness. At the same country picnic, look to the practicability of organizing into a club the tired mothers of the district. They are many. You will know them by their careworn looks. Create a sentiment in behalf of more frequent outings and[Pg 161] more recreation for these women. Help them obtain literature relative to their own affairs, to exchange ideas and plans in behalf of their own betterment. Show them especially the possibility of quitting the work at stated times even though that work be less than half finished, and getting away from the tedium thereof—all in the interest of longer life for themselves and better service for their homes and families. Almost any sort of club which these mothers can be induced to attend will achieve the purpose desired.

Federation for country life progress

Federations for country-life progress are now arising in many parts of the country. One of the first was organized in New England, under the leadership of President Butterfield. The Illinois movement may be described, as an example.

The Illinois State Federation for Country Life Progress is composed of nearly half a hundred subordinate organizations. Their platform of ten principles given below sets forth a number of most important and practical purposes, as follows:—

1. Local country community building.

2. The federation of all the rural forces of the state of Illinois in one big united effort for the betterment of country life.

3. The development of institutional programs of action for all rural social agencies. This means a [Pg 162]program of work for the school, another for the church, another for the farmers’ institute, and so on.

4. The stimulation of farmer leadership in the country community.

5. The increase and improvement of professional leadership among country teachers, ministers, and all others who serve the rural community in offices of educational direction.

6. The perpetuation among all the people of country communities of a definite community ideal, and the concentrated effort of the whole community in concrete tasks looking toward the realization of this ideal.

7. The recognition of the country school as the immediate initiator of progress in the average rural community of Illinois.

8. The study and investigation of country life facts and conditions.

9. The holding of annual country life conferences.

10. The protection of this federation and of all country life from any form of exploitation.

The vocations of boys and girls

A most commendable work for the rural social leader would be that of showing the possibilities of guiding country boys and girls more scientifically in the direction of their coming vocational life. Too[Pg 163] often, there may be found a mistaken farmer who is attempting to force his boy to take up the farm life when as a matter of fact the boy is in no sense fitted for such vocation and should be trained for a distinctly different line of work. Then, on another occasion, you will meet a man who is farming simply because he has to do it, and who is over-anxious that his boy be guided in the direction of something else. The point especially to be emphasized here is that the parent cannot choose arbitrarily a vocation for his child. The native interests of the latter must be consulted again and again, while the child is growing up, and in the end the young person must decide the matter for himself.

The world is full of wrecks of human character who are such largely because of the single fault of their never having been trained scientifically in a vocational way. So advance as best you can the idea that parents must be most patient in awaiting the development of the various instincts and desires in their growing children, and for the final decision of the latter in respect to a calling. It should be made clear that many of the best and ablest men in the world floundered about not a little in deciding upon the final choice.

This very important matter of choosing a vocation for the young man and the young woman will be taken up in Chapters XVIII and XIX of this book.

[Pg 164]

Other local possibilities

It will be understood that the possibilities of church and Sunday school work in a rural neighborhood are not intentionally slighted. Little is said in regard to them here simply because of the fact that there is a country-wide organization with well-directed local branches and with a flood of excellent literature constantly at work in building up the church and Sunday school life. The reader may be reminded, however, that this field still presents many excellent opportunities for serving the highest interests of the home community.

The matter of purely social gatherings for the boys and girls is important. It will perhaps be found that they are running to cheap, degrading dances, either in the home neighborhood or in a near-by town. If the rural leader can break this thing up and substitute a literary club, a better form of social intercourse, or any other gathering, for the cheap dance and its resultant debauch, the effort will certainly be most commendable. It is not as a rule advisable to condemn and denounce these cheap affairs, but rather to begin at once a movement in the interest of the better substitute. Just as soon as the latter begins to take form, the young people will naturally discontinue their degrading affairs. Chapter XIII of this book will offer a more extended discussion of the social problems of country youth.

Plate XX.

Fig. 26.—An example of the little lonely school in the woods, a problem of the social worker. Not enough children to stimulate one another properly in the lesson-getting and play activities.

[Pg 165]

The boy-scout movement

There is much to commend the boy-scout movement as a country organization. It must be thought of as an educative institution. In discussing its best meanings and possibilities, Professor E. L. Holton, of the Kansas State Agricultural College, says: “Education as used here means habits of health, of work, of thrift, of observation, and of research. It is habit that determines the health of an individual and the sanitary conditions of a community; the social and moral level of the worker and the quality of his work; the returns from the farm and the ideals of the farmer; a man’s bank account and his insight into the secrets of his environment. Habit has its physical basis in the flesh, the blood, and the nerve cells. There must be actual first-hand experience and leadership hitched up with text-book knowledge in educating the boy. The old elemental instincts of adventure, pugnacity, gang life, and following leadership must be taken into account and made to work out into life-compelling desires.”

Before attempting the organization of the local Boy Scouts, one is advised first to send to the national organization and that of the state, if there be any, for literature and directions. The only caution which it seems necessary to give here is that there be connected with the conduct of the organization some[Pg 166] serious problems and requirements and that it be not given over exclusively to merely doing wild and daring “stunts” and “hiking” about the country.

Rural boy-scouts in Kansas

As an example of what is being done by way of organizing the rural boy scout movement, the Kansas plan under the direction of Professor E. L. Holton is here given:—

The Agricultural College Council is organizing companies of Rural-Life Boy Scouts in all parts of Kansas. The aim of the Council is “a company in every community.” There are 160,000 boys in Kansas eligible to membership. It seeks to encourage boys to learn the secrets of the prairies, the streams and the forests, and be able to read nature as well as books; to have a growing bank account, and to do some type of work better than it has been done by anyone else.

During the month of July or August there is to be a five to ten days’ Rural-Life Camp of Instruction in each county, which is to be attended by all companies of the county. This camp of instruction will be under the direction and management of the County Council. The program will consist of:—

1. Games and athletic contests.

2. Contest in judging farm crops and stock.

3. Naming birds, wild animals, fish, flowers, trees, shrubs, etc.

[Pg 167]4. Reporting on the savings bank accounts.

5. Contests in any other line of work carried on in the county.

6. Talks on rural life subjects.

The duties of the individual scout are as follows:—

For the Third Class—

1. Know by sight and call ten common birds.

2. Know by sight and track ten wild animals.

3. Know by sight five common game fish.

4. Know in the fields ten wild flowers.

5. Know by leaf, bark, and general outline ten common trees or shrubs.

6. Know the sixteen points of the compass.

7. Know the elementary rules for the prevention of typhoid fever.

8. Plant and cultivate according to the latest scientific methods not less than one-half acre of some farm or garden crop. (The town boy may substitute a town lot.)

9. Own and care for according to the latest scientific methods some type of pure bred domestic animal. (This includes poultry.) Value not less than $10.

10. Maintain a bank account of not less than $15.

11. Shall strive to graduate from the common schools.

For the Second Class—

1. Know by sight and call twenty common birds.

2. Know by sight and track twenty wild animals.

[Pg 168]

3. Know by sight seven common game fish.

4. Know in the fields twenty wild flowers.

5. Know by leaf, bark, and general outline twenty common trees and shrubs.

6. Know the elementary rules for the prevention of tuberculosis.

7. Plant and cultivate according to the latest scientific methods not less than one acre of some farm or garden crop. (The town boy may substitute town lots.)

8. Own and care for according to the latest scientific methods some type of pure bred domestic animal. (This includes poultry.) Value not less than $20.

9. Maintain a bank account of not less than $20.

10. Read the books of the Young People’s Reading Circle for the eighth and ninth grades.

For the First Class—

1. Know by sight and call fifty common birds of Kansas.

2. Know by sight and track all wild animals of Kansas.

3. Know by sight all the common game fish of Kansas.

4. Know in the fields twenty-five wild flowers.

5. Know by leaf, bark, and general outline all common trees and shrubs of Kansas.

6. Know by sight twenty-five common weeds.

7. Plant and cultivate according to the latest[Pg 169] scientific methods not less than two acres of farm crops. (The town boy may substitute town lots.)

8. Own and care for according to the latest scientific methods some type of pure bred domestic animal. (This includes poultry.) Value not less than $25.

9. Maintain a bank account of not less than $25.

10. Shall read at least two of a list of books on rural life.

The motto is: “Know the secrets of the open country.”


See Rural Leadership Number of Rural Manhood, June, 1910.

Play for the Country Boy. Clark W. Hetherington. Rural Manhood, May, 1911.

The Y.M.C.A. Socializing the Country. Farman S. Vance. The Independent, April 15, 1911.

Holiday Plays. Marguerite Merington. Duffield & Co. Suitable for rural leaders.

The County and Local Fair. L. H. Bailey. The Country-Life Movement, 1911. This article contains many practical and stimulating suggestions for making a successful county fair, on a new basis.

Farmers’ Institutes for Young People. Circular No. 99 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Free.) This circular gives a large fund of details of all sorts of clubs and movements.

Kindergarten at Home. V. M. Hillyer. Baker-Taylor Company. N.Y. Contains much constructive work.

The Young Farmer’s Practical Library. Edited by Ernest Ingersoll and published by Sturgis-Walton Company, N.Y. (75 cents each.) Contains some excellent matter. The following volumes are included:

County Superintendent J. F. Haines, Noblesville, Indiana, has a fund of helpful data on agricultural fairs by young people.

The Extension of Industrial and Agricultural Education. (Pamphlet.) Extension Department, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Children’s Singing Games Old and New. Mari Ruef Hofer. A. Flanagan Company. Chicago. Miss Hofer is an authority of national reputation on the subject of play and games.

[Pg 171]



Over-work, poor pay, and little recreation are the agencies which annually drive thousands of good, promising youths from the rural districts into the cities, where their splendid native abilities for serving the world and society are most likely to become subordinated. All too often it is a case of a young man leaving the home place, surrounded by opportunities which he has not been allowed to avail himself of, and going into a place where he will take up the monotonous round of merely “holding a job.” In the former position, under intelligent care and direction, he might have grown into a strong, self-reliant man, full of resources, endued with good purposes; and at last have taken rank among those who are lifting the race to higher things. In the position obtained in the city he is almost certain to find his surroundings badly cramped, his spontaneity largely restricted, and his power of initiative without a motive for its indulgence. In short, his city position will press him continually and insistently to the end that he reduce himself to a mere machine, or a mere cog in a great machine.

[Pg 172]

See that the work is for the boy’s sake

One of the means whereby rural parents may assist their boy to develop into that fullness of life which the latter’s native abilities and excellent environment guarantee him, is to provide a scientific relation of the young life to the work which he may be required to perform. First of all, what is the proper way in which to regard the boy’s work? Ordinarily, the farmer is inclined to think of the work rather than the worker, and to ask himself what he can put the boy at in order to make his services most profitable to the business. Now, no evil intention is charged here, but this erroneous point of view is almost certain to lead gradually to an abuse of the boy. Why not put the question in this way: How much work and what sort of work will be most conducive to the boy’s present development and to his future welfare? The radical difference between the two positions may be readily seen. And while the latter may be less profitable in form of material and monetary gain, it will prove to be far more serviceable in the production of sterling manhood.

It is not an easy matter to determine offhand as to the amount of work a boy of any given age should perform. Conditions vary greatly. The safest mode of procedure is to study the individual boy carefully. Let the parent first acquaint himself with the general principles of human development through the[Pg 173] service of suitable literature, as recommended in a former chapter. Then, the boy’s physical strength, his aptitudes, and his native interests should be taken into account. Among other aims, seek that of a happy adjustment of the boy to his work. Some of the tasks required of him will be and should be somewhat irksome, as a means of discipline. On the other hand, much of the work he does should be backed up by his hearty approval and good will.

It is probably true that no boy is instinctively fond of work and that the average boy must be held to his tasks whether he chooses to perform them or not. But the final pleasant relations of the boy to his work can best be secured by means of counseling with him on the subject. Explain to the lad the fact that industry is the greatest factor in the world’s progress and development. Point out to him instances of worthy men, young and old, who are faithful workers. Make him to see that he can the better become an honorable man through an intimate knowledge of labor. Point out to him instances of men who are failures in life, and others who are criminals, explaining—as statistics prove—that the majority of these delinquent persons were never trained during youth in the performance of any specific work. Show him if possible how even the wealthy person who has nothing important to do, is a burden to himself and a menace to society.

[Pg 174]

Not enforced labor, but mastery

As stated above, no natural boy probably takes up hard work willingly or voluntarily. Parents may as well accept it as their peculiar duty to direct and discipline their boys with required tasks. But after considerable persistent and conscientious enforcement of the boy’s labors the parent is almost certain to be rewarded with the latter’s manifest willingness and fondness in doing what was at first thought of as pain and punishment.

It is a serious matter, however, to observe how many grown men there are who look upon their work with the dread and disfavor natural to little boys. One is inclined to wonder at this and at the cause of it. So far as can be learned by inquiry among workmen and those who dread their enforced labor, their view of the situations is about as follows, to render liberally the language of a stonemason-philosopher: “Work is something no man is naturally fond of. Every worker would quit if he could afford to and take life easy. If I had ten thousand dollars ahead, I would never work another day. Of course somebody has to work or we should all starve, but my advice to a boy is that he get a good education and thus learn how to make a living some other way.”

Here the parent who has true foresight in respect to his child’s development is confronted with a serious problem. It is not merely a matter of teaching the[Pg 175] boy to work, but rather that of teaching him to become master of his work in order that personal pleasure may finally come from the performance thereof. So, one must follow the boy most thoughtfully in the latter’s initial steps toward satisfactory industry. While it is sometimes advisable to take him forcibly back to the place where he failed and even to enforce obedience and effort with the rod, it is most certainly the parent’s duty to praise the small lad for his first light tasks well performed, and otherwise to show appreciation thereof.

“It took me a year to get this boy down to business,” said the proud father of a fifteen-year-old who had just won a second prize in a state-wide corn-raising contest. “During the summer of his sixth year I took him with me into the field on occasions when he could do something light and learn from it. But my chief plan was to train him in garden work. I gave him a small plot to tend and helped him lay it out and plant it. At first he showed great interest, but I knew that it was of the playful kind and that it would soon wane. Sure enough, in a short time he was dodging and slighting his garden work. Then, I began a more definite method. At morning I would instruct him very carefully what he must do for the day, and at each evening I required him to compare results and instructions with me. Punishment was necessary more than once, but slowly he began to catch my point of view.”

[Pg 176]“I bought the boy’s first spring radishes for table use and permitted him to spend half the money. This seemed to open his eyes. Later I paid him for his other produce. During the second season I emphasized such matters as carefulness in selecting seed and the arrangement and cultivation of the garden produce. Several of the neighbors expressed surprise and delight when they saw the attractive garden. This merited approbation was noticeably effective. Since that time I have had little trouble. I can give that boy any ordinary farm problem to-day and he will work it out most enthusiastically. He has learned the joy of mastery in his work.”

The foregoing somewhat lengthy statement is given with the thought that it may furnish illustrative material to others. It is a mistake to keep driving boys to their work “just because they ought to do it,” as one stern father put the matter. But it is altogether fair and advisable that a series of rewards be offered. The youth must be made to feel that his work is to serve some worthy personal end. This well-trained boy’s reward came gradually as follows: (1) parental approbation. (2) a money return. (3) the praise of the neighbors, (4) the joy of self-reliance and mastery.

Provide vacations for the boy

It is unreasonable to expect the growing boy to have the same vital interest in the work as that of[Pg 177] his parents. The wise father will see to it that his youthful son has some outside incentive for work, as well as money payments and words of praise. Vacation periods and holidays judiciously placed will prove a splendid tonic for the working boy’s mind. The schedule given below will indicate the relative amount of time that should be given to such recreative indulgences. Even in the matter of holidays there is a tendency of some fathers to regard them as so much stock in trade to exchange for the boy’s extra effort. So, some farmers will map out more than a reasonable week’s work and say, “Now, boys, finish that up by Saturday noon and you may quit.” In such case we have mere exploitation of the boy’s strength and energy in the interest of the work and the profits. The scheme will fall flat sooner or later and leave the boy still despising the work and mistrustful of his employer.

The plan pursued by a prosperous farmer in dealing with his two sons may serve to illustrate a very good method. This thoughtful father reports substantially as follows:—

“The work on our place is never ended, but whenever I find that the boys need a vacation they get it just the same. They are fourteen and sixteen and splendid help during the summer. I never permit them to work more than ten hours a day, while they are allowed a full half day off each week to use as they please, and about once each month they have an[Pg 178] entire day to themselves. Also during the hot weather in the middle of the summer they have from three days to a week for some special outing. Last summer they camped out five days with some other good boys. It is my theory that the boys who are given such vacations will do more work and do it better than those who are not.”

The foregoing plan may seem to sacrifice the interests of the work, but in fact it really does not. After all, it is merely a question of the right point of view. Is the boy for the sake of the work, or the work for the sake of the boy? Answer the question conscientiously for yourself, dear reader. And may the boy be forever the gainer!

A tentative schedule of hours

Obedience may be regarded as a pre-requisite for successful boy training. So, the first light tasks required of the small lad will be intended as merely a means of training him to obey and to feel the meaning of responsibility. No one has thus far seemed to think it worth while to attempt to prescribe for the work and play of children. How different in the case of the school requirements! Even in the district schools the thing is reduced to a system—both the quantity and the quality of the work necessary for each age and grade are carefully scheduled. Now, why not the same forethought in planning the necessary amount of the other[Pg 179] exercises? And why not have this scheme made out by highly trained experts as is the case with the school course? There seems to be no plausible defense for this traditional expensive oversight on the part of society.

The schedule below is offered as merely schematic and possibly suggestive. In any given case there may be wide departures from it. But the thought is that of training the whole boy, and that for the sake of his own and society’s future good.

Age 4 or younger.—May be taught the nature of a required duty from being sent on an occasional small errand about the place. Practically all the time should be given to play.

Age 5.—Use substantially the same methods as for age 4, but add the requirement of one regular light task daily and follow him up in the performance of it.

Age 6.—Continue as above, adding to the required tasks slightly. If the lad now be taken to the field, he must go more in the spirit of play than of work. Of course he will learn much about farm matters at this age, but his activities will be largely spontaneous. Note the plan reported above.

Age 7.—At this age, the boy should be required to do light chores at evening after school—such as carrying in wood and kindling and attending to the stock. Or he may help in the house. During vacation he may help for two to four hours daily[Pg 180] with some easy tasks, preferably about the house. Of course there is much work about the barn and fields which is not too heavy for him.

Age 8.—Some boys are put to plowing at this age, but such a thing is little short of criminal. Moreover, they should be held regularly to no sort of work all day long at this age; that is, unless the parent desires to reduce his boy to a little old dried-up man before the age of twenty is reached, and perhaps drive him from home.

Age 9.—Intermittently half-day or all-day tasks may now be imposed; provided the lad be taken along as a mere helper and may, about two-thirds of the time, either play at his work or regard it in the light of a playful pastime. Do not work the joyousness and spontaneity out of him at this young age.

Age 10.—An average of five hours solid work per day is all that the 10-year-old farm boy should be required to do. Much play and recreation of the rougher sort should supplement it. The desire to construct something with tools is now strong and should be indulged. Or, see that he has a pony to ride as he hurries about the place in the performance of his many errands.

Age 11.—Increase the required tasks about one hour per day with similar treatment as for age 10. This is the age for training the boy to be a sort of “page” in service of his mother and sister.

Plate XXI.

Fig. 27.—A tennis court in connection with the country boys’ camp. There should be more of these.
Fig. 28.—A country play festival. We cannot answer rightly the question, How much work for the country boy? and at the same time neglect to provide for his play.

Age 12.—Many 12-year-old boys are required to[Pg 181] do a man’s work every day. But such a thing is done in the interest of the work and the profits and not for the sake of the boy. A good way to measure his worth at this age is to see that he does not earn more than half as much as the full-grown man. Give many half-holidays. His interest in fishing, rowing, swimming, and the like, needs much indulgence.

Age 13.—From this age to 15, watch the boy for the beginning of adolescence and be unusually careful not to over-work him. Most of his bodily strength must go into making new bone and muscle. Frequent intervals of rest and relaxation should be the rule, together with avoidance of too long and too heavy a day’s work. Even permit some crops to be lost rather than abuse the boy.

Age 14-16.—This is the time to begin to interest the boy in working to serve his own ends. His social instincts will now appear strong and he will desire many new possessions not hitherto thought of. Therefore, adjust his work to these new interests and lead him to feel as much as possible that he is working for his own advantage. There is still danger of over-work. So see to it that rests and vacations with opportunities for social experience are frequent. It is a matter for parental concern if the farm boy be not able to return to his labors at the beginning of each new day with freshness of spirits and overflowing energy.

[Pg 182]

Think out a reasonable plan

Finally, the farmer is urged to take up the matter for consideration early and make out what seems a reasonable plan of relating the boy to his work, and then to adhere persistently thereto. It has been charged repeatedly that the typical well-to-do farmer works his wife and children hard all day and until late bed time in the evening; that heavy chores are piled upon the boys after they have already worked overtime in the field; that they are routed out at four o’clock every morning, when they go half asleep and moaning to their work again.

If the foregoing accusation be at all true, its truth must certainly be the result of carelessness and ignorance of human rights, and not premeditative inhumanity and criminality as it seems to be! The reading of good farm literature, together with some intensive study of books and periodicals on the care and management of children—these will most certainly prove corrective agencies of some of the abuses named herein.


Standards in Education. Arthur H. Chamberlain. Chapter III, “Industrial Training: Its Aim and Scope.” American Book Company.

Child Labor and the Republic. Homer Folks. National Child Labor Committee, N.Y.

[Pg 183]

Teaching the Boy to Work. (Pamphlet.) Wm. A. McKeever. Published by the author, Manhattan, Kansas.

Half Time at School and Half Time at Work. F. P. Stockbridge. World’s Work, April, 1911. An interesting experiment at the University of Cincinnati.

Care of the Child. Mrs. Burton Chance. Chapter X, “The Awkward Age.” Penn Publishing Company.

[Pg 184]



Imagine a wedding scene in a rural home. The only daughter, a young woman of ideal age for marriage, is joining her heart and her hand, for weal or for woe, to those of a young man of suitable character. But strange and unexpected as it may seem, there are many tears on the part of the immediate relatives of the girl. Her parents are manifesting the strange emotion of solemnity at a time when gaiety might be expected. Why is it? you ask. The whole situation has an interesting and inspiring history. It is simply this: During all her years the parents of this girl have watched her grow up, through infancy, childhood, maidenhood, and finally into the full maturity of a woman; and every stage of her growth has been carefully safe-guarded by them. They have made the home life and the home work serve her needs and purposes in a most beautiful and instructive manner. They seem to have attempted at all times to put into their daughter’s life just such experience as would become a helpful part of her growing character. And what a reward! What a splendid satisfaction to the worthy parents to be able to contribute to society such a product of their affectionate care and training!

[Pg 185]

A balanced life for the girl

Should we follow it out, the biography of the good young woman mentioned above would teach many a valuable lesson to the parents of other girls—would teach them that a growing girl has her specific needs and her inherent rights, which must be provided for by her parents through the proper kind of directing and caretaking. A certain amount of restraint, of work, of play, of recreation, of social experiences, of practice in self-dependence, of opportunity for service of others—yes, a certain amount of all these things must be conscientiously supplied for the life of the growing girl so that she may develop into a well-rounded character.

Parents are not accused of intentional wrong to their daughters. Such cases are rare. The chief sins against the daughters of the rural homes are the sins of neglect, of indifference, and of ignorance as to what were necessary to be done. So what we may accomplish in this chapter is, first to arouse parents to an appreciation of the seriousness of the problem before them; and second, to offer some specific aids to the better achievement of the task of bringing up a girl to the rural home.

It is a well-established principle in plant propagation that certain nutrient elements must be present in the soil before growth will go on properly. It does not satisfy the needs of the plant for some of[Pg 186] the chemical substances to be present in large amount if the others be absent. There must be a sort of balanced ration for the vegetable life. Similarly in case of that tender plant of the household, the young girl; she can be kept alive on work and study alone, but for beautiful and symmetrical growth other elements of character-nourishment are necessary. What are they? The reader is referred to Chapter I for a general list.

The hurry of work and the isolation of the ordinary country home tend to foster an over-serious disposition in girls. There is too little to provoke a smile and not half enough practice in smiling. Laughter is also too infrequent. A boy may grow up habitually stern and sedate and yet be able to fight his way through a successful manhood. But with the girl it is different. Her habit of smiling and of being pleasant and agreeable may prove to be one of her most valuable charms. So, the early and continuous training of the girl in sociability must be considered among the parental duties to her; and that by encouraging her to be sociable at home and by providing that she have frequent companionship with others of her age.

Work begins with obedience

One of the initial steps in the training of a child is that of securing a willing obedience, a habitual performance of required tasks and duties. It may[Pg 187] prove an easy matter to drive the girl to the work. But how about the problem of teaching her to take up her daily tasks willingly and with a joyous heart? Girls are little different from boys at this stage of their education. They do not take naturally and fondly to work. They will slight and neglect it. Worse than that, if untrained in faithfulness to household duties, they will lounge about the place or run much in society and allow their mothers to work themselves slowly to death—and scarcely seem to realize what is taking place.

Similarly as in case of the boy, some forcing, some rebuke, and occasional punishment will be necessary to initiate the girl into the work habit. But shortly obedience and willingness will come, and with them a deeper consciousness than is manifested in her young brother. After that, the danger of over-work will soon begin to be apparent to the watchful mother, and be guarded against.

Habit formation is a prominent factor in the first lessons of obedience in work. It will be highly advisable to start everything right. After a few instances of slighting one kind of work or expending too much energy upon another kind the young character begins to take on these faults permanently. Many women scrub floors and wash dishes unto their death. Others perform these endless tasks quite as well “in a jiffy” and go on their way singing. Why is this? Is it not a matter which the mother[Pg 188] should think about most seriously in relation to the training of her daughter?

Working the girls in the field

Is there any justification for requiring a girl to work in the field with the men and boys? Many girls are doing so, whether required or not. Careful consideration of the matter seems to bring out a few suggestions. The farm girl while a child under ten years may accompany the father or the brothers into the field and there be permitted to do some light work occasionally, provided she regard it in a semi-playful way. On very rare occasions, when older, she may be rightfully called on to drive a rake for a day or take some similar part of the work in order to help prevent the loss of a valuable crop.

But the practice followed by some farmers, of often requiring their daughters to do a man’s work in the field, and excusing the fault with the thought that it is for the sake of laying up wealth for her future enjoyment—that is abominable and should be prohibited by law. Among other objections, it is probably most hurtful to the young woman’s pride and self-respect to be forced to perform farm labor. And then, during such time as she works in the field her much needed opportunities for the practice of the womanly arts and refinements are slipping away.

Of course we should not take away from the[Pg 189] country-reared woman the poetic sentiment about the days of her childhood when she helped rake the hay and drive the cattle home, “just for fun.”

Some specific suggestions

It is difficult, of course, to lay down specific rules here, because every case is a special one. But nearly all intelligent parents can easily determine whether or not they are fair to their girls. It would seem reasonable that in addition to the affection and interest properly bestowed upon her in the home, the daughter should have at least the same measure of value—money value—put upon her work as is the rule with the hired helper. Certainly no worthy parent would ask her to work for a smaller sum.

Too many of these good, promising girls are cramped and limited in their lives until the self-pride is crushed well-nigh out of them. Often such young women will be seen moping about in a stooped attitude of body, stiff and awkward in their manners, lacking in self-confidence and in that beautiful grace and ease of movement which mark the well-developed young woman of twenty years. All of this is more or less indicative of parental disregard and mistreatment—indicative that some one has cheated her out of the time that should have been allowed for rest and recreation and social improvement and given her in exchange an over-amount of[Pg 190] grinding toil and enforced seclusion—all for the sake of the work and the profits.

It is a singular fact that so many country mothers make no provision for throwing extra safeguards around their young daughter during the monthly period of physical drain and weakness. It could probably be shown that her lowered vitality and the increased susceptibility to fatigue at this time make almost complete rest and relaxation highly advisable. It is also most probable that the strain of work and the exposure to inclement weather, so often allowed during the monthly period, are the incipient causes of life-long weakness and disease.

Do you own your daughter?

There are still not a few parents who are possessed of the old-fashioned idea that their children belong to them, that they have a proprietary right in their own sons and daughters. Just now there is thought of a father who is intelligent, in many ways above the average man, but who seems to regard his twenty-three-year-old daughter as a sort of chattel. Being a widower, he needs her services, so he would employ her at the least possible wages, or none, to take charge of the home, rear the two or three smaller children, and cook and keep house for himself and three or four hired men. The best excuse that may be offered for this man’s attitude toward his daughter is sheer ignorance of[Pg 191] the true meaning of the situation. But such treatment of a mature daughter is little short of cruelty. This young woman should have every possible opportunity just now to prepare herself for the future. Her conduct for the present may even have the appearance of being somewhat selfish in order that her future well-being and that of those dependent upon her may be safe-guarded.

Further details of the foregoing case need not be given. The issue to be made out of it is this: The parent who is doing the fair and square thing by his daughter not only trains her to work and then safeguards her life against an over-amount of work, but he also sees to it that the labor she performs is contributive to her enjoyment, to the strengthening of her character, and to the perfection of her life for the future. Parents are justified in using every possible means as contributory to the future well-being of their growing daughters, and all this for the sake of the generations yet unborn. Thus, perhaps without realizing the fact at all, the former may return to the race life that measure of assistance which they themselves received.

Difficult to make a schedule

It is difficult to make out a schedule of hours for the growing girl as we did for the boy, but the former chapter may be taken as a general guide. As with the boy, so with the girl, the first step in disci[Pg 192]pline is that of securing a willing obedience. Then the tasks may be assigned in accordance with the girl’s age and strength. There is no good reason for attempting to get work out of the child through a make-believe policy of play. Children had better be made to understand from the first that the world we live in is constructed largely through work; and that labor is honorable and may even be made pleasurable.

“I should rather do the work myself than be bothered with trying to get the children to do it,” is a very common expression, and one which indicates an erroneous idea of the problem we are considering. So long as parents put their children at the tasks merely for the sake of getting the tasks done, the children will suffer as a consequence. But if the thought of the child’s need of the discipline coming from work be uppermost, then, the results are likely to be wholesome.

Teach the girl self-supremacy

One of the greatest problems of the future of the race is involved in the fact that many thousands of the best young women in the land—young women who are well fitted to be the mothers of a better race of human beings than we now have—are choosing an independent calling for themselves. It is the author’s belief that one of the most tragic experiences known to any considerable portion of the [Pg 193]American people is this gradual starvation of the maternal instinct usually necessary in the case of the well-sexed young woman of the class just mentioned.

Plate XXII.

Fig. 29.—An industrial exhibit in a country school. If the boys and girls could enjoy frequently the refining experience of having their work observed by approving eyes, their appointed tasks would seem lighter.

And yet much of this fatal choice of an independent vocation on the part of many young women doubtless results from bad management of the growing girl. In too many country homes especially, the work is complete master of the housekeeper and not the converse, as the case should be. As a result, thousands of good women who ought to be in the pink and prime of life are going pathetically to the only rest which the conditions seem to allow—the grave. It is an awful thing, this wreck of so many good lives through over-work. Under such conditions, may we reasonably censure the many young women who foresee such a fate as a possibility for themselves and avoid it through choice of an unmarried life and independent support?

Girls are more readily enslaved to work than boys. It is comparatively easy to teach a young woman to work, but it is an extremely difficult matter to teach her when and how to quit work. Here, then, is the point whereat we would center the attention of the parents of the country girl. Make her mistress of her work. Develop in her by actual concrete lessons the ability to stop and rest or take recreation at the necessary time, even though the work be not half done.

[Pg 194]


1. Give the girl a trifling daily task at four or five years of age, merely for the sake of discipline. See to it, however, that her young life be occupied chiefly in play and enjoyment and outdoor recreation.

2. Gradually increase the amount of work required, but always with an eye single to the girl’s physical growth and character-development. Some definite thing to do as a regular daily requirement will prove most helpful.

3. Continue throughout the daughter’s growing years to provide for her pleasure. Her schooling, her personal belongings, her social advantages, and the like, must all be made to serve the purpose of making her life in the home a happy one. As she grows in strength and years, she will assume the increased amount of work with willingness and even with pleasure, provided the assigned duties be vitally related to her present purposes and her life interests.

4. Moreover, country parents must learn to think of themselves as first of all engaged in bringing up their children for a better human society; and secondly, as engaged in farming and housekeeping. If this point of view be held to persistently, the crops may often suffer and the housework frequently remain unfinished, but the vital interests of the boys and girls will continue ever to be served.

[Pg 195]5. Finally, let us continue to appreciate the value of outings and vacations as potent factors in relieving the drudgery of work about the country household. Women’s work in the country home naturally calls for much isolation and seclusion. The pre-adolescent girl should be taken out of the farm home once or twice per week during the summer vacation. It is good for her to go with her mother to the town market and to the women’s club meetings. As soon as she enters young womanhood, a square deal for the girl who helps in the home will call for a weekly outing of some kind and a careful provision for her social needs. All of this outside intercourse will serve to quicken the body and the intellect of the girl as she goes daily about the household duties, and to give her

“Thoughts that on easy pinions rise And hopes that soar aloft to the skies.”


The author has been able to find little printed matter of worth on the important problems outlined in this chapter. The industrial training of the country girl is a neglected subject. It seems to have been taken for granted that she needed none.

Sex and Society. W. I. Thomas, pp. 149-175, “Sex and Primitive Industry.” University of Chicago Press. Shows in outline the emancipation of women from the bondage of work.

Growth and Education. John M. Tyler. Chapter XII, “Manual Training Needed for Girls.” Houghton Mifflin Company.

[Pg 196]

Mind and Work. Dr. L. H. Gulick. Chapter II, “The Habit of Success”; also Chapter XIII, “The Need of Adequate Work.” Doubleday, Page Company.

Motive for Work. Margaret E. Schallenbeyer. Annual Report N.E.A. 1907.

Wallaces’ Farmer. Des Moines, Iowa. Weekly. This periodical prints many articles, editorial and contributed, which discuss the subjects treated in the foregoing chapter.

The Mother of the Living. Mrs. Catherine Barton. Published by the Author. Kansas City, Mo.

The Girl Wanted. Nixon Waterman. Chapter VIII, “The Purpose of Life.” Forbes & Co., Chicago.

Life’s Day. William L. Bainbridge, M.D. Chapter VIII, “The Irresponsible Age.” Frederic A. Stokes Company. N.Y.

[Pg 197]



We have been exceedingly slow in realizing the social needs of our children, in the usual instance depending on chance conditions to determine the matter for us. The city and the rural communities present a striking contrast in this respect. It does not seem possible that both can be right, while there is much to support the opinion that both are wrong. That is to say, in the city community the majority of the children are allowed to spend too much time in the company of others. As a result, they take on social manners and customs in a mere formal way and by far too early for the good of their character-development. The city ripens young life too fast. It produces the manners and refinements of adult life before the child becomes matured mentally. In the ordinary rural community there is not enough social experience for the young; and hence, a certain amount of crudeness, awkwardness, and lack of refinement tend to linger permanently in the character.

A happy mean is needed

What seems necessary, therefore, is the establishment of a social life which will be a compromise[Pg 198] between the excess of the city and the deficit of the country. So far as can be learned, very little has been achieved in the matter of establishing just such a social order in the rural communities as will tend to develop the lives of the boys and girls in an ideal, symmetrical way. We may not feel very certain as to just how this ideal juvenile society should be constructed. Nevertheless, an attempt will be made to sketch in this chapter a working plan therefor. Some may see fit to adapt it, while others may improve it through practice.

What especially needs to be thought of in the development of any normal young life is the problem of rounding out the character on all sides. There are certain fundamental character-forming experiences and disciplines, such as work, play, recreation, and social intercourse. Many parents seem to be possessed of the idea that they can develop their children through play and social training alone. Others seem to believe that hard work and plenty of it is all that is necessary for the development of a substantial character in the young. Still others appear to allow their boys and girls to roam at will and to indulge them only in the recreative experiences. But how indefensible the idea that anyone should try to find permanent joy and satisfaction through recreative experiences without first having had as their counterpart the experience of work and the responsibilities that pertain thereto!

[Pg 199]So, again, it may be contended that there is a happy mean between the over-work and the absence of social experience so common in the farming communities and the lack of work and the extreme social excitement that so often obtains in the life of the city child.

A social renaissance in the country

There is becoming more and more apparent the necessity of not only a revival of the social life in the country, but also the demand for its reconstruction. It is especially to be desired that the reorganization be effected under the guidance of sound principles of psychology and sociology. That is, it must be based on the fundamental fact of the sex instinct so prominent during the adolescent period, and the further fact of the imperative demand at this time for a large amount of social intercourse. How differently this point of view persistently held will shape the matter as compared with the older ideal of merely “giving the young folks a good time”! Yes, the social life of adolescent boys and girls has its source in the sex instinct then so predominant. It is not therefore to be viewed as a piece of superficial sentimentality, but rather as a profound law of nature.

As suggested by two or three of the preceding chapters, there may be organized a social center in the church, or other such centers may develop independently through the leadership of some mature persons. But instances of this class of effective[Pg 200] organization are as yet few and far between. Meanwhile, the young are growing up and their present social needs are very pressing. Individual farmers cannot wait for neighborhood movements; and so the parents of the children requiring the social life must themselves take the initiative in the matter.

Conditions to guard against

Before proceeding to a detailed outline of various plans for supplying the social needs of rural young people, it may be well to point out a few of the pitfalls to be guarded against. In reference to the latter, it is not the purpose to advise parents to try to place their children in an exclusive social set. Far from that. The purpose is rather the converse; namely, to urge parents to attempt to build up good, clean characters in their boys and girls and yet permit the latter to mingle freely with common humanity. An aristocracy in the towns and cities is bad enough and a thing wholly out of harmony with the best and highest interpretation of our national life; but an aristocracy in the country neighborhood is an abomination.

But while the so-called best families must think of their young as growing members of the entire social community and not as belonging to an exclusive set, there is nevertheless great need of constant watchfulness in respect to certain evils that always threaten the lives of farmers’ sons and daughters.

[Pg 201]1. The social companionships of girls.—Of course it must be admitted that there is frequently present in the country neighborhood some vile or wicked young character whose influence is very pernicious. On one occasion this person may appear in the guise of an exemplary young man, smooth in manners, stylishly dressed, and apparently interested in the best affairs. But as a matter of fact, he may be secretly an agent for some infamous institution in the city. The records show that thousands of country girls have been enticed away to the cities by such characters only to meet an untimely and awful fate. The parents of the country girl should therefore know who the young man is with whom she keeps company. Usually it is a comparatively easy matter to test his worth. If he have no fixed local attachment in a home, and no permanent business relations in the community, he may be regarded with suspicion at least, and may be compelled to furnish evidence of his moral integrity.

Another type of the young country man unworthy of the company and companionship of the young woman is the one who is known by the men of the community as being habituated to the use of vile and indecent language, or to the practice of drinking intoxicants. If such be among his known characteristics, the evidence is decidedly unfavorable, making him unsuitable as a social companion of the country girl. It is reasonable to predict that he will[Pg 202] never change his ways very radically, and especially that he will not develop into a desirable life companion for the daughter. Some good parents make the fatal blunder of allowing their girl to keep company with such a coarse-grained young man simply because he is so “good hearted,” and “means well,” and the like. To say the least, a depraved social taste will gradually develop in the girl’s life if she continue in such company.

Another contamination for the country girl sometimes results from the depraved young woman who has drifted into the neighborhood. The girl herself will be in the best position to detect such a type, as the latter will be marked by her coarse manners when in the presence of the girls, and by her practice of discussing obscene matters in private conversation with them. This is the situation in which the innocent young girl’s mind may become forever poisoned and her wholesome faith in humanity entirely too much unsettled.

2. Bad companionships for boys. Similar warnings as those given above need to be sounded with reference to the young country boys, and others as well. Farm boys are necessarily much in the company of men of very common tastes and low ideals. They hear not a little evil conversation and profanity, as it is used by such men. As a result, there will be need of much constructive teaching at home. Admonitions, warnings, and advice will be necessary.

[Pg 203]In every instance it is well for the parents to remind the boy of the great interest they have in his welfare, of how deeply he may grieve them by taking up any of the evil practices in question, and of the high ideal which they hold in mind for his future.

Farm parents will need to keep up an intimate and frank exchange of ideas with their youthful son on the general subjects discussed in this chapter. They may ask him to repeat all he has heard and to relate all he has seen, good and bad, they then offering their corrections and admonitions. The especial danger is that the boy may acquire evil forms of speech, pernicious ideas for his secret thoughts, and a too low estimate of the worth of humanity. The vile companion is especially inclined to make the youth believe that there is no purity of character among girls and women—a most lamentable state of mind for a boy or a man of any age.

The boy in the country is not only very much in danger of having his mind contaminated by the evil speech and the evil misinformation mentioned above, but there is always the possibility of his being enticed by some older and depraved companion into the company of evil women. Strange to say, there are a few men who seem to plan deliberately this form of downfall for innocent boys and to regard the success of their vile plot in the light of a mere joke. It is perhaps a fault of society that such men are permitted to run at large. And it is especially the fault[Pg 204] of fathers if such men keep company with their boys. No matter how excellent the family history, how well-born the boy may be, and how carefully he has been admonished, there is always some danger of his yielding to an evil sex temptation—a situation which the parent should always be watchful about and ready to meet.

3. Secret sex habits.—It is probable that country boys are more prone to secret perversions of their sex life than are city boys. The enforced solitude of the former and the increased opportunities for such secret evil may be accountable for the difference. In any event, there is necessity of constant watchfulness, and that especially until the son has reached comparative maturity of the physical body. The danger is at its height at the beginning of the adolescent period, fourteen to sixteen years of age. But the preparation for meeting the possible sex perversion should be begun very early and consist in frank talks and admonitions. The small boy’s questions about the origin of life must be answered frankly but only to the extent of imparting to him enough information to satisfy his present curiosity. Thus to satisfy his childish curiosity will prove a means of counteracting the evil influences of the bad companionships referred to above. Then, the youth needs to be shown some instances of the ruinous effects of sex perversion in boys and men, together with the inculcation of the idea that any such evil practice will cut[Pg 205] off the possibility of his realizing the high standards of moral character set for him. It is well also to remember that prevention of the boy’s misuse of his sex life is comparatively easy and that cure is extremely difficult.

4. The so-called bad habits.—When we speak of the “bad habits” among boys and men we are inclined to think of swearing, smoking, and the use of intoxicants. Without thought of defending the practice of profanity, we may say that it is often acquired in an innocent fashion and that it ordinarily implies no conscious or intentional evil. That is, it is usually not so bad in its actual analysis as it sounds to the listener. Moreover, it is a habit which many boys take up and afterwards discontinue when once they have set up for themselves high standards of manliness.

With juvenile smoking the case is different. Without the thought of offending the adult smoker or defending adult smoking, we may say with a high degree of certainty that the use of tobacco is extremely hurtful to growing boys. It weakens and deranges the organic processes, leaves its deleterious effects in the throat, eyes, and lungs, and breaks down the natural constitutional defense so essential in time of such diseases as pneumonia and typhoid fever. On the mental side, tobacco lessens the boy’s ability to study. Very wide investigations have shown that the habitual smokers among school boys[Pg 206] rank low in scholarship; that they are prone to fail in their classes and quit the schools; that almost none of them take high rank as students. The moral effects are even worse. In times of temptation the young boy who smokes is more inclined to yield and to choose the worse form of conduct instead of the better. He lacks especially that fine sense of inner worth so necessary for the one who would succeed in arousing his own moral courage sufficiently to withstand the temptations that naturally beset young life. The rural parents will not of course despair about the boy or turn against him should they discover that he has secretly become confirmed in the use of tobacco. There are still possibilities of his development into a substantial character; but because of his smoking the problem becomes a much more involved and difficult one.

All that has just been said in reference to tobacco may be emphasized many fold in respect to intoxicants. To allow a growing boy to begin the use of intoxicating drink in any form seems to be wholly indefensible. However, if there are open saloons in the adjoining town or city, even the best country boys are always somewhat in danger of taking the first false step. Rural parents must not be satisfied with the thought that their boy is “too good” to take up such a thing; they must be assured that he is not doing so. Now, the only way to obtain such assurance is by means of keeping in intimate touch[Pg 207] with the boy and his movements—by knowing when and where he goes, why he goes there, and whom he meets in the various places visited on his rounds. Thus, he may be saved from a life of debauch and degradation, and that by means of providing carefully that he reach his full maturity of mind and body without any knowledge of the taste of intoxicating drinks.

A center of community life

As explained in a number of preceding chapters, there are being carried out several plans for bringing about a social awakening in the farm districts. Some of these are succeeding admirably, especially the county Y.M.C.A., and in a few instances the rural church. But presumably there are many thousands of country districts wherein these helpful agencies will not be found for many years to come. So, in the following lines there will be an attempt to furnish detailed methods and suggestions to rural parents who are under the necessity of assisting their own children in a social way. The discussion thus far has been of a somewhat destructive order. Now, something of a constructive nature will be offered.

The first essential in the awakening of a clean social life for the young is a center of effort. If there be no church or clubhouse of any kind within easy access of all, then the farm home may be made use of for this service. There are many advantages in the[Pg 208] common country home as a social center for the young, among them being the probable presence of some sympathetic parent to offer guidance and to keep down unbecoming conduct.

Invite the young to the house

So, if country parents are really in earnest about doing something to develop their own children in a social way, let them throw open their own homes for the purpose. In a certain Iowa home this thing was done in an admirable manner. Let the father tell the story in his own language:—

“For years we had a room in the house which we called the ‘parlor.’ It contained some expensive furniture which the members of the family scarcely ever saw, as the place was usually kept closed up and dark. Why we reserved such a dark, musty room for the ‘special company’ that came two or three times each year, I do not know. At any rate, we decided to make the place useful. In remodeling the house we enlarged it to 16 by 20 feet in size and added one very large window.

Plate XXIII.

Fig. 30.—An agricultural and domestic science club in Oklahoma. Without being so named, it is also distinctively a social club, and a splendid socializing and refining agency.

“Here we made a society room for the young people of the neighborhood. Extra chairs were obtained, also a large new stove and fixtures for gaslights. There were also some simple wall decorations and a small library and reading table. That was two years ago. Since then our two boys and two girls have given many parties in that room and no one [Pg 209]has got more enjoyment out of the affairs than their parents. We feel as if that room was the best investment we ever made.”

Not nearly all anxious parents may be so situated as to follow the excellent plan described above, but it is certainly worthy of a trial by all who can avail themselves of its benefits. Best of all, the young people in whose behalf this thoughtful endeavor is put forth will most certainly grow to maturity confirmed in the belief that the country life is not lacking in its social enjoyments.

How to conduct a social entertainment

In giving a social entertainment to the young people of the country, there are a few simple yet common matters to be observed. First of all, there is the frequent tendency toward reticence or backwardness. It will be remembered, of course, that the object of the occasion is not merely passing amusement for the young, but also that of furnishing some means of character-development. In fact, the author wishes that every chapter of this book be thought of as contributing something toward the building up of young lives. So, in case of the home party, it will be necessary to see that every one present takes some active part. The bashful youth who is merely permitted to sit by and look on will go home secretly displeased, if not much pained, at his own backwardness. He may even fail to appear again on such an[Pg 210] occasion, and thus the availability of a most helpful agency be permanently lost to him.

It is not therefore so much a question of the dignity and importance of the games played as it is a question of the active engagement of every one present in the amusements. Much will depend on leadership. An able leader will have the group organized before the several members realize what is being done. An expert student and director of young people was seen on a certain occasion to take charge of a party of forty boys and girls ranging in age from fifteen to twenty years. These were quickly placed standing in two parallel lines of twenty each. Each side was given a dish of unhulled peanuts and asked to engage in a contest of passing the nuts down the line one at a time, from hand to hand, the one at the farther end of the line placing the nuts in a receptacle. This simple game “broke the ice” for the entire evening. After that it was easy to keep the entertainment going.

The supervisor of the social affair is advised to discourage all games that tend to an over-amount of silliness and that allow for undue familiarity of the sexes. There is, however, a dignified form of fun and merriment quite as enjoyable as the baser sort. And, too, the leader of the evening need not be reminded of the many little opportunities for inculcating wholesome lessons in dignified manners. Many a “green” and awkward country youth is started on[Pg 211] the way to salvation through the courteous treatment he receives from some older and much respected person. Simply to treat him as if he were a dignified young gentleman amounts to inciting him to put forth his greatest effort to make a show of manliness. A close student of young nature will often observe that merely to address such a youth as “Mister” So-and-So causes him to straighten up and try to look the part.

The hostess and guide at the rural party of young people will err not a little if she feels under the necessity of preparing a banquet or even a heavy luncheon for the occasion. Something as simple as a light drink and a wafer or two will be quite enough. The object of the refreshments is not merely to feed the young people to the point of stupefaction, but rather to give physical tone to support the vivacity of all.

What about the country dance

Unless the country dance can be radically reformed, it must be very strongly advised against. There is something about this occasion as usually conducted which seems to invite coarse characters and disreputable conduct. The country dance has so often been the scene of vice, drunkenness, and other such evils as to have received a permanent stigma of cheapness. The only seeming possibility of making a success of it is by the method of inviting a very exclusive set to attend, and this thing is so suggestive[Pg 212] of aristocracy and snobbishness as to cause not a little ill feeling in the neighborhood. Under present conditions the country dance cannot be so managed as to make it contribute to the social and moral uplift of country young people. There are many better forms of entertainment which may be substituted for it.

Along with the country dance should be rated the cheap professional entertainments that are so often given in the country school houses. Many of these are not only degrading but are morally evil in their suggestions, while they tend to give the young a depraved taste in respect to public shows and theaters. The school trustees may well exclude all such “shows” from the building.

Additional forms of entertainment

The farm parents most desirous of leading in the young people’s entertainments, and best fitted to do so, may find it impracticable to invite the young into their home. In such case, there are several other ways whereby the desired ends may be achieved.

Plate XXIV.

Fig. 31.—A rural scene in Canada, where the church and the school are situated together. The large barn in the background is significant. Much of the daily thought and conversation is centered here.

1. The social hour at the religious services.—It is deemed quite advisable that those who plan the religious service in the country have thought of a social hour in connection therewith. The latter may prove fully as helpful in a constructive sense as the former, and it can in no wise detract from the value of the religious meeting. This combination [Pg 213]of events is already being successfully tried in a number of places. For example, at the mid-week evening service, there is given first an hour to the prayer meeting or the discussion of the religious topics and the church work. After that, the scene is changed into one of clean, wholesome amusement with the special thought of giving the young people social entertainment and training. It has been found that this very method of uniting the religious and social service under a carefully planned program sometimes more than doubles the attendance. Of course the first essential for the success of such a meeting is that an able leader be in charge of it.

2. A country literary society.—In times gone by the country literary society has played a mighty part indirectly in the building of the nation. Many a statesman or leader of the people has received his first aid and inspiration at the little old country “literary and debating society.” There is no good reason why this same general form of society might not continue to do its effective work. However, in its best form, there will be some additions to the old procedure of merely debating the important public questions. The program makers may well have in mind the ideal of bringing out every form of talent latent among the young of the community. It is especially advisable that every young attendant be given an invitation to do the part of which he is most capable, and that he be urged to do it. It is quite[Pg 214] possible to arrange a program upon which only the ablest and most capable young persons of the neighborhood may appear. But such would be a violation of the best purpose of the society; namely, not merely to provide a first-class entertainment, but an entertainment which shall bring out the greatest possible variety of talent and awaken interest and enthusiasm on the part of every member.

Then, let the motto of the ideal country literary society be, “Something worth while for every member to do.” The old-fashioned country society, like the older public school, was too narrow. It touched life and awakened interests in only a few places. The old school tested a boy in the three R’s and geography. If he did well in these, he was “smart.” If he failed in the traditional subjects, he was branded as a dullard and crowded out of the school, although in respect to some other untested activities he may have been a slumbering genius. So with the primitive “literary and debating society”; debating and “speaking pieces” were practically the only numbers on the program and usually only the ablest were allowed to appear. Ordinary talent in debating and reciting and all manner of promising talent in other lines was allowed to slumber on in the lives of many of the young people in attendance. Now, it is practically a certainty that every member of the young literary society can perform a part very acceptably, provided the discerning leader know what[Pg 215] that part is. And best of all, the bringing out of such talent means the awakening of many other splendid interests among the youthful members of the community, and finally the development of moral courage and other forms of manliness and womanliness.

Now, to come to the point of a social result, the so-called literary entertainment can easily be made up in two parts, the literary and the social; and there should be set apart an hour for the latter.

3. The social side of the economic clubs.—In many instances, there will be organized boys’ corn-raising or crop-improvement clubs, and with them country clubs of the girls interested in household economy. These club meetings may be made the occasion of not a little social improvement. The boys and girls may meet at the same hour and place, and after the business has been disposed of there may be a coming together in a social way. Such arrangement is highly advisable for two reasons. First, it will certainly increase the membership of the clubs; and, second, the social instincts of the young people may be suitably indulged.

Some concluding suggestions

The leader interested in the foregoing plans may again be reminded of the necessity of instituting a social organization of such a nature as to touch all the young lives in the neighborhood. The rules and regulations governing the society should there[Pg 216]fore be drawn on broad and liberal lines, not forgetting the great possibilities of awakening slumbering interests and aptitudes, and of building up a social community that will draw young people to it.

If one will take the time to drive for a hundred miles in a direct line through the farm districts, as the author has done, he will be not a little surprised at the striking contrast in the social conditions of the various neighborhoods passed through. In one instance he will be told that there is absolutely nothing present to invite the young—a dull, dead place with perhaps many run-down farms and farm homes to keep it company. He will learn that the young people of such a community are running off to some neighboring town where many of them find a cheap and degrading class of entertainment. But the next adjoining neighborhood may present a converse situation. One will be told that the young people are happy and contented there, that they have frequent meetings of their social clubs and other forms of organization; most probably the appearance of the neighborhood will be likewise much better than that of the other one mentioned. Attractive homes, well-kept roads and hedges, and other evidences of prosperity will meet one’s view.

In one district visited, the author found that this better situation had an interesting history and that it was nearly all traceable to a quarter of a century of public-spiritedness of one man. This resident had[Pg 217] settled upon a quarter section of good land. While he was reconstructing his own home and its surroundings into a place of attractiveness, he was continually engaged in awakening the entire neighborhood in behalf of better things. He had led out in establishing a well-attended Sunday school in the district, had been instrumental in instituting regular preaching service there twice each month, had led the entire neighborhood out on more than one occasion for a day’s work in improving and beautifying the school grounds, had been the organizer and director of the country literary society, and of more than one club of farmers and their wives. During all this time he was correspondent for one or two county papers and used every occasion for advertising the home community. All together, it was a most commendable and far-reaching service which this one man performed for his own neighborhood. So, it may be said that wherever there is one inspired leader in a country community, there is life.

Finally, it may be urged that the biggest thing in the rural community is not the big crop of corn or wheat or the excellent breeds of live stock. Important as these things are, the great concern of the community should be the development of sterling character in the lives of the growing boys and girls and the cleanness and integrity of the personalities of every one within the neighborhood limits. To that end let this social center ideal be actualized,[Pg 218] becoming a place toward which the thoughts of all will go frequently and fondly during the hours of care and toil. Let it be made a place the thought of which will forever impart a full measure of good cheer, of contentment, and of honest courage to the mind of every member of the society thereabout. Let it be a place so ordered and arranged that things sacred and divine may reach down to the things often thought of as very commonplace and mean, and exalt the latter to their true and proper place. Lastly, let it be earnestly desired and planned for that every heart in the rural district shall be rekindled with a living fire of enthusiasm in behalf of the general improvement—of interest in the things that are high and divine, and of affection and good will toward all in the community. Let some local resident rise up as leader and bring this order of things to pass, and the social experiences of the young people will naturally become of such a nature as to develop them into men and women of great worth and efficiency.


Wider Use of the School Plant. Clarence Arthur Perry. Chapter IX, “Social Centers.” Charities Publication Committee, N.Y.

Chapters on Rural Progress. Kenyon L. Butterfield. Chapter XIV, “The Social Side of the Farm Question.” University of Chicago Press.

Development and Education. M. V. O’Shea. Chapter XIV, “Problems of Training.” Houghton, Mifflin Company.

Social Control. Edward A. Ross. Ph.D. Chapters VII and VIII, “The Need and Direction of Social Control.” Macmillan.

[Pg 219]

The Girl Wanted. Nixon Waterman. Forbes & Co., Chicago. A wholesome and cheering book for girls.

Confidences. Edith B. F. Lowry, M.D. Forbes & Co. Plain, helpful talks regarding the sex life of girls.

See the excellent editorial article, “Forces that Move Upward,” Farmer’s Voice, June 15, 1911.

Causes of Delinquency Among Girls. Falconer. Annals American Academy. Vol. 36, p. 77.

Democracy and Education. Dr. J. B. Storms. Annual Volume N.E.A., 1907, p. 62.

The Efficient Life. Dr. L. H. Gulick. Chapter III, “Life That is Worth While.” Doubleday, Page Company.

The Ideals of a Country Boy. A. D. Holloway in Rural Manhood, May, 1910.

Why Not Education on the Sex Question. Editorial article. Review of Reviews, January, 1910.

Report of Vice Commission of Chicago. Chapter V, “Child Protection and Education.” Guntorf-Warren Printing Co., Chicago.

The Spirit of Democracy. Charles Fletcher Dole. Chapter XXIX, “The Education for a Democracy.” Crowell & Co.

The Education of the Boy of To-morrow. A. D. Dean. World’s Work, April, 1911. Prize essay.

College and the Rural Districts. W. N. Stearns. Education, April, 1911.

The Boy Problem. Educational pamphlet No. 4. Society for Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis, N.Y. 10 cents. Treats ably the question of social purity.

Genesis. A Manual for Instruction of Children in Matters of Sex. B. S. Talmey, M.D. Practitioners’ Publishing Company, N.Y.

[Pg 220]



The theory that the boys and girls who grow up in the country must in time become settled in farm homes of their own has neither logic nor psychology nor common sense to support it. It is never a question of whether or not a boy will take up the work of his father, but whether or not he will find at length the true and only calling for which his nature is best fitted. If the parents of the country boy will keep the latter question clearly in mind, many a problem in the latter’s rearing will be made much easier.

In order to break the monotony of the style of expression, much of this chapter will be addressed somewhat directly to the father of the country boy.

What is in your boy?

If a man should come suddenly into possession of a piece of land having a productive soil, one of his first questions in regard to the soil would be, What will it best grow? Farmers blundered and starved along for generations in an attempt to make a first-class farm produce the wrong crops, or to produce the right crop through the wrong manner of treatment; and[Pg 221] this simply because they used methods of tradition and guess rather than those of science.

Now apply the foregoing situation to the boy problem, if you will. So long as we attempt to secure from him the wrong results and deal with him by wrong methods, we are likely to conclude that there is “nothing in him.” Therefore, in order to act intelligently and helpfully in the matter of giving the young son a business relation to farm life, it is first necessary to determine, as far as may be possible, the bent of his mind, remembering that the great artist, the great writer, or the great captain of industry is just as likely to be born in the country home as elsewhere. In fact, we shall learn in time, much to our advantage, that there must be a careful sifting process which will result in sending some of the country-bred young men directly to their important places in the city, and some of the city-bred youths to the rural industries.

Much experimentation necessary

The one who undertakes to develop a boy’s interest in business affairs has really before him a problem in experimental psychology. Many of the youth’s best aptitudes are necessarily still slumbering and unknown to either himself or others. The fundamental steps preparatory for a successful commercial venture on the part of a young man are comparatively few but none of them can safely be omitted. They are as follows:—

[Pg 222]1. Willingness to work.—In this connection, perhaps something will be recalled from Chapter IX. We may at least be reminded of the difference in the attitude of mind of the boy who regards labor as a painful necessity and the one who enjoys a willingness to work. So long as the youth feels as if he were driven to his tasks there is little hope of arousing his interest in the business side of it. His mind will continue too much on the problem of avoiding work and on ways and means by which to get something for nothing.

There is probably a period of dishonesty in the life of every normal youth. Following the dawn of adolescence there is a great wave of new interest and new meaning coming to him out of the business and social world. The world is so full of interesting enticements. Everything looks to be good and within easy reach. He is especially prone to accept material things at their advertised value. He spends his dimes for prize boxes thought to contain gold rings and other such finery. His quarters and half dollars frequently go in payment for the “valuable” things offered “free for the price of the transportation,” the purpose of this tempting gift being “simply for the sake of introducing the goods.”

But it is well to see the boy safe through this period of allurement. So long as the world seems to hold out so many highly valued things which may be had for a trifle the youth will see little need of his work[Pg 223]ing to obtain them. So, attend him in his efforts to get something for nothing. Permit him to be stung a few times and thus teach him how and where to look for the sting. Finally, impress him with the thought that every material thing worth while represents the price of somebody’s honest labor. At length he will see the reasonableness of industry and settle down with a purpose of making his way through life by means of honest endeavor. You now have the youth so far on his way to successful business undertaking.

2. Ability to save.—All healthy boys are naturally inclined to be spendthrifts. Saving a part of one’s means is a fine art acquired only through judicious practice. It is assumed that the young son is being reasonably paid for certain required tasks. So the next duty is to see that he saves a part of his earnings. For the purpose of this training in saving, a toy bank may be procured; or he may be directed in depositing a small weekly sum in a penny savings bank. Still another way is to teach him to keep a book account of his earnings, giving him due-bills for the amounts withheld from his wages.

There is one small business practice, the importance of which for the boy is too frequently overlooked; that is, the practice of carrying a small amount of change in his pocket. He must learn to use his money thoughtfully and not merely on every occasion of his being allowed to have it. He must acquire[Pg 224] the habit of self-restraint in the use of money. To do this is to learn to spend judiciously. To have reached this stage of financial training is a sufficient guarantee that the youth is proceeding well on his way toward success in business enterprise.

Start on a small scale

Then, give your growing son as wide a variety of experience in work and in watching business affairs as the situation will permit of. During the process of this mental growth help him to make a small investment in something that will grow and increase under his intelligent care. Let us assume that your specialty is a certain strain of corn or a certain breed of cattle. If the boy shows an interest in this matter, start him in at an early age, say ten to fourteen, on his own account. Give him in exchange for his work a small plot of ground on which to grow corn, perhaps with a view to his later entering the boys’ contest for a prize. Or, help him to get a small beginning in the cattle business.

But in case the lad shows no interest in your business, do not let the matter seriously trouble you for a moment. Simply continue to give him his general education, including the best school course available and a training in the performance of work as well as the judicious use of the spending money that may come into his hands. Careful study of the boy may indicate to you that his aptitude for business runs in[Pg 225] the direction of something to which you are giving little or no attention but to which you may in time bring him.

There is the case of a successful wheat raiser who discovered his son’s fondness for thoroughbred cattle. So the boy was carefully started on a small scale in the business of raising short-horns. To-day that son is known far and wide as an able specialist in this line of stock breeding. Now, if the father in this case had done as thousands of other farmers are still doing; namely, if he had attempted to force the boy, against the latter’s natural inclination, to take up wheat raising or any other undesirable business, then, the son would have most probably skipped off for the city and secured a fourth-rate place for the mere wages it would bring. Some day this tragic, oft-repeated story of mismanagement and misdirection of the growing boy will come out in all its distressing details.

Give your son a square deal

Deal with your young son on business principles from the beginning. Do not hastily and unwisely give him a piece of property that will have to be taken from him in the future because of its having grown into a disproportionate value. This old form of mistreatment of the country boy has been the means of thwarting the business integrity of many a promising youth.

[Pg 226]If the boy’s small beginning develops under his care into a business of large proportions, the only check or hindrance that the ethics of the case will allow is that you treat with him on fair business terms, just as you would with any good business man. You may cause him to bear all his own personal expenses and all the expense connected with the care and development of his live stock or crop. Then the matter of curtailing him must stop. And if the son soon becomes able to buy you out, it is certainly an affair to be proud of, not a thing to hinder by unfair means.

Keep the boy’s perfect good will

It is a serious matter to lose the boy’s confidence or in any way break faith with him, even though there be nothing about the place in which you can make him take a business interest. As he grows to maturity his own inner nature must gradually guide him into the way of a calling—and a divine calling at that it may prove to be. It may not seem out of place to quote the words of a religious teacher who says: “Do you not know that if one’s inner nature points out clearly and inspiringly what he should undertake for a life work, such thing may be regarded as the Voice of the Divine One speaking faithfully through the instrumentality of one of his own creatures?”

So it may prove at length that you will have to sell[Pg 227] a load of corn in order to set up in the garret of your house a miniature art studio of some kind for your young son. Or, perhaps you may have to establish a small machine shop as an adjunct to the barn or wood shed, wherein the budding genius may blossom into that beauty of manly power and efficiency which all the world is glad to admire. Out of just such a wise indulgence as that last named a certain Kansas boy finally became enabled to revolutionize the old farm home and the work done there through the installation of an excellent motor power plant. Electric light for the house and barn, power for operating feed grinder, washing machine, grindstone, fanning mill, and many other such machines—all this has resulted from the rightly directed work of a youth who could have easily been driven to the city into some treadmill of mere wage earning.

But, occasionally the boy will prove himself a versatile character, succeeding in a measure in every line of small business to which you introduce him, yet showing a marked success in none. In such case the advisable thing to do is to continue his general education for a longer period than is necessary for the boy who shows an early inclination toward a given line of work.

Some will be retained on the farm

It is admittedly desirable, all things fairly considered, that many of the very best boys remain on[Pg 228] the farm and help develop rural life into what it should be. Hence the necessity of finding a way to interest such boys in some of the many business affairs connected with the farm home. Perhaps there is no better way to develop the lad’s interest in the affairs of the place than that of allowing him to participate in the practical business transactions as the conditions may allow. Let the parents take him to the store, the bank, and other such places for the benefit of his experience. Send him in with the produce with authority to sell and to invest a part of the proceeds in whatever the family may need. The father should have the boy with him when selecting and buying machinery or live stock at public sales. Send him to the bank with checks or drafts to be deposited or collected. Give him an opportunity to keep the family accounts, or at least to keep his own recorded in a book.

The ordinary farmer can think of more ways than the foregoing whereby to give his growing son the needed experience in money matters. The best result of such practice is that if there be anything in connection with the affairs of the farm in which the boy will have a native interest this aptitude will be discovered; and it can then be made the basis of the young man’s introduction into a successful participation in some practical business. The boy’s permanent calling is seriously involved in this discussion. On page 279 of this book will be found a description of three methods of vocational training.

[Pg 229]

The awakening often comes from without

Parents who find it difficult to arouse the farm boy’s interest in any part of the home business may sometimes easily secure the desired result by sending the youth away on a trip to the county fair or other such place. As a means of stimulating boys in respect to some kind of productive home industry the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College instituted a school of agriculture for country youths at the state fair. Each organized farmers’ institute and each county superintendent was asked to send one boy. A large tent was furnished by the college. This served for a lecture and display room during the day and a boys’ sleeping room during the night.

At the first session 122 boys attended, coming from 57 counties. The lectures covered such subjects as farm crops, veterinary science, track and field athletics. The displays at the fair were used for illustrative matter. So far the results of the school have been reported most favorable. An increasing number of boys throughout the state are making preparation for it.

An awakening in the south

It is most encouraging to observe the changing ideals of business and industry now in progress throughout the nation. The many vocational-training schools and the increasing attendance at the[Pg 230] mechanical and industrial colleges bear witness of this fact. The American Negro, ever a faithful laborer, is now being taught in such institutions as Tuskegee and Hampton, not only to perform some honest work well but also to plan and prepare for a business of his own.

The son of the southern planter is becoming more and more imbued with the new spirit of efficiency through personal industry. On this matter a member of the faculty of the Louisiana Agricultural and Mechanical College says: “It is a mistake to think that the best of the country youth of the south are continuing in the old-fashioned ideal of becoming mere gentlemen of culture and leisure. In 1910 there were nearly 50,000 boys living in a dozen of the southern states, who astonished the entire country with their achievements in corn-raising. They ranged in age from fifteen to eighteen years. At the national exhibit held in Columbus, Ohio, one hundred of them showed an average yield of 134 bushels of corn to the acre. This corn-growing practice is under the direction of the national government, and is more than a big, exciting contest, it is a splendid course in rural home education.

Plate XXV.

Fig. 32.—A group of “coming” Kansans. Every boy pictured here carried away some sort of prize at a state corn show.

“We have at this college hundreds of young men from the plantations and they are intensely interested in working out the industrial problems that pertain to their own home affairs. I have been surprised at their eagerness to get into the soil and to do the me[Pg 231]chanical work connected with their studies. All over the south there seems to be an awakening among the boys and young men, of an interest in the industrial and commercial problems of the plantation.”

The farm papers and the educational magazines in the southern states give much evidence of this same sort of awakening. The farmers’ and planters’ organizations, the local improvement and school betterment clubs, and many other movements, are giving both incentive and direction to the country youths who are at all inclined to find an interest in the home affairs. The rural parents who desire outside aid in arousing their boys’ interest in the home business may well seek such assistance by bringing the latter into closer touch with one of these progressive organizations.

Partnership between father and son

After the farmer’s son has fully settled upon his father’s business as an ideal one for himself, there may be brought to the latter a gradual relief from the worry of details, and that through a partnership management. A. G. Hulting, Jr., of Geneseo, Illinois, thus describes such a plan of coöperation in a letter to Arthur J. Bill, the agricultural writer:—

“We have 160 acres of land in the farm. My father owns the land. I do the work, provide all the labor, horses, and machinery, and we have an equal[Pg 232] interest in the live stock and we share equally in the net returns.”

Other terms of coöperation have proved successful. In many cases, the son rents all or a part of the place on terms similar to those allowed the outside renter; excepting that he is usually given the advantages of free board and the use of the home conveniences. In all such business transactions between father and son it is highly advisable that the contract be carefully drawn in writing. The verbal contract is proverbially a trouble maker, and that even among relatives.

Summary and concluding suggestions

1. Not nearly all promising youths can be encouraged to take a vital interest in the father’s business.

2. In case the boy cannot be induced to take a permanent interest in anything on the home farm, he may at least have much practice in the transaction of the small business connected therewith.

3. The ability to work willingly, the ideal that an honest living is to be earned through personal effort, and the practice of saving a part of the weekly or monthly earnings—these will give any boy an excellent start on the road to success and affluence.

4. Deal with the young son on business principles from the first, seeing that he shares reasonably in the losses as well as in the gains. Although his interest in any chosen line of work may not become vital till he makes some money out of it,[Pg 233] hold him persistently in line during the “lean” years and thus allow him to learn the excellent lessons of failure.

5. It may prove unfair to the members of the family to permit one of the sons to secure control of the business of the home farm. Some pathetic instances of this kind have really occurred. For the sake of the peace and well-being of all, such an occurrence must be prevented by careful forethought.

6. On the other hand, in case where the boy has started with a scrawny pig or through renting a piece of the home place, and, after dealing fair and square with all, has come into possession of considerable property of his own, do not wrest it from him or in any way take advantage of his minority. Such a youth will in time most probably reflect high credit upon the family.

7. Finally, the farm parent needs to be warned against the possibility of developing his son into a mere money-maker. Such is a poor standard of success. The man whose only aim in life is merely to prosper financially is a poor citizen of any community. Teach the boy to succeed in his business ventures, but at the same time imbue him with the thought that his money wealth must be regarded as so much opportunity to help build up the community, the state, and the nation. Teach him that financial success is worthy of the name only when it is linked with social efficiency.

[Pg 234]


Again we find the field of literature treating the subject directly an exceedingly scant one. In forming a business partnership with his son the farmer should be guided by well-tried precedent. A letter of specific inquiry to one of the leading agricultural papers will most usually bring a helpful reply.

A First Lesson in Thrift. Horace Ellis. Psychological Clinic, March 15, 1910.

Industrial Education for Rural Communities. Annual Volume N.E.A., 1907, p. 412.

The Child’s Sense of the Value of Money. Dr. William E. Ashcroft. S.S. Times, July 24, 1909.

Psychology and Higher Life. William A. McKeever. Chapter XIV, “The Psychology of Work.” A. Flanagan Company, Chicago.

Industrial Education. Various Authors. (Pamphlet, 25 cents.) The Survey, N.Y.

Industrial Education. Kimball. No. 1, Educational Monograph Series, School of Education, Cornell University.

[Pg 235]



During a two-hour ride on a railway train the author had as a seat companion a sixty-year-old farmer and stock raiser, whose specialty was that of raising mules for the market. And what of definite information this good husbandman possessed about the long-eared beast of burden would fill a volume of considerable size. He knew just what time of year the mule should be foaled, when weaned, when broken to the halter and to work; how to feed and groom a mule in order to get the best physical growth; how to train the animal so as to develop all the latent good qualities and repress the bad ones.

After the natural life history of the faithful mule had been carefully reviewed by the rural companion the conversation was turned to the subject of girls. Had he a daughter? “Yes, twenty-two years old.” What did she know about money and the common affairs of business? “Business! Mighty little any woman knows about business,” said he. “We buy our girl what she needs and have put her through the town high school. I expect her to get married some[Pg 236]time. Her mother has taught her how to do housework.” Further than that the father seemed to know very little about his daughter, and he showed plainly that he did not consider this second topic of conversation half so interesting as the first one.

Is the country girl neglected?

Inquiry will prove that the foregoing case of parental ignorance and indifference about the daughter is all too common, especially the ignorance. It seems never to have occurred to many parents who have growing daughters that unless the young woman have a fair amount of knowledge of the value and use of money her future happiness and well-being and that of her family are in danger of becoming seriously jeopardized. It is a singular and yet lamentable fact that so many American parents,—parents too who are intensely desirous that their growing children have the best possible moral and religious teaching—that these same good parents fail to understand how one of the very foundation stones of efficient moral and religious life is constituted of a definite body of knowledge of common business affairs. They do not seem to realize that the young man or the young woman who knows from experience just how money is earned, and how it may be judiciously expended and profitably invested, is far on the way to a high plane of moral and religious living.

[Pg 237]However, there is probably no place of greater opportunities for developing sober judgment in the growing girl than that afforded by the ordinary farm home. For here the business management of the household and of the farm affairs are practically merged. There is the further advantage of a considerable variety of ways whereby the daughter may be remunerated for what she does. But, how may we best interpret this question? First of all, what in a practical sense is a satisfactory business training for a young woman, a farmer’s daughter in particular? Do we desire that she become a shrewd money-maker and successful a some sort of commercial life? Few would take such a position. But in order that the young woman may be fully prepared to fill her heaven-ordained place as the center and source of love and influence in a family, we must provide that she be given just such instruction in the use of money as will enable her to occupy her high position with the greatest possible success.

Why the girl leaves the farm

Under the title above the Farmer’s Voice prints portions of two letters which help to throw not a little light on this much-neglected subject. Miss Alta Hooper writes:—

“The one great cry going out from the people, and one also much in need of an answer, is ‘how to keep the boy on the farm.’ It is very seldom that the girl[Pg 238] of the farm is alluded to, although it may be that she is included, in a general way, in the great amount of literature concerning her brother. But, take it from the farmer girl that she is a live one, and unless money is coming into her pockets, unless she is comparatively independent and has some interest to keep her awake, she isn’t going to ‘stay put,’ but will get out where she can earn some money of her very own, to buy the little things so dear to the hearts of girls; and she will not be questioned and lectured and scolded over every little expenditure.

“Oh, the girls on the farm have minds and pride and ambition just as big as their brothers’ too; and in many cases they are not given half a chance to realize one iota of this ambition. It is then that a career off the farm and away from the farm home appeals to them. Then the thought comes that even though the salary to be earned may be small, still it is all one’s own, and there is no fear in planning where and in what it shall be invested.”

Likewise, Mrs. F. L. Stevens, writing for Progressive Farmer, says:—

“How often have we seen young girls leaving comfortable farm homes to go into typewriting, clerking, or bookkeeping, in order to have their own money. An allowance for personal expenses in the beginning would have solved this problem. But the father has not seen it that way.

Plate XXVI.

Fig. 33.—At a tender age girls are instinctively fond of doing such work as is displayed here. Strange to say, some mothers deny their little daughters the character-forming benefits of this childish occupation.

“It is not necessary that the daughter be given a [Pg 239]monthly or yearly allowance of so much cash, but the really better way, it would seem, would be to start her in some special branch of work, say, poultry-raising. Or perhaps she might be given a cow or a horse or a pig, which would in time bring in sums of money by careful management; and the business, a small one perhaps in the beginning, would easily develop. Many young girls like to work in a garden as the produce is always a good source of income and an interesting and educational work.”

Certain rules to be observed

If we are to give up the idea that the young woman naturally possesses the necessary business judgment, and to substitute the better idea that she must be taught how to manage her own affairs; then, What are the fundamental steps necessary to impart such instruction? It seems to the author that they are these:—

1. Teach the girl to work.—As was shown in a previous chapter, the girl must be taught carefully and conscientiously how to work. Even though she may be so fortunate—or unfortunate—as not to be compelled to do any of her own housework, only a first-hand knowledge of how such work goes on will enable her successfully to direct it. The strength of our democracy is much dependent upon the character of our women. The modern tendency toward the development of a leisure class[Pg 240] among the women and girls of the wealthier families is quite as much a menace to social solidarity as was the older order of keeping women in ignorance and servitude.

The problem of household help is much intensified because of the disfavor with which the so-called better classes of women look upon the vocation of the domestic employee. The necessary inequality of rank of the home mistress and her employees is more a matter of tradition and imagination than of reality. The social inequality which follows and which drives many young women into less advantageous places of employment will disappear just as soon as all growing girls are conducted through a carefully planned course of work and household industry. No farm parents can afford to deny the daughter the excellent disciplinary results of careful training in the performance of every ordinary household duty.

2. Teach her business sense.—In cases where the growing boy or girl is simply given spending money for the asking—or the begging—there results a perverted idea of the meaning of money. A girl so trained during her youthful years is inclined to take this same attitude toward her husband in the future. That is, she will probably regard it as necessary to beg for an allowance and deem it right and proper to spend all she can obtain in this way. The seriousness of such relations between man and wife is easily[Pg 241] seen. But the growing girl can be taught that money is merely a convenient unit of measurement of values which are produced chiefly by means of work.

Advanced students of our social life are putting forth much effort to solve the divorce problem. In their efforts to determine causes and to provide cures for divorce, some of them have gone so far as to advocate a school for matrimony, one of the ends being that of preventing incompatible persons from entering into the life union. Among the causes contributing to the divorce evil have been the radically different ideals of the use of money on the part of the contracting pair. An attorney of long standing experience with divorce cases says:—

“As a rule the woman who alleges non-support in her petition for divorce reveals the fact, before the case is ended, that she is lacking in the proper idea of the use of money, is often especially weak in knowledge of how the family income should be spent if the family affairs are to go on satisfactorily.”

3. Train her to transact personal business.—Then, begin early in her life to teach the girl to transact business affairs that relate to her personal interests and to the home life of women. Do not buy all the little articles necessary for her, but allow her, with money reasonably provided, to make her own minor purchases under your advice and direction. The intelligent farmer knows somewhat definitely what his yearly income and outlay are. Why should[Pg 242] not his daughter be told how these accounts run, in the usual year, and she then be asked to keep an account of all her own personal affairs for a year? Such required practice will do more than all the arithmetic lessons in the schools to inculcate an intimate knowledge of the value of money in relation to her own affairs—to say nothing of the good business judgment likely to be acquired.

Thus the country girl may receive a better business training than her city cousin whose nearness to the attractive stores and shops proves a constant incentive for over-indulgence and wastefulness in the use of money.

4. Make her the family accountant.—As soon as she becomes old enough, take the daughter into your confidence as regards the family expense account. Make her acquainted with the items of income and expenditure in detail. And also make it appear to her that the business of the home is not being conducted satisfactorily unless some portion of the income be set aside for the emergencies of the future.

At this point there is offered an opportunity to give the daughter some much-needed business training. There is much being said of late by way of urging the farmer to keep an accurate book account of all his transactions. Out of the experiment stations have come published letters and bulletins urging that such things be done and showing methods.[Pg 243] But the evidence goes to show that the majority of farmers do not find time for it. So it will in many cases be found practicable to turn this important task of bookkeeping over to the growing daughter. Among the many benefits to be derived will be the excellent business training it will furnish her. As a diversion from the common household duties the accounting will prove most refreshing. And, then, the farmer will soon find this service to the farm business so important as to justify him in paying his daughter reasonably for the work.

5. Miserliness to be avoided.—While the habits of a spendthrift are perhaps above all things else to be avoided, a close second to this as an evil practice is the habit of expending in a miserly and begrudging manner. So, teach the girl to give her money willingly for all the ordinary necessities and comforts of life and for such luxuries as the conditions will reasonably warrant.

The far-sighted parent and the one really interested in the future of his daughter will readily observe how much enslaved adults finally become in the use of money. There are perhaps as many well-to-do persons who are miserly because they cannot help it as there are improvident persons who are spendthrifts because they cannot longer prevent it. Both classes manifest the certain results of training and habit. In his interesting chapter on the psychology of habit Professor James explains so aptly how the[Pg 244] man, long practiced in enforced economy, but at length having ample means, goes to the store with the determination of paying liberally for an article; and how he finally comes away with something cheap.

A “golden mean” is therefore to be sought in training the girl in the use of money. Not how to save at all hazards, but how to spend judiciously, with conscious thought of the right relation between income and outlay—this is perhaps the more acceptable ideal.

6. Teach her to give.—While inculcating business ideas into the mind of your growing daughter, guard against her acquiring a mere passion for money-making and the accumulation of wealth. For example, one of the best means of achieving this end would be to see that she gives a part of her earnings to some worthy cause or other. Explain to her again and again that she must keep up in her life a sort of equipoise of receiving and giving, if the highest sense of inner satisfaction is always to be her portion.

The young must learn sooner or later that there is other than a money profit to be derived from the investment of money. Accordingly, it will not be found difficult for the rural parents to point out to their daughter some place merely where she may invest a small part of her earnings in human welfare. An orphan child living in the neighborhood may be sorely in need of a new dress or school books, a[Pg 245] lonely and aged widow may be cheered by the gift of a wall picture, a crippled child may be accumulating funds for hospital treatment, or another person may have lost heavily from flood or fire. These and many more like them may be made the occasion of teaching the girl a beautiful lesson of sympathy and sacrifice. And the sacrifice should come out of what she has accumulated through her own small business enterprise.

7. Teach the meaning of a contract.—It is often declared that women fail to appreciate the obligations of a contract, that they will enter into a strict agreement to buy an article or to pay for another and then refuse to carry out such agreement. Merchants have been so often called on to deal with this feminine change of mind that they have seen fit to establish a custom of taking back at cost any article not found satisfactory upon trial. This failure of women to adhere strictly to the terms of an agreement has given currency to the opinion that they are naturally dishonest. Weininger in his volume “Sex and Character” even offers a line of questionable proof to confirm the correctness of the opinion.

But Dr. G. Stanley Hall in many of his researches shows that falsehood and deception are common and natural practices among ordinary children. All forms of honest and fair moral and business practice are less natural than acquired. They must have[Pg 246] actual experience, and much of it, as a basis for their becoming a permanent part of character. Hence, the so-called dishonesty of women in relation to the obligations of a business agreement—that is probably nothing more than a matter of sheer ignorance. Farm girls are proverbially lacking in business practice and in knowledge of the rights and obligations of a contract. It is obligatory upon their parents to remove such ignorance through business training.

8. Prepare her to deal with grafters.—“The majority of his victims were women,” is the statement so often read in connection with the fraudulent schemes of the exposed money shark. Millions of dollars are annually taken from credulous women by the get-rich-quick money trader. This polite form of theft has become so flagrant as to necessitate much vigilance and many prosecutions on the part of the national government. Widows and other dependent women are especially the sufferers.

The necessity of preparing the innocent young woman to deal with the enticing business fraud is very apparent. Two or three matters must especially be attended to in giving the required instruction. First, take advantage of many occasions to explain to the girl just how a given case is being worked, so that she may be on guard against such allurements; second, it is well to advise the untrained young woman against investing in any scheme[Pg 247] of profit sharing that offers above a good current rate of interest.

Should there be an actual investment?

Then, what if anything should be done in the ordinary farm home by way of providing an investment for the growing daughter so that she may daily have some practice in business affairs, as well as an income for use in meeting her personal expenses? Before attempting to answer this question, let us be certain that we have the correct point of view of the growing daughter’s ideal relation to the practical affairs in the rural home. It seems to the author that there is only one safe rule of procedure here and that is, whatever the investment,—if there be any at all,—it must be understood that the ideal is one of developing the girl into a beautiful womanhood and not one of making the investment pay in the mere money sense of the term. In other words, the business of the farm and the farm home must serve directly the highest interests of the members of the household, even though money accumulations cannot, as a result, go on quite so fast. Or, as we have put it several times before: The farm and the live stock and all that pertains thereto must be so managed as to contribute directly to the development of the high aspects of character in the boys and girls, and not as materials which the growing boys and girls are to help build up and multiply.

[Pg 248]Now, if it still be insisted upon that the country girl have a definite business relation to the affairs of the home, there are two or three ways whereby this may be accomplished. One method is to give the girl a fixed and reasonable sum of money for whatever she may do by way of helping in the house. Another is that of providing a small investment in something that may be expected to increase reasonably in value and finally bring her a money return. Of the two methods of procedure mentioned, it would seem that the first is the more desirable. If the daughter be given an interest in anything like the live stock or some farm crop, the thing will not appeal to her directly, and whatever interest she may have in it will be a purely borrowed one. On the other hand, if she be given a generous allowance for her services, and during the younger years be trained in the expenditure of this allowance, good results may be expected. Similarly as with the boy, the growing girl must be taught to look toward the future. A system of restraints must be placed against her tendency to squander her small income, and gradually she may be trained to set aside a small portion of what she has with a view to its being applied upon something of her own later in life. It is perhaps too much to ask the girl to save enough money to pay her way through college, but there are many advantages in training her to save for a certain portion of that expense. Perhaps she may be able to buy her own clothes.

[Pg 249]It is not reasonable to assume that every well-trained country girl will find it advisable to take a college course. So, instead of saving up for college expenses, she may be taught to lay by something for the day of her marriage and with the thought of helping equip a home of her own. As a matter of fact, it is not a question of the specific purpose for which the money may be set apart. The main issue is that of staying by her day after day and week after week, and guiding and advising her until she finally acquires good sense, mature judgment, and self-reliance in regard to the business affairs that may be expected to constitute a part of her life as a keeper of a home of her own.

How the southern girls earn money.—One of the most interesting and significant modern movements in behalf of juvenile industry is that of the Southern Girls’ Tomato Clubs, originated in 1910 by Miss Marie Cromer, a rural school teacher of North Carolina. Thousands of young girls are now participants in the new work, each one tending a small plat of tomatoes and canning the produce for the market. One girl is reported to have cleared $130 from one season’s crop raised on one fourth of an acre. The General Education Board and the National Department of Agriculture have given liberal support to this tomato-growing work.

[Pg 250]



It is a well-known fact that rural life conditions have been changing rapidly within the past decade or more. It has taken us a long while to get away from the thought that the farmer is to be anything other than merely a plain, coarse man, comparatively uneducated and innocent of the ways of the world. But we are at last seeing the light in respect to this and many another such traditional belief of a menacing nature. We are now looking forward expectantly to the time when the rural community shall contain its proportionate share of people educated or cultured in the full sense of either of these words.

Changes in rural school conditions

Many of those now in middle life can easily remember when the farmer boy was sent to school only during the time when his services were not required for the performance of the work about the field and the home. This period was narrowed down to about three months in the year. After the corn was husked in the fall, he entered school, usually[Pg 251] about December first. And at the first sign of spring, about March first, he was called away to begin preparations for the new season’s crop. During these sixty days, more or less, the growing lad was supposed to pick up the rudiments of learning and by the time maturity was reached to have worked himself out of the ranks of the illiterate. So he did, for he learned to read falteringly, to write a scrawling hand, and to solve a few arithmetical problems.

We observe the new order of things. In practically all the states there have been recently enacted laws requiring every normal child to attend school during the entire term and to continue for a period of seven or eight years. The splendid results of this provision have only begun to be apparent, but another decade will reveal them in large proportions. Back of this new legislation in behalf of the boys and girls is the new ideal of the possibilities and the worth of the ordinary human being. We are just beginning to understand this splendid truth; namely, that with very few exceptions all of our new-born young have latent within them all the aptitudes necessary for the development of beautiful and symmetrical character. The modern ideal of public education recognizes two things: first, the right of the child to the fullest possible development; and second, the duty of society to see that the child receive such training whether the parent may wish to accord it to him or not.

[Pg 252]The author is especially desirous that the reader appreciate the situation sketched in the foregoing paragraph. What does it mean? It means that our children are at last to have more nearly equal opportunities of development, that their worthy aptitudes or traits are to be brought out through instruction and made to do service in the construction of a sterling character. It means that we shall have cultured artisans as well as cultured artists; that the plain man behind the plow or in the workshop shall be capable of thinking the big, inspiring thoughts as well as the little, puny ones. It means that there will spring up everywhere among the ranks of those once regarded as low and coarse, a magnificent society of men and women who, as individuals, will feel and realize a secret sense of power and worth, and who will shine in the light of a new inspiration.

The boy a bundle of possibilities

It has been proved beyond question that the ordinary child contains at birth potentialities of development far greater in amount and variety than any amount of schooling can ever bring into full realization. If you will make a list of one hundred different and highly specialized vocations, and pause for a moment to contemplate the matter, you will doubtless agree that any common boy might be so trained as to some degree in any one of the hundred[Pg 253] that he might be made to do fairly well in several of them; and that he might become an expert in at least one of them.

Plate XXVII.

Fig. 34.—Only whittling. But in the case of these country boys it is thought of as not mere idling, but as a pastime that leads toward the world of industry.

So, there is little need of being worried over the thought that the boy is a natural-born dullard, without native ability to learn and finally to make his way in the world. It is true that there is occasionally a real “blockhead” among children, but such cases are quite as rare as imbecility and physical deformity. Indeed, such cases are nearly always connected with one or both of the defects just named. Then, while in the usual instance the child is to be assumed to possess an ample amount of native talent, one of the specific problems of his parents and teachers is that of learning in time what his best latent talent is, so that it may give proper incentive and direction for his vocational life.

Classes of native ability

Roughly speaking there are three classes of native ability in the human offspring: the super-normal, the normal, and the sub-normal. The first is constituted of the geniuses—few and far between, perhaps one in a hundred to five hundred. The second is composed of the great mass of humanity upon which the stability of the race is built and out of which the geniuses—and the majority of the sub-normals—spring through fortuitous variation. The third class is constituted of the feeble-minded, the[Pg 254] imbeciles, and the exceedingly rare natural-born criminals—altogether, perhaps one in every two hundred or more of the population.

Now, what we are trying to get at here is a fair estimate of what the parent may reasonably look for by way of a stock of native ability in his child. The natural-born genius will be known by one special mark; namely, he will be so strongly inclined toward one special line of work or calling as to need no outside stimulus or incentive to make him take it up. Indeed, in the usual case of a pronounced genius it is a very difficult matter to prevent the individual from following out his one over-mastering predisposition.

The marks of feeble-mindedness or idiocy are too well known to need description. Such cases are also so rare and so special in their manner of treatment as to call for no extended discussion.

The great talented class

The great masses of humanity are constituted of what we mean here by the talented. That is, as described above, at birth they possess a large and abundant stock of potentialities of learning and achievement—much more than can ever become actualized because of the comparatively limited time and means for education and training. Of course, we recognize that among the talented classes there is an endless variety of combinations of abilities. So are there many degrees of ability.

[Pg 255]But in addition to the foregoing marks of latent ability in the great middle classes we must note a distinctive feature of the development and education of such classes. It is this: The two great conditions necessary for the successful development of the ordinary child are stimulus and opportunity. Unless the slumbering talents be awakened by the proper stimuli, they may slumber on throughout the whole lifetime and no one detect their presence; and unless opportunities for development be given to satisfy the awakened talent, it may return permanently to its condition of quiescence.

In attempting to furnish the necessary stimuli and opportunities for the development of his boy, the farmer has—if he will only use it—a great advantage over the city father. The great variety of work-and-play experience afforded by the rural situation, the fairly good general schooling now coming more and more into reach of all farm homes, the many conditions contributory to self-reliance and independent thinking in the case of the boy—all these raw materials of stimulus and opportunity lie hidden about the common country home. But the parents must themselves become wider awake to the meanings and purposes of such materials, or otherwise their value is lost through disuse. And again, it is urged that parents make the same careful study of their children as they do of farm crops and live stock. See the reference lists following the first five chapters.

[Pg 256]

Round out the boy’s nature

Fortunately, the new provisions of the schools are furnishing more and more definitely the equipment and the course of training most necessary for the masses of the growing children. Fortunately, too, the illiterate father is not to be permitted to dictate as to what subjects his boy is to study in the school, there being not only compulsory attendance, but strict requirements that every child pursue the prescribed course. The time is fast approaching when the rural parent in any community can feel assured that this course of study has been mapped out by expert authority in just such a way as to serve the highest needs of his boy, the idea being to teach and awaken every side of the young nature into its highest possible activity.

In the usual case it is a waste of time to attempt to predetermine the boy’s vocational life before he has gone at least well up through the intermediate grades of the common school; and even then, there is usually not much indication of what he is best suited for. So, one of the great purposes of the common school course is that of sounding the boy on every side and in every depth of his nature, so to speak, in order to find what is there, and to determine what he is by inheritance best suited to do as a life work.


Fig. 35.—An illustration of how to keep the boy on the farm. Every boy needs to acquire early an intimate knowledge of some great industrial pursuit.

The usual inclination of the rural parent is that of looking at his son’s education too strictly in terms of [Pg 257]dollars and cents and to be impatient at the thought of the boy’s taking a broad, fundamental course of schooling. Such school subjects as language and composition are especially thought of as a useless waste of time. But fortunately, as indicated above, the choice is no longer left either to the boy or his father. The former must pursue the subjects assigned him and allow time to prove the wisdom of such a procedure, as it most certainly will. Wherefore, let the rural father attempt to think of his boy, not merely as a coming money-maker, but as a coming man; a man of power and worth and influence in the community in which he is to live, a man of whom his aged father in future time will be most proud, and by whom he will be highly honored.

Other important matters

As suggested above, the evidence is very overwhelming in effect that it is the duty of rural parents to give their children a broad, general course of training as a foundation for efficient life in any place or position. Moreover, it must not be thought for a moment that the legacy of money or property will in any wise furnish a satisfactory substitute for such a course of training. Mean-spiritedness and narrow-mindedness are almost invariably prominent traits of the man who has been prepared to know nothing outside of his business even though that may be a big business. On the other hand, extensive culture,[Pg 258] including a character well developed in all of its essential elements, is by far the best equipment that can possibly be furnished the boy for his start in life.

Now, while the growing boy’s education must not be especially prejudiced in favor of any particular calling, there is no good reason why the farmer’s son should not be given the benefit of every possible intimate and wholesome relation to the father’s work and business. That is, he must not be forced to take up the vocation of farming, but he must be given every opportunity to know its best meanings and advantages. And if he is finally to leave for some foreign occupation, he must go with a profound sense of the possible worth and integrity of the calling of his father. Then, in order that there may be maintained most friendly relations between the farm boy and the farm life, see to it that he has an occasional outing. Widen the scope of his home environment by means of sending him outside occasionally. Let him go off to the state and county fair and learn what he can there. Let him participate in the grain and stock judging contests, as heretofore recommended. Let him attend some of the larger sales of blooded stock and learn there to know more intimately the possibilities of animal husbandry. Accompany him on a trip to the big city occasionally—under proper provisions and restrictions—and help him to acquire some valuable lesson which may be[Pg 259] taken back to the rural community and used to the advantage of the latter.

Also, what about the literature in the home? Although a chapter has already been given to the matter, for the sake of emphasizing its great importance it is again referred to here. Why not see to it that there be secured a few enticing volumes of the clean and uplifting sort? A very few dollars will furnish the nucleus of a library of which the boy will soon become proud. Ask the school superintendent or teacher to make out a list of ten of the best books for your boy and then secure these at once. Bring into the home also one or two of the best standard magazines and keep constantly on the table one or more of the best and cleanest newspapers. Then, see to it that the boy’s life be not so nearly dragged out during the day’s work that he cannot spend thirty minutes or more of each evening at the reading table.

Develop an interest in humanity

All education is for the sake of human welfare. The thing learned like the material thing possessed is most worth while in proportion as it serves some high human purpose or need. There is abundant opportunity to teach the country boy that education cannot well exist for its own sake or purely for one’s own selfish uses. So it is well early to awaken the youth’s interest in people. Have him compare his own lot with that of others in very different circum[Pg 260]stances. Take him occasionally to the orphanage, the industrial (reform) school, the imbecile and insane asylums, the prisons, and the sweat-shops in the city. Thus through acquainting him with how the other half lives you may cause the boy to reflect seriously on the best meanings and possibilities of his own life, and to plan in his mind a splendid ideal of integrity for his own coming manhood.

The boy’s education is not going on rightly if he is not being introduced to the current affairs of the world. The literature suggested above should be made to serve the purpose of bringing his attention to these matters. He should become interested in the political welfare of his community, his state, and his nation, and learn to feel his responsibility in regard to such things. But he will probably not voluntarily acquire these better relations to society at large. It should therefore be regarded as the urgent duty of the parent to give the necessary guidance and instruction.

Finally, we must again be reminded of the high ideals of education and culture necessary to, and consistent with, substantial country life. The greatest of producing classes—the agronomists—must and can in time rank at the head of all others in moral and intellectual worth. So, let the rural parent look ahead and formulate in his own mind the splendid vision of his son grown up to full maturity of all his best powers. Let him see this future citizen as a[Pg 261] man of magnanimity, of splendid personal force, and of great constructive ability in the important work of budding up the affairs of the community in which he is to live.


Chapters in Rural Progress. President Kenyon L. Butterfield. Chapter VI. “Education for the Farmer.” University of Chicago Press.

Education for the Iowa Farm Boy. H. C. Wallace. Pamphlet. (Free.) Chamber of Commerce, Des Moines.

Value during Education of a life Career Motive. C. W. Eliot. Annual Volume N.E.A., 1910.

To keep Boys on the Farm. M. E. Carr. Country Life. April 1, 1911.

Education Best Suited for Boys. R. P. Halleck. Annual Volume N.E.A., 1906. p. 58.

The Training of Farmers. Dr. L. H. Bailey. The Century Company. Contains a statistical study of why boys leave the farm.

The Best Thing a College does for a Man. President Charles F. Tawing. Forum, Volume 18. p. 570.

The Care of Freshmen. President W. O. Thompson. Annual Volume N.E.A., 1907. p. 723.

Proceedings of Child Conference for Research and Welfare. Page 142. “The Discipline of Work.” Frederick P. Fish. G. E. Stechert & Co., New York.

The Young Man’s Problem. Educational Pamphlet No. 1. Society of Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis. New York. 10 cents. Every parent should read this excellent discussion on sex education.

[Pg 262]



Perhaps it need not be urged that the country girl be provided with the same general educational advantages as those outlined for the country boy, as the plain demands of justice would mean as much. She, too, must be thought of as possessing all the beautiful latent possibilities, and high ideals of personal worth and character should be constantly entertained for her in the minds of her parents. And then, they must allow no ordinary business concern about the farm home to stand in the way of her unfoldment in the direction of these higher ideals.

Special problems relating to the girl

Over and above those provisions which relate to the general development of the country boy there are several special considerations in reference to his sister. For example, she has a more delicate physical organism which must be shielded, especially at times, against the heavy drudgery that will naturally fall upon her willing shoulders. And then, the standards require of her rather more of refined manners than they do of her brother. Moreover, it may be[Pg 263] shown that a refined and attractive personality will become a larger asset in her life than in his. Comeliness and habitual cheerfulness and numerous other like qualities must be thought of as necessary and helpful characteristics of the well-reared country girl. It will also be much to her advantage to have some special training in at least one of the so-called fine arts. Let her have her musical education or some advanced work in literature or painting. A sum of money invested in something of this sort while the daughter is growing may be considered a far better investment than if the same amount were laid away to invest in a dowry.

Protecting the girl at school

It is not merely obligatory that the farmer send his young girl to the district school regularly, and thus round out her nature symmetrically through instruction in all the common branches. The delicate nature of the normal girl requires far more protection than is often accorded it. Unlike the city walks and pavements, the country road leading to the schoolhouse is often menaced by muddy sloughs, tall vegetation, and deep snow banks. Wading through such places, especially in bad weather, gives undue exposure, the feet frequently becoming wet and the body thoroughly chilled. Many children sit all day in the schoolroom in this condition. As a result of the lowered vitality the incipient forms of[Pg 264] various diseases enter the body, there perhaps to return intermittently and with more serious effects as the life advances.

What may be done as preventive measures, it is asked. Simply this: Prepare a better road from the home to the schoolhouse, by putting in foot crossings over ravines, by mowing weeds and grass, by filling and draining low places, and the like. On stormy days and on occasions when the young adolescent girl is passing through her monthly period of weakness—one especially endangering the health—it will be advisable to provide a conveyance to school and back.

Country parents also often need to be cautioned in regard to over-working the school girl. Some even require her to do practically the same amount of work as she could well endure were there no extra burdens at school. Manifestly, this is both unjust and injurious. Observe the conduct of the young school girl for a few days. If there is no song and laughter in her life; if she is not ruddy in complexion and buoyant of step; if she mopes and drones about the place; do not censure her, but seek a constitutional cause and watch for evidences of an over-requirement of work.

The close inspection of the health of school children, now conducted in many cities, brings out the somewhat startling fact that many boys and girls come to the class room every morning fatigued and depressed beyond the point of effective study. The[Pg 265] old way was to call them dullards, to punish them, to shame them out of the school, to humiliate their parents. The new method of dealing with such children calls for scientific measures. First, the exact conditions are ascertained by experts; second, the parents are urged and helped to provide for the child more sleep, better food, more fresh air in the living chambers, more recreation, a relief from over-work, or some special medical care—as the particular case may demand.

If one wishes full evidence of the effective gain for studentship that results from the new manner of treatment of the dull and backward pupil, let him examine the many reports of individual cases as published in the Psychological Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania, especially the issues of 1909-1910. The indifference or the thoughtlessness of country parents may easily allow for the existence of the foregoing bad physical conditions in the case of their own daughter, and as a result her otherwise promising life may become permanently blighted.

Lessons in music and art

The ordinary farmer needs to learn to take more pride in his daughter and in her accomplishments. The time will come when he will be far more proud of her wealth of character than he will be of her wealth of material goods. A country father of moderate means bought a first-class piano for his two girls and[Pg 266] employed a music teacher. “You may think that I cannot afford such things,” said he. “But I can. I am running this farm for the good it will do my family.” He was a true philosopher, as well as a successful farmer.

It is entirely practicable and most helpful to her development to provide that the country girl be given instruction in music, or art, or something special and advanced in the form of needlework. In its best sense this special instruction will not be thought of as vocational training, but rather as a necessary manner of giving permanent expression to her æsthetic nature. The author believes that the matter should be stated even more emphatically. That is, not to give the normal girl some such means of indulging her æsthetic tastes is seriously to neglect her education, if not to do her a permanent wrong.

While vocational training and economic advantages are important secondary considerations in connection with the daughter’s instruction in the fine arts, the father who helps her become an amateur in one of these lines thereby renders her a splendid service for life. It is neither very difficult nor very expensive to arrange to have the girl go to the near-by town or to a neighbor’s once or twice per week where she may receive competent instruction in music or painting. To make the arrangement most effective there will need to be a musical instrument in her own home, a conveyance at her ready disposal, and a regular[Pg 267] allowance of time for practice. No just and affectionate parents can deny their young daughter any fewer advantages than these, if the means for securing them can at all be acquired.

The reward will come in time

The lessons in painting or fine needlework may be provided for in the same way. If the expense seems heavy, the far-sighted parents will think of their declining days of the future and imagine the large return the daughter may render them through the skill which they have been instrumental in developing in her.

But without waiting for old age to overtake them the father and mother of the girl artist may derive some benefits from her work. She may furnish the table service with hand-painted chinaware or adorn the walls of the home with attractive paintings. And also, as heretofore indicated, the daughter may herself in time conduct a class of amateur students of the fine art in which she has made preparation.

One word of precaution must be offered in reference to the training here considered. In the usual case the girl is not started young enough. Her advancement in the music, for example, is likely to be much more rapid and her skill much more marked, if the age nine to eleven, rather than five or six years later, be chosen as the beginning time. The author has witnessed many pathetic instances of[Pg 268] adult girls in a desperate attempt to master the mechanical part of the introductory music. The extra amount of desire and effort possible at this more advanced age do not nearly compensate for the better memory and the greater facility of hand and finger movement possible at the earlier age. This same general law of early beginning probably holds good in respect to the other fine arts.

In relation to all the foregoing seemingly trivial matters there comes to mind what is perhaps the most serious problem that confronts practically every well-reared young woman; namely, that of her successful marriage to a worthy young man—a subject to be discussed at length in another paper. And so it is contended that if her future happiness or well-being be a consideration, if the realization of her fondest hopes and her instinctive desires be worthy of the thought of her parents; then, they must by all means see that some of the foregoing refining qualities become woven into her whole character during the formative period. Thus she may be given practically every possible advantage in finding that true life companion.

The mother’s office as teacher

In his usual familiar and straightforward way “Uncle” Henry Wallace thus addresses the country mother through the medium of an editorial in Wallaces’ Farmer:—

[Pg 269]“It is the mother that shapes and molds the character of the girl. If she is sweet spirited, looks out upon the world hopefully and desirous of seeing the best in men and women, her daughters will as a rule have the same sort of outlook. If she permits gossip and fault-finding at the table, her daughters may reasonably be expected to do likewise. If she sharply criticises the preacher’s sermon at the Sabbath dinner, she need not expect her daughters to become devout. If she is a poor housekeeper, how can she expect her daughters to excel in that finest of all arts? We know something of the depth and tenderness of a mother’s love, how earnestly she seeks the welfare of her daughter; but if she has a wrong conception of what is best in life, even this unspeaking affection may be the source of evil instead of good.

“One of the first things you should consider about that girl of yours is her health. Give her plain food and plenty of it, sensible clothing, a well-ventilated and well-lighted room, and all the exercise that she wants, even if she does seem to be something of a tomboy; and, barring accidents, she will usually be healthy through early girlhood. When she begins to develop into womanhood is the time for you, mother, to do what no one else can. Tell her about herself, about the changes that must come, and about the care she must take of herself if she is to be a healthy and happy wife and mother. A mistake here through false modesty is often the source of trouble for years to come.”

[Pg 270]

Home-life education

This book is based on the assumption that every good young woman is good for something of a practical nature. In considering the make-up of such a character, it seems reasonable to assert that no other qualities stand out more prominently than the trained ability to carry on successfully the work of the household. The necessary drudgery of the home life seems to be the greatest burden that modern society has placed upon women. Proportionately great should be the preparation to bear this burden. The ideal to be realized is, perhaps, not that the girl may be enabled to do more of such work, but that she may be trained to be true mistress of it. Woman’s work is never done, and it never will be, no matter how many worthy women kill themselves in an attempt to finish it. So the greatest thing to be desired in respect to this unending round of toil and drudgery is that of a well-poised, spiritually-minded character, such as may enable its possessor to sit down at the end of a working period unusually long and in spite of the confusion and unfinished business restore the composure and keep in touch with the higher implications of life.

It is not really a difficult matter to teach the ordinary growing girl to work and perform faithfully all of her assigned duties. It is more of a task to teach her how to quit when she has worked long enough[Pg 271] and thereby to preserve her health and prolong her services.

Plate XXIX.

Fig. 36.—These country boys and girls supply the home neighborhood with the produce from the school garden. Such work is first-class vocational training.

Education for supremacy

It is unquestionably a splendid aid to successful womanhood for the growing girl to be taught how to cook and sew and take care of a house. But as a guarantee of peace and happiness throughout life she had better be taught many specific lessons in self-mastery. And it seems certain that the farm home offers many more advantages for developing a poised character in the young woman than does the city home. So let it be seen to by country parents that their girls be trained from childhood to meet life’s stress and storm with calm composure and sweet serenity. Only such training will suffice to tide the latter over the great crushing ordeals that tend at some time to fall to the lot of every good woman.

Conditions in the well-ordered country home may be made to contribute to another form of self-mastery in the growing girl. That is, she may be made supreme over the conventionalities of dress and the social customs that touch her life. By this it is not intended to prescribe in respect to such things as the style or appearance of the young woman’s clothing. She may be first or last or medium in the list of the well-dressed. But it is here contended that she can be trained to subordinate these matters to a personal charm that is her very own, and that emanates from a beautiful and well-poised life within. It is quite as[Pg 272] destructive to good character for one to be meanly clothed through necessity and at the same time envy and despise those who are better dressed as it is to be among the richly adorned and try to make mere adornment a mark of better and superior rank in society, or a means of lacerating the feelings of one’s associates.

The country mother will let pass one of the rarest forms of opportunity for refining and beautifying the character of her daughter if she does not educate the latter rightly in respect to these conventionalities. Train her to be neat and attractive in appearance, but at the same time teach her that no manner of outer adornment can cover up or substitute for sweetness and purity of the inner life. The splendid effects of such an education will reveal themselves to best advantage in the young woman when she has finally entered a home of her own. If she cannot then and there shine in a light that emanates from her own soul, the sacrificial work of ministering to the needs of her own household will never be well performed.

An outlook for social life

Provision will by all means be made that the growing country girl be introduced to the best social life within reach. She must mingle with those of her own age and learn how others think and act. She must attend parties and the other social gatherings, especially the literary societies if there be any avail[Pg 273]able. For the sake of her training, if for no better reason, she may be brought into close relation to the Sunday school and the church. It will be good, indeed, if she find some congenial work in one or both of these organizations. Let it be remembered that the healthy-minded, well-matured woman is very probably at her best and is most highly satisfied and contented with life only when she has opportunities to perform some kind of worthy social service. Farm parents may well bring it about, therefore, that their young daughter have some specific deeds of altruism to perform. Let her carry a small gift or a word of cheer to the door of the sick or the infirm. Let her make with her own hands some simple, inexpensive present to be carried to the one who needs it most and whose heart will be made glad by it.

Above all things else, it must be provided that something more than the mere grasping nature of the young country girl be indulged and developed. Some there are who still contend that life for men is, at its best, a game of chance and contention. But such an ideal, if held up to the growing girl, will tend to check or destroy all that is best and most beautiful in the feminine nature. Young women especially must learn through practice that the best and most beautiful character is altogether consistent with the performance of deeds of service and altruism.

Finally, educate into the daughter as much habitual cheerfulness as possible, let her heart be made glad[Pg 274] again and again, not merely because of what she has, and because of what she receives day by day, but also and especially on account of what she gives out of the best and sweetest of her own nature in behalf of those whom she may find occasion to help and cheer on their way over the journey of life. All this will help to make her a creature of whom not only the other members of her family, but also the entire community will be most proud.


My Escape from Household Drudgery. Mary Patterson. Success Magazine, August, 1911.

Proceedings of Child Conference of Research and Welfare. Beulah Kennard. Page 47, “The Play Life of Girls.” G. E. Stechert & Co., New York.

Women’s School of Agriculture. I. H. Harper. Independent, June 29, 1911.

The Girl of To-morrow—Her Education. E. H. Baylor. World’s Work, July, 1911. Prize essay.

Education of Women for Home Making. Mrs. W. N. Hutt. Annual Volume N.E.A., 1910, p. 122.

Give the Girls a Chance. Canfield. Collier’s, March 12, 1910.

The Durable Satisfactions of Life. Charles W. Eliot. Pages 11-57, “The Happy Life.” Crowell.

The Kind of Education Best Suited for Girls. Anna J. Hamilton. Annual Volume N.E.A., 1907. p. 65.

Parasitic Culture. Dr. George E. Dawson. Popular Science Monthly, September, 1910.

Training the Girl to help in the Home. William A. McKeever. Pamphlet. 2 cents. Published by the author. Manhattan, Kan.

[Pg 275]



Turn which way you will upon the great broad highway of life and there you will always be able to find the wrecks and broken forms of humankind—men and women who have failed in their life purposes. Strange to say, that particular aspect of the science of character-building which has to do with the substantial preparation for vocational life has been very much neglected. By what rule do men succeed in their callings and by what different rule do other men fail? Are some foreordained to success and others to failure? Is there an inherent strength in some and a native weakness in others? Is there a type of education and training which specifically fits and prepares for each of the native callings? None of these questions has been thoroughly gone into with a view to finding out what were best to be done and what best to leave undone. So, we blunder away, hit or miss, in the vocational training of our boys and girls.

Should the farmer’s son farm?

In attempting to give helpful suggestions to farm parents relative to their boy’s vocation, perhaps this[Pg 276] question will first demand an answer. The tentative reply to it is this: The farmer’s son, or any other man’s son, should follow that calling for which he is best suited by nature and in which he will thereby have the greatest amount of native interest; provided it be practicable to prepare him for such calling. Some farm boys are destined by nature for mechanical pursuits, others for social or clerical work, others for captains of industry, and so on. Likewise, the city boys may reveal in their natures a great variety of instinctive tendencies and interests which will be found of great worth in guiding them into a successful life occupation.

Yes, the farmer’s son should by all means take up his father’s business; provided that at maturity he may have both native and acquired interest in the same and that to a degree predominating any other native or acquired interest.

Impatience of parents

It can be proved that the country boy matures more slowly than the city boy. For example, at the age of sixteen, he is behind the latter in height, weight, school training, and sociability. But while the city boy matures more rapidly, the country boy makes up for the loss by a longer period of development. It is the author’s firm belief that this fact of slow growth proves a tremendous advantage to the country youth in that it allows for greater stability of character,[Pg 277] and especially for a greater amount of courage and aggressiveness in form of permanent life habits.

But one might well wish that all rural parents could realize the evil consequences of being impatient with the son in respect to his choice of a life work. Many a good boy yet in his teens is hounded and driven about by the continuous nagging of his parents, who ignorantly believe that he should have his future destiny all planned and ready for its realization. As a result, this same good boy is often driven to desperation and to the point of leaving the home place—of breaking away from the affectionate ties that bind him to parents, and of seeking the position wherein he might earn a living. As a matter of fact, few young men have any very clear or reliable vision of their future life at the age of eighteen, or even twenty. Many of the best men in the world are faltering and uncertain even as late as twenty-five. However, if the relatives and friends would only exercise all due patience, offering only such helps and suggestions as can be given, and trusting the future finally to throw upon the problem a light from within the youth himself—then, we may be assured, practically every man will finally come to some line of effort that will bring him a comfortable living.

What of predestination?

The old-fashioned idea of a boy’s being marked by the hand of destiny, “cut out for” some particular[Pg 278] calling in life, still has a place in the minds of the masses. The kindred belief that some men are “natural-born failures” has also wide currency. A third superstition is the very common opinion that others are “just naturally lucky.” All these traditional opinions are the outgrowth of ignorance of human nature such as may be dispelled by means of a course of instruction, or a carefully arranged course of home reading, in modern psychology.

None of the foregoing superstitions would be worthy of our attention were it not for the gross injustice which they entail upon children. Parents everywhere—in both city and country—are dealing with their children upon the assumption that one and all of these fallacies are true. “My oldest boy just naturally has no luck,” said the father of three sons and two daughters. “He changes around from one thing to another and fails every time.” But what of this particular boy’s early training? Was it the same as that of the others? Did he enjoy equal advantages? Did his parents when married really know anything about rearing children? or, did they really mistreat their first-born through ignorance and use him as a sort of practice material from which they learned how to do better by the succeeding ones?

Until the foregoing inquiries about the “unlucky” son’s boyhood life be fully answered, we cannot reasonably permit ourselves to condemn him. There is nothing more in predestination than this; namely,[Pg 279] it can be shown that the child is born with not a few latent abilities—aptitudes for doing and learning this and that—and that one of these aptitudes is likely to have correlated with it more than the average amount of nerve development in the corresponding brain center. As a result, that particular aptitude will require less training than the others and will tend to predominate over them as maturity is approached.

The reply of the psychologist to the statement that some men are “natural-born failures,” is this: Few if any of those possessed of ordinary physical and mental qualities at birth are necessarily so. Excepting the feeble-minded and the like,—whose marks of degeneracy are usually apparent to all,—it may be asserted on the highest authority that none are “natural-born failures” to any greater extent than they are “natural-born successes”; but that they have within the inherited nerve mechanisms many possibilities of both success and failure.

Three methods of vocational training

We should be willing to overlook almost any other interest in this discussion for the sake of inducing in the farm father the belief that his young boy is a potential success—the belief that this boy is furnished by nature with the latent ability to shine somewhere in the broad field of human endeavor—provided he be rightly trained and disciplined during[Pg 280] his growing years. Here, then, is probably the greatest of all the human-training problems; namely, the vocational one.

Roughly speaking, there have been three methods of vocational training.

1. The apprentice method.—First, historically there has been the apprentice method, the youth being “bound out to learn a trade.” The chief faults of this traditional way of teaching the boy to be self-supporting were these: it made no allowance for intellectual development, and it gave the father too much authority to choose the calling for the boy.

A modern offshoot of the old-time apprentice course is the trade school which flourishes in many of the big cities to-day. This new institution has one great advantage over its prototype. It offers such a great variety of forms of training that the youth may exercise much free choice. But it preserves one of the serious defects of apprenticeship in its neglect of the intellect of the learner. The modern trade school can never hope to do more than prepare young men and women to make a good living. It is a get-ready-quick institution, and can never be expected to give the student breadth of view and depth of insight into the great problems of human life.

2. The cultural method.—The second-oldest method of preparing men for a vocation is what[Pg 281] has been called the cultural method. It has aimed at high advancement in book learning with the thought of finally enabling the student to enter a professional class comparatively few in numbers and supposed to possess a superior advantage over the great mass of human kind. One fault of this method has been to emphasize learning for its own sake and to defer too long the training of the individual in the material and practical side of his calling.

But the chief fault of this cultural method has been its contempt for common labor and ordinary industry, its theory being that true education prepares one to avoid such practices. If the young man wished to prepare for law or medicine or teaching or the ministry,—one of the “learned professions,”—then the old classical school was at his service. But if he would become a mere artisan or industrial worker, there was no advanced course of schooling available.

3. The developmental method.—The third and newest method of preparing the young person for his vocational life is in reality a compromise between the first and second. It provides that the learner shall have book instruction and industrial training at the same time, and that both of these are to be regarded as cultural, since taken together they prepare for independence of thought and action, and for the vocation, as well. This new method of preparing young people for their life work would call nothing mean or low. It aims to serve all[Pg 282] impartially in their struggle for self-improvement and vocational success. But its motto is the development of head and hand together. It seeks to produce cultured handicraftsmen as well as cultured artists and professional men.

The farmer fortunate

Our justification for the foregoing somewhat lengthy discussion of the different theories of education is that of wishing to be certain of bespeaking the father’s patience and forbearance in the preparation of his son for the vocational life. The farmer is most fortunate in having ready at hand a large amount and variety of industrial practice to supplement the boy’s book lessons. In this respect he probably has a superior advantage over all other classes.

But in guiding his boy gradually toward the vocational life the farm father can easily mistake what is merely a passing interest on the former’s part for a permanent one. The carefully kept records of farm boys show that they take up many different lines of work with great enthusiasm, and yet soon tire of them and drop them. These serial and transitory interests are usually mere juvenile responses to the awakening of some new nerve centers. They are not much different in nature from the brief passing interest which the child has in his various playthings.

[Pg 283]Now, the chief function of these transitory interests in special forms of work and learning as shown by the young growing boy is this: to furnish the occasions for a great variety of activities and practices for trying him out on all the possible sides of his nature. Not one of these intense boyish interests is necessarily very directly preparatory to his final choice of a vocation, while all are indirectly so. Therefore, if the fifteen-year-old son chances to win in a corn-raising contest, or at a live-stock exhibition, or if he manifests unusual interest in arithmethic, declamation, or nature study, do not regard any of these as necessarily pointing to his best possible vocational work. Presumably, at such an undeveloped age, he is still in possession of some latent interests and aptitudes, one of which may far outweigh any such thing hitherto awakened in his life. Give him time to mature and, if at all practicable, send him on to college.

What college for the country boy

It is the opinion of the author that the State Agricultural College, as now situated and organized, is the ideal institution of higher learning for the country-bred youth. It offers him every reasonable incentive and opportunity for continuing in the calling of his father, if he be so inclined, while at the same time it gives instruction in many other departments of learning. Whether the state in[Pg 284]stitution be a separate one or merely a college within the organization of the state university matters little. In either case the young man will be brought within reach of a course in scientific farming, stock raising, horticulture, and the like, either to choose or let alone—and the so-called cultural work will still be there for the taking.

The foundation in work

Many rural parents, weighted down with the over-work of the farm, cherish and express a very earnest desire that their sons may find some easier form of earning a living. So they deliberately plan with the boy the “easy” course to be pursued. Said one such farmer: “Wife and I decided that there would not be much in it for Henry except hard work if he settled down on the home place, so we decided to send him to college and educate him for something that offered less work and more pay.” So they shielded the son from the heavier duties of the farm and encouraged in every way the boy’s thought of an easy way to success.

But one thing these well-meaning parents failed to foresee. That is, when the boy entered college, he began to look for that same sort of royal road to learning. The assigned lessons and tasks soon took the appearance of drudgery and he dodged and avoided them wherever possible. In less than a year the youth had failed at college and was back home.[Pg 285] “The confinement of the college did not agree with his health.” More than three years have passed since, and the boy has spent the time drifting from one “job” to another and all the while growing weaker in character and integrity.

Here we have but another instance of the old, old story, with its tragic aspects. Yet, nearly all the faltering, vacillating men now drifting about the country might have been saved through careful training in the performance of work. The boy who would be insured success in his coming vocation must be required to buckle down to solid work of a kind and amount to suit his years and strength. He must learn through the character-building experience of toil, not only what it means to stay by an assigned duty till it is performed, but he must also experience the unfailing joy of work well done. He will thus have the advantage of the spur of successful effort and acquire the beginnings of that splendid self-reliance which is a distinguishing mark of all successful men.

Clean up the place

But there is a sort of drudgery and of ugliness against which the boy’s nature instinctively rebels, and it ought to. By this we mean to refer to the actual conditions of over-work and the accompanying run-down appearance that characterizes so many farm homes to-day. No wonder the boys hasten away to the city to find a “job.”

[Pg 286]Why not clean up the place by cutting away the underbrush and weeds, by planting shade trees and repairing fences and out buildings, by painting and renovating the house and barn?—and all this as an investment in behalf of the children and their possible future interest in the farm home as the best place on earth in which to dwell? All this and more might be urged as means of guiding the thoughts of the farm boy towards the possibilities of his taking up the calling of his father. And while all these material advantages may not serve to overcome the natural tendency of the young man to seek a radically different type of occupation, they will at least make it more certain that his natural abilities for an agricultural pursuit were not left unawakened.

Money value of an agricultural education

The College of Agriculture in Cornell University some time ago made an inquiry into the educational status of the farmers in a certain county of New York. It was found that out of 573 farmers, 398 had not advanced farther than the district school, 165 had attended high school one or more years, and 10 had received a college education. The 398 who had attended district school only were receiving yearly for their labor $318; the 165 farmers of high school education were receiving annually $622; and the 10 who had attended college one or more[Pg 287] years were receiving an average of $847 income for their services.

The foregoing investigation is at least suggestive in its results. It tends to prove that there is an actual earning-capacity value in the higher agricultural education. While the matter has never been extensively studied, it can doubtless be shown that the graduates of the agricultural course are receiving much larger incomes than any of the classes named above. In addition it can doubtless be shown that these graduates are better equipped, not only for earning a livelihood, but for substantial citizenship. Of course there are many notable exceptions to this rule, but the rule is, nevertheless, general.

Now, if the farm parent wishes to figure his boy’s future on the basis of money-earning capacity, he can easily be shown that the higher schooling in the average case increases such capacity. In addition there is abundant evidence of the fact that the higher schooling gives the young man a much better equipment for serving the society in which he is to live.

A successful vocation certain

Finally, it may be said that the successful vocational life of the ordinary country-bred boy may be guaranteed as practically certain, provided he have every ordinary advantage of development and training of which he is capable. Train him early in lessons of[Pg 288] obedience and work; make his life more wholesome through ample play and recreation; see that he learns how to earn money and how to save a part of his earnings; provide that he attend the public school regularly until at least the grammar grades be finished; give him an opportunity to become personally interested in the business side of the farm life; allow him opportunities to mingle with the cleanest possible society of his own age; and then await patiently his own inner promptings as to what line of work he should take up. A college course may prove necessary in order to help him uncover deeper and better levels that lie hidden in his nature. Then, after he has chosen a calling in this careful and reliable way, with all your might, mind, and soul encourage and support him in his efforts! This is practically the only way to make a big, efficient man and citizen of your boy and to make his calling a divine calling.


Vocational Education. Published bi-monthly. $1.50 per year. The Manual Arts Press, Peoria, Ill.

Vocational Education. John M. Gillette. Chapter VI, “Importance of the Economic Interest in Society.” American Book Company.

Vocational Guidance of Youth. Meyer Bloomfield. Chapter II, “Vocational Chaos and its Consequences.” Houghton, Mifflin Company. The entire volume is most timely and helpful.

The Problem of Vocational Education. David Snedden, Ph.D. Houghton, Mifflin Company.

New Type of Rural School House. W. H. Jenkins. Craftsman, May, 1911.

[Pg 289]

Vocational Direction, or The Boy and his Job. Annals American Academy, March, 1910.

Education for a Vocation. President’s address before the N.E.A. Annual Volume, 1908, p. 56.

Vocational Direction. E. W. Lord. Annals Academy of Political and Social Science (Philadelphia), March, 1910.

Social Phase of Education. Samuel T. Dutten. Page 143, “The Relation of Education to Vocation.” Macmillan. The entire book is sound and sane.

Income of College Graduates Ten Years after Graduation. H. A. Miller. Science, Feb. 4, 1910.

Occupations of College Graduates as Influenced by the Undergraduate Course. F. P. Keppel. Educational Review, December, 1910.

Assisting the Boy in the Choice of a Vocation. Pamphlet. Wm. A. McKeever. Manhattan, Kan.

[Pg 290]



What, may we ask, are rural parents doing in regard to the careful preparation of their growing daughters for the vocational life? The author has frequently asserted that many a farmer is to-day giving vastly more thought to the question of preparing his live stock for the money market than to preparing his girls for their life work. The seriousness, the well-nigh cruelty, of this situation becomes apparent only when we inquire into the facts. How long must this carelessness continue? How long will farmers remain indifferent to the tremendous responsibility of giving their children every possible aid in the direction of a high and worthy occupation? Their chief concern continues to be centered too exclusively upon the cattle and the hogs and the corn. Are the boys and girls to be left to shift for themselves? And are they to continue to have their careers determined by mere chance and incident?

Plate XXX.

Fig. 37.—Country school girls learning the rudiments of cooking. In no distant future such work will be required along with the traditional subjects.

What is the outlook

So, if the country father having a young family were here before us, we should ask him: What is the [Pg 291]outlook in regard to a happy future for your growing daughter? Do you want her to take her place among the men and be forced to do some sort of man’s work in order to obtain her bread? or, do you earnestly desire that she find some sort of worthy woman’s work? And if the latter be your choice, what helpful agencies are you bringing to bear upon the situation? In the midst of all your consideration of these matters touching your daughter, we should have you most earnestly and prayerfully consider at least one thing; namely, with few possible exceptions, the healthy, growing girl looks forward instinctively to the time when she is to become mistress of a household of her own. And in every case, if the girl fails to become such a mistress, there is only one reasonable alternative to be thought of and that is to provide that she engage in some sort of work which will give expression in the largest possible measure to that which is best and truest in her feminine nature.

Ordinarily, in planning for the future of their daughter, parents might as well consider the problem as having a two-fold aspect. Assuming first of all that the girl instinctively desires to preside over a home of her own, how can she best be prepared for that place? Second, in case that, by some miscarriage of plans, she fails to reach this most worthy ambition, what may she safely fall back upon as an adequate means of self-support? Now, if this statement of the matter be a correct one, it[Pg 292] seems that the general scope of the problem of preparing a girl for her vocation ought to be fairly clear. Still another way of putting the situation is this: The girl must be carefully prepared, not only for her first choice of an occupation, but also for her second choice, because of grave danger of the failure of her first choice to be realized.

There is a perplexing aspect of the whole question implied here, and every parent who has a daughter should become aware of it and also prepared to confront it. That is to say, almost any ordinary man may go out into the open market and push his quest for a life companion and be able to return in the course of a very short period with one at his side. But with the girl it is radically different. Practically her only stock-in-trade consists of her personal charm and her pecuniary advantages. And many a young woman with both of these qualities very strongly in her favor fails, by some chance or other, to receive an acceptable offer of marriage. Statistics widely gathered will show that age is also a very positive factor in this matter, and that the ratio of probability of marriage of a single woman begins to fall very rapidly before she reaches thirty.

Desirable occupations for women

While there is abundant evidence to prove that the great majority of normal young women desire[Pg 293] instinctively and above all things else a happy marriage, including a contented home life and children to care for, some alternatives must be now pointed out in case of failure to realize the highest ambition.

1. May teach the young.—School teaching is perhaps the most common, as well as the most commendable, occupation for unmarried women. In many a case, the farmer’s daughter will find it greatly to her advantage to engage in this occupation for one or more terms. Thousands of the most worthy young women in our land are devoting their lives to this highest of secondary vocations for women. The work of teaching gives exercise to the altruistic feminine nature and approaches in a fair degree the satisfaction which comes to the mother who is sacrificing for children of her own.

But school teaching wears heavily on the vitality of nearly all young women who follow it long. Diseases peculiar to the sex are said to be very prevalent among such teachers, probably resulting from an excessive amount of standing. Tens of thousands of girls are going from the farm home to the school room, some of them to remain permanently in the business, but the majority to earn money of their own and to place themselves in better position for successful marriage. So, perhaps the first duty of the country parents to the daughter who takes up school teaching is to see that the latter’s health be not[Pg 294] seriously impaired thereby. After that, the young woman’s proper advancement in the profession may be thought of. The ungraded district school is an excellent trying-out and testing position for the young teacher. But if she continues many terms in the school room, graded work will prove more advantageous, especially in the important matter of bringing the young woman into the company of marriageable young men.

2. May take up stenography.—A vast army of young women now support themselves with the use of the typewriter. This work pays slightly more the year round than school teaching. It is somewhat more confining; but, for various other reasons, it is less deleterious to the general health. Such office business, however, subjects the young woman to many temptations. It is the opinion of the author that stenography is not at all a desirable occupation for the farmer’s daughter to enter. The continued absence from home, the constant association with people differing radically in tastes and manners from the rural population, not to mention again the many temptations to accept lower moral standards—these and other matters will tend to estrange the farm daughter from her parents and to make them feel that something of the former charm of sweet simplicity and home affection has passed permanently out of her life.

One thing at least is to be considered before the[Pg 295] daughter be permitted to leave the country home for an office position. That is, the work is not to be considered as permanent, but rather as a possible means of preparing for marriage and the contented home life that should follow.

3. May do social work.—Next to the work of teaching, perhaps the social-service work now being developed and carried on in the cities would make its appeal to the true-hearted young woman. Here again we have a sort of task that dips into the affections and sympathies of the worker and furnishes an opportunity for her to give freely out of the best she has in her make-up. Among the fortunate considerations of teaching and social work are the opportunities they offer for the sympathetic care and guidance of children—the indulgence of altruism and the mother instinct in the young woman. Parents will observe as a rule that their daughter returns from such occupations as these with increased affections for the home family and the home life and a broader and more general interest in people.

In recent years there has developed a new and remarkably promising field of social work for both young men and young women. Charitable, philanthropic, and other social-welfare institutions have been greatly multiplied, while their work has been put on a scientific basis. The modern method of securing employees in such places is that of calling persons especially trained and fitted to do the work[Pg 296] required, and to pay reasonably for the service. Several new, first-class schools and institutions for training workers in this human field have been recently organized.

Now, if country parents become anxious to have their daughter go away to the city and find desirable employment and that at living wages, the author recommends this new line of social work most highly. For reasons given above, and for others, it will prove an excellent stepping-stone to the home life—the work is in the general field of human betterment so inviting to the natural instincts of the well-reared young woman; the associates are persons likewise interested in human welfare and ranking high in moral and religious character; the required work is usually of a nature to awaken the deepest sympathies and affections and to make the countenance of the worker shine with a new spiritual light.

4. May secure clerkships.—Clerking and general store work is much followed by young women to-day, but such work may be put down in the list of hazardous occupations for women of any age. Close economic conditions in the cities force many thousands of girls to leave home and seek clerkships at a wage so low as indirectly to undermine the health and more directly to impair the morals. Great armies of these girls are compelled to live in dingy, cramped quarters, to subsist on much less than the quantity of wholesome food necessary for good health, to practice the[Pg 297] strictest economy in matters of dress—to say nothing of the constant temptation to sell their virtue as a means of increasing the small income to the living margin.

Only in extreme cases, therefore, will intelligent farm parents consent to their daughter’s leaving home to take up a clerkship, and that when her home life and her social surroundings can be satisfactorily foreseen and arranged for in advance. Even then, the question must be raised: Will this new position probably prove helpful as an introduction to a better form of occupation?

No other possible occupations for the farmer’s daughter will be listed here excepting that of trained nurse—a position in which many young women are doing a splendid service for humanity and at the same time supporting themselves adequately. But of course such a position should not be thought of unless the girl feels an inner call to take it up. Practically all other outside lines of work for women are too masculine. Parents should by no means allow their daughters to take up a life task that means nothing other than mere money-making. Many women, it is true, are succeeding to-day in business callings, but they are doing so as a rule in violation of certain laws of nature. Many of these business women are masculine in their dispositions and they become more so as the unnatural calling continues to be pursued.

[Pg 298]

A college course for the girl

At first thought it would seem that ability to prepare a good meal and to do her own sewing might constitute all the education in household economy necessary for any young woman. But such proves not to be the case. There are hundreds of home-making problems, great and small, for which mere knowledge of the two important affairs just named will provide no answer. While the ability to cook and sew well are doubtless essential characteristics of the good housekeeper, they are not at all a guarantee that their possessor is a good home maker.

Parents must learn to take the larger and more liberal view of the future of their children. Not merely practice in the culinary art, but also a developed and refined personality; not merely industrial efficiency, but also constructive ability of a social nature; not merely mechanical skill in managing the details of housework, but a set of well-matured, effective plans for making the home over which she presides a place of joy and contentment for the other members of the family—these are some of the evidences of character which the wise, far-seeing parent might well desire for his daughter. Now, it is the thesis of this chapter that the normal woman is at her best only when she has become mistress of her own well-managed household. But such an exalted position can scarcely be reached except through a broad, general course of preparation.

[Pg 299]The one-sided, classical college training has spoiled for life many otherwise good and happy women. Such a course tends strongly to draw the mind and the affections of the young woman away from the home and from motherhood and other such matters so fundamental to the well-being of the race. But in seeking for an ideal school for the daughter the farmer will find unsurpassed that institution which offers extensive courses in household art and management, supplemented fully with work in the so-called culture subjects—language, literature, history, sociology, psychology, and economics. This work constitutes what might be called a balanced schedule of instruction for the young woman. If pursued to its conclusion, such a course of training enriches her personality and multiplies her opportunities for future usefulness many fold.

Associations with refined young men

If the young woman’s preparation for her life work be satisfactory to all, she must have extensive experience in the society of young men such as only the co-educational college can give. As her position in the rural home has been already too much isolated, an exclusive women’s college is least to be desired as a place to educate the country girl. But the domestic science course in a state university or a state agricultural college will be found almost ideal. Here the girl may be held to a reasonable performance of her[Pg 300] assigned duties, while at the same time she may mingle freely in the society of both sexes.

Indeed, if the thesis of this chapter be a sound and tenable one,—namely, that normally woman’s highest satisfaction is to be sought through helping her attain efficient home life,—then, there is every reason for agreeing with the late Professor James in his contention that every young woman ought to be taught how to know a good man. It is distinctively the business of the young college woman, not only to prepare well all her lessons in household economy and the literary subjects, but also to keep her eye out for a suitable life companion. And her father should be made to realize that her opportunities for marrying a man of high worth and ability are increased many fold through the completion of a course in the ideal form of co-educational college.

Marriages among college mates are usually most successful, both in the final establishment of substantial home life and in point of resulting in a reasonable number of well-reared children. Statistics gathered widely show that the young woman college graduate marries somewhat later than her non-attending sister, that she has slightly better health, that her children are somewhat fewer, but better reared.

Plate XXXI.

Fig. 38.—a girls’ class in sewing. No girl of this age needs to wear any better garment than she can make with her own needle if she be rightly trained. Such training is a part of real preparation for life.

Make the daughter attractive

It may therefore be urged upon all rural parents, as a cold business proposition, as well as a duty, that [Pg 301]they take every reasonable precaution to develop in their growing daughters both an attractive personality and a beauty of the inner character, whether she be so fortunate as to attend a good college or not. All this must be done with a thought of rendering the daughter as attractive as possible in respect to any worthy young man who may in time seek her heart and hand in marriage. It is time for parents to cease passing this thing by as a mere piece of sentimentalism and to begin to do the fair thing by their girls. Why should it longer come to pass in this enlightened age that some parents break down the physical health of their girls with the burden of over-work and thus consign them to a life of moping and bitter disappointment for the future; that other parents indulge their girls in the giddy, butterfly type of life and thus blight their prospects of a substantial and satisfactory place in human society?

Summary and conclusion

In summarizing and concluding this chapter we wish to remind the reader of what has been said in the preceding ones. There are a number of distinctive elements that must be carefully wrought into the character of the farmer’s daughter with a view to laying a substantial foundation for her future career.

1. First of all, the girl’s health must be kept in mind. She must not have an over-burden of work heaped upon her delicate shoulders, nor must she be[Pg 302] allowed to expose herself unnecessarily to the inclemencies of the weather so common in the ordinary rural districts. There are many women moping about to-day, ill and despondent much of the time because of the negligence of parents who permitted them when growing girls to wade about through mud and slush and thus impair permanently their physical well-being. Many of the minor ailments of mature life recur habitually, and that because they were permitted to be acquired when the organism was young and sensitive.

2. The daughter must be taught how to carry on practically all the necessary details of the housework. The plain cooking and sewing and the general care of the home must be required as duties on the part of every promising girl. It is especially obligatory on the part of rural parents that they train the daughter in such a way as to make her a true mistress of the household over which she may sometime preside. She must learn through specific guidance how to subordinate the heavy home tasks to her spiritual well-being.

3. It is also essential that the girl learn how to manage the business affairs of the home; especially, how to purchase the supplies of the kitchen and the larder in the most economic fashion. She must also learn both how to secure her own personal belongings at a reasonable cost and how to make them serve her real needs without unnecessary expenditure[Pg 303] of money. It will be a great achievement in her behalf if the girl approach her marriage day thoroughly imbued with the thought of coöperating with her husband in the general business of maintaining a home.

4. We would remind the reader again of the necessity of giving attention to the development of an attractive personality in the growing girl. Pleasing manners, refined expressions, neat and attractive apparel, kindliness and sympathy, frankness and straightforwardness—all these should enter into her make-up and be thought of as parts of her permanent character. They will also go far toward winning to her side a suitable life companion.

5. The young girl on the farm should have much advice in respect to the nature and character of men. This will be achieved partly through her well-ordered social life and partly through specific talks from thoughtful parents. Country girls are probably less informed in respect to the natures of men than are city girls. Many beautiful and innocent young women are led astray either before or after marriage by evil and designing men; many of them consummate marriages with men who have an outer appearance of trustworthiness, but who harbor within some most serious and insurmountable evil and disease. Although she may not for a time be conscious of what her parents are doing, the latter should be for years purposely engaged in preparing their daughter to know at sight a good man.

[Pg 304]Finally, it may be said that there is no greater charm or thing of more superior beauty in this good world of ours than the character of a woman who has been well-born and well-reared, and who has been safely guided into the home of her own wherein she reigns as mistress supreme. In this ideal home the love and sympathy and the kindly deeds of the true home-maker will reveal themselves permanently in the lives of her children and her husband and the many others who come into contact with her constructive personality.


Women’s Ways of Earning Money. Cynthia Westover Alden. A. S. Barnes & Co.

The Home Builder. Dr. Lyman Abbott. Houghton, Mifflin Company. Sympathetic and cheering.

Almost a Woman. Mary Wood Allen, M.D. Crist, Scott & Parshall, Coopertown, N.Y. A plain talk to the young woman about her sex nature.

The Problem of Vocational Education. David Snedden, Ph.D. Chapter XII, “The Problem of Women in Industry.” Houghton, Mifflin Company.

The Vocational Guidance of Youth. Meyer Bloomfield. Chapter I, “The Choice of Life Work and its Difficulties.” Houghton, Mifflin Company.

Parenthood and Race Culture. Charles W. Saleeby M.D. Chapter X, “Marriage and Maternalism.” Moffat, Yard & Co., New York.

Should Women work for their Living? M. Yates. Westminster Review, October, 1910.

Social Diseases and Marriage. Educational Pamphlet, No. 3. American Society of Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis, New York. 10 cents. Every parent should read this booklet.

[Pg 305]

Vocational Training for Girls. Isabelle McGlaufin. Education, April, 1911.

A Healthy Race; Woman’s Vocation. C. M. Hill. Westminster Review, January, 1910.

Social Adjustment. S. Nearing. Pages 128-148, “Dependence of Women.” Macmillan.

Purposes of Women. F. W. Saleeby, M.D. Forum, January, 1911.

Does the College rob the Cradle? H. Boice. Delineator, March, 1911.

The College Woman as a Home Maker. M. E. Wooley. Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1, 1910.

The American Woman and her Home. Symposium. Outlook, April 17, 1910.

Teaching the Girl to Save. Home-Training Bulletin No. 7. 2 cents. Wm. A. McKeever, Manhattan, Kan.

[Pg 306]



In concluding this volume we wish again to remind parents of the necessity of working for specific results in the rearing of their children. Modern man, unlike his ancestor, who roamed over the earth, is a creature of complex and highly refined make-up which no primitive or natural environment could possibly produce. The forces that work upon his character development are so radically different from those which formed the life of his remote forbears as possibly to account for the contrasts in the two forms of finished personality.

Although there is evidence to support the theory that man belongs to the general evolutionary scheme of animal life, the progress of the race has been so very slow that a thousand years of time can show no very distinct improvement either in physical form or mental quality. While the human young is exceedingly plastic as an individual,—yielding easily from one side of his inherent activities to another,—the race is relatively fixed and stable.

Strive for preconceived results

Parents and other instructors of the young must therefore accept their charges as made up of very com[Pg 307]plex potentialities of learning and achievement—each a bundle of latent characters transmitted to him from the ancestral line. Many of these inherited characters are too weak in any given individual ever to show in his life conduct; many others will come to the surface only in response to proper stimuli and practice; still others will break out and show a predominance almost in defiance of any training intended to counteract them.

But the teacher and trainer of the infant child may accept the theory that the latter, if taken in time, can be bent and modified many ways in his character formation; that such plasticity is, however, always subject to the relative strength or weakness of the many inherited aptitudes and activities latent within the individual.

There is no good reason, therefore, why the parent should not begin early to build up the character of his child in accordance with a preconceived plan; provided such plan do no violence to any of nature’s stubborn and inexorable laws. The parent may also accept this task as a long and tedious undertaking, and expect to get results in proportion as he works intelligently for them. The farmer does not even think of producing good crop results from his land without hard work and much thought; then, why should he expect so delicate a plant as the human young to reach satisfactory maturity without much care and consideration? By far the greatest sin against the child is neglect of his training.

[Pg 308]

Consult expert advice

We must not be unmindful of the necessity of a balanced schedule of activities for the child. The vegetable plant must have air, sunlight, moisture, nitrogen, and so on, to support its growth. If one of these essential elements be lacking, the result is fatal to the fruitage. So with the child. If the best character results are to be expected, certain essential elements must be put into use. We have named them as play, work, recreation, and social experience. But as one approaches the individual problem of child training it does not prove so simple and easy as these terms imply. When and how to give each of these necessary exercises, how much of each to furnish, the means thereof, and the like—these and many other such questions begin to arise.

When the parent reaches the point of perplexity in dealing with his child, it is a fairly good indication that his interest is aroused, at least. But what is to be done? Simply the same thing he would do at the point of perplexity in the wheat propagation, consult an expert. If one of the work mules becomes lame or reveals a bad disposition, should the owner take it to an electrician for advice? If the family cow becomes locoed or shows an unusual result in her milk product, should one consult a piano tuner? Yet, strange to say, parents are often known to do similarly in dealing with the perplexing problems of child-rearing.[Pg 309] Consult the popular magazines and the book shelves any day and you will find many lengthy dissertations on the boy and the girl, written not infrequently by persons who have spent a lifetime studying something else. But they are very fond of children and they mistake this fondness for knowledge of an expert kind; and worst of all, they offer it as such.

The farm parents who wish to receive expert advice in the treatment of their children must learn to consult directly or through literature only those who have made a long and intensive study of child problems. And in the latter case they need not expect to obtain all necessary help from one source alone. Usually the child-study expert is a specialist in only one certain part of the field. For example, at the University of Pennsylvania under Dr. Lightner Witmer, there has been made a specialty of the sub-normal child. We should probably obtain from that source more expert help in that one phase of child welfare than from any other source in America. If one wishes reliable help on the subject of diseases of children, he should naturally expect to obtain it from some medical authority, from one Who has spent long years practicing in a general hospital for children. One of the very few great sources of information on the general psychology of child development is Clark University, where many child-welfare problems have been worked out by experts under the able direction of Dr. G. Stanley Hall.

[Pg 310]

Meet each awakening interest

A very reliable general rule of guidance for the parent child trainer is to strive to furnish intensive practice for each and every childish and juvenile interest at the time of its awakening. As stated in Chapter II the most predominant interests in the young emerge in response to the unfoldment of instincts and the development of organic growths within. Perhaps all do so. But the point of importance for the parent is to meet each of these awakenings at the time of its highest activity with intensive training. The instinct to play, to fight, to steal, to run away, to work (?), to fall in love, to engage in some occupation, to marry and make a home, to have children—these have been named as especially important by virtue of their awakening successively the individual’s interests in matters of great consequence to character development.

But instincts are blind. Their possessor does not foresee the way they point. They come suddenly and catch the subject unprepared to direct their force in what we call intelligent ways. Hence, the extreme necessity of there being present at the side of the child, at the time of his instinctive awakening, some mature and intelligent person who has been through the experiences the former is about to begin, and who will sympathetically point the right way and insist that it be followed.

[Pg 311]

Work for social democracy

One can scarcely become deeply interested in the future of his own child without coming intimately into touch with the child welfare problems at large. Even country parents, isolated though they may be, will discover that serious study of the matter of bringing up a family of good children will require that they study the lives of other human young. Moreover, they will need the use of other children as “laboratory” material for training their own. All this will gradually lead the way to a fuller social sympathy in such parents and to the inculcation of more wholesome social ideals in the minds of their offspring.

Finally, the rural parents who are seeking a full and adequate development of the young members of their own family will most probably see their way clear to assume a helpful leadership of the young people of the neighborhood as advocated in Chapter X of this volume.

While many agencies for the betterment of rural youth have been discussed,—such as the County Y.M.C.A., the Boy Scout Movement, and the Social and Economic Clubs,—the neighborhood which has at least one of these agencies intensively at work may be considered fortunate. And it may be said that such a neighborhood is well on the way to economic improvement as well as social improvement.

[Pg 312]

The outlook very promising

Throughout the United States there is being manifested a general tendency to accept the theory that our human stock is relatively sound. While there are seemingly large numbers of the criminal, delinquent, and dependent classes, they are in reality comparatively few in proportion to the entire population. And when we accept the estimate of the experts that about ninety per cent of the cases included in the classes just named are preventable through wise foresight and training, the outlook for a better race of human beings becomes most cheering.

“The proper study of mankind is man,” says the poet. But for many generations we have regarded this statement as mere poetry and not necessarily truth. Our policy up to the recent past has been rather this: The proper study of mankind is everything except man, leaving the all-important problems of child-rearing to the decisions of wise old grand-mothers and debating societies. But a radical change has come, and that within this present generation. Men and women highly trained in the colleges and universities are now applying their scientific methods to the study of man with no less zeal and earnestness than that which has characterized the student of the non-human problems for many generations of time.

Plate. XXXII.

Fig. 39.—Sowing the seed, all by herself.
Fig. 40.—Thinning the vegetables.
New York Scenes.

Through the able conclusions of the painstaking expert the so-called institutional life has been espe[Pg 313]cially improved. The industrial (reform) schools are now practicing a system of balanced activities—of study, work, play, and the like—such as the findings of these investigators have warranted. The method of paroling the delinquent child, after he has spent a term of preparation, was proved most helpful through the careful tests of a large number of cases. Recently the parole system has been effectively applied to certain classes of penitentiary convicts. A most productive agency for good now in use in many of the prisons and all the industrial schools is that of building up the waste places in the individual life through specific training and instruction. The first question raised in such cases is, What is the particular moral defect of the individual? second, What are the causes? third, What will reconstruct his character and give permanent relief? That is, the expert psychologist and the expert sociologist are being called into service with the expert alienist and physician. The purpose is to save and reconstruct the whole man. Compulsory education and trade schooling are now very common in state prisons.

In the care and protection of the insane and the feeble-minded our country can boast of but slow progress. Many of the members of these classes are permitted to run at large and even to marry and beget their kind. Now, while our human stock is in its mass very sound and sane, there are constantly being thrown off from it these mentally defective classes.[Pg 314] The complete obliteration of all such classes to-day would not result in their complete disappearance from the race. Others would be born as variants from normal parentage. But the evil of it all lies in the fact that we are still permitting many of these defectives to multiply, and that in the face of the fact that a normal child has never been reported among the offspring of two feeble-minded parents.

The modern service training

Of all the institutions contributing to the direct improvement of the race there is perhaps none surpassing in importance the modern training school for social workers. In New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and other large cities such may be found usually affiliated with some university or college. The general purpose is that of training men and women to go into the field of social service and apply the methods and conclusions worked out by the research student. Hitherto, much of the social work has been conducted by persons possessing merely religious zeal and enthusiasm. Their efforts were praiseworthy, but they lacked the training necessary for coping with modern educational and economic problems. The distinctive feature of the new methods is that it is based on scientific and business principles. That is, the social worker is trained in the same methodical way as the prospective lawyer or school teacher, and is also paid reasonably for his services.

[Pg 315]The modern social worker not only proceeds with a well-defined plan, but he usually makes or requires a survey of his newly-opened field. The social survey—now becoming more common as a means of beginning a campaign of improvement in the cities—has revealed some most interesting, as well as distressing, situations in the submerged districts. The housing situation, sanitary conditions, wages and incomes of different classes, sweat-shop employment, the protection of workmen in shops and factories, child-labor conditions, and so on—these are examples of the problems of the investigator, while his tabulated reports serve to guide the social worker. Now, the duties of the latter are many, but in general they lie in the direction of improvement of the conditions as found. Among the undertakings that often fall to his lot are: establishing new social centers in congested districts, providing for new parks and playgrounds, locating reading and recreation rooms, organizing self-help and home-improvement clubs among the lower classes, conducting cooking and sewing schools, and the like.

Of special interest to the rural dweller is the fact that the modern methods of first making surveys and then applying remedial agencies is now being extended into the country districts, giving many marked results already and promising greater ones for the future.

[Pg 316]

The state doing its part

That the nation and the state are active participants in these new forms of child-conserving and man-saving endeavor is indicated on every side.

The national government has encouraged the states in the enactment of stringent child-labor laws. In the usual instance children under fourteen to sixteen years of age are prohibited from working away from home at gainful occupations. Correlated with this is the compulsory-education law in the several states.

The national and state governments have also coöperated in the enactment of laws prohibiting the adulteration of foods and foodstuffs and in enforcing better sanitation. As a result of such measures, state and local, together with the help of greatly improved hospital practice, the infant mortality in several of the large cities has been reduced more than fifty per cent in the past decade.

Inspired by the splendid pioneer work of the National Playground Association, the cities and towns have recently made very rapid progress in the establishment of playgrounds and recreative centers for old and young. Many millions of dollars have already been expended for such purposes. Now the country districts are adopting the same means of social improvement.

The primary system of selecting candidates for political office is proving to be a most potent agency[Pg 317] for the general uplift. By means of it, better men are being inducted into office. Better still, the old corrupt practice of the ward politician, so deleterious to the character of youth, is losing its once powerful influence on government.

The so-called social evil, so damaging to the health and morals of thousands of our best young men and young women, is now under fair promise of improvement. The remarkable survey of the Chicago Vice Commission and the work of the other well-planned organizations looking to the solution of the same general problem have proved most effective in revealing the true conditions and of awakening the public conscience. All of these activities in the interest of putting down the sex evils point very clearly one moral to all conscientious parents; namely, that the best and most certain method of inculcating lessons of purity in the case of the young is through preventive measures, and through the practice of purity during the years of growth. Open and frank discussion of the sex problems as they arise normally out of the experiences of the child, admonitions and prohibitions in regard to impure associates, the insistence upon a single, and not a double, standard of purity for the two sexes—these are some of the specific duties of parents.

As an instance of what may be achieved by way of helping the weak and depraved to defend themselves against debasing habit, and especially of what may be[Pg 318] done by way of prevention of a character-destroying habit in time of youth, the Kansas prohibitory law is cited. The longer this statute remains, the more effective its work and the more unanimous the public sentiment supporting it. So popular has this measure become that no political party and no faction of any other class has been able to take any effective stand against it. It can be shown to any fair-minded investigator that the great majority of the citizens of Kansas are total abstainers from the use of intoxicants; also that the state has brought up a new generation of tens of thousands of men, now mostly voters, who have no personal knowledge of the use and abuse of alcoholic drinks and who have become confirmed as total abstainers for life.

Another unique Kansas measure—ignored and derided at first only less than was the prohibitory liquor law when new—is the statute forbidding the use of tobacco in any form on the part of minors. The wisdom of this statute is supported by the conclusions of scientific study of the effects of tobacco on the young. The general purpose of the law is to prevent the youth from taking up the tobacco-using habit before reaching full maturity of years and judgment. The general result will be the gradual development of a generation of total abstainers from the use of tobacco.

[Pg 319]

The new era of religion

Even into the sanctuary of the modern church is the new scientific spirit finding its way. It has become an accepted principle of procedure among ministers and other church workers of late that the best way to save souls is not to depend wholly upon divine grace, but to assist this subtle power by means of the constructive work of many human agencies. Preventive measures that aim at safeguarding the young against evil contaminations, the institution of social improvement organizations and of literary and economic clubs, the formation of good-fellowship societies, of societies for conducting social surveys, of committees for giving vocational guidance and for the administration of spiritual healing—these and numerous endeavors of the same class give evidence of the great service which the modern church is rendering young humanity. And all this splendid work is being carried forward without doing any violence to the essential doctrines of the great historical institution so long engaged in its serious efforts in behalf of human salvation.

Final conclusion

As a closing remark the author can only express again his belief that no past age ever held out such inspiring hope and such splendid encouragement to the many parents who appreciate the needs of intelli[Pg 320]gent care and training for their children. And because of the natural advantages of the surroundings, country parents have the greatest justification of all for being enthusiastic over the outlook. Now, let them go patiently and reverently at the work of bringing up for the service of the world a magnificent race of men and women—men who have brain and brawn and moral courage and religious devotion; women who have a profound sense of maternal responsibility, an inspiring superiority over the perplexing duties of the household, a deep and far-reaching social sympathy, and such a poise and sublimity of thought as to reveal the divinity inherent in their characters. For lo! In the hidden depths of the natures of the common boys and girls there lie slumbering these splendid possibilities!


The Meaning of Social Science. Albion W. Small. University of Chicago Press. An epoch-making book, restating ably the general problem of social reconstruction.

Report of Committee on Rural Social Problems, National Conference Charities and Corrections. Address Porter R. Lee, Sec’y for Organizing Charity, Philadelphia, Pa.

Annual Report. Association for Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality, 1211 Cathedral Street, Baltimore.

Government Report on Children as Wage-earners. Department of Commerce and Labor, Washington, D.C. This department is bringing out nineteen volumes in all, each covering a particular problem of women and children as wage-earners. The following are especially related to the subject matter of this chapter:—

[Pg 321] The Beginnings of Child Labor Legislation in Certain States;
A Comparative Study.

Annual Report of National Conference of Charities and Corrections, 1911. Charities Publication Committee, New York. See this valuable volume for reports of progress in the different lines of child-welfare effort.

The White Slave Traffic. Outlook, July 16. 1910.

The Rockefeller Grand Jury Report of White Slave Traffic. McClure, May, August, 1910.

Moral Research in Social and Economic Problems. G. Connell. Westminster Review, February, 1910.

My Lesson from the Juvenile Court. Judge Ben. B Lindsey. Survey, Feb. 5, 1910.

[Pg 323]



The following pages contain advertisements of a few of the Macmillan books on kindred subjects.

[Pg 329]


By Professor L. H. BAILEY

Director of the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell University

Four volumes. Each, cloth, 12mo. Uniform binding, attractively boxed $5.00 net per set; carriage extra. Each volume also sold separately.

In this set are included three of Professor Bailey’s most popular books as well as a hitherto unpublished one,—“The Country-Life Movement.” The long and persistent demand for a uniform edition of these little classics is answered with the publication of this attractive series.

The Country-Life Movement

Cloth, 12mo, 220 pages, $1.25 net; by mail, $1.34

This hitherto unpublished volume deals with the present movement for the redirection of rural civilization, discussing the real country-life problem as distinguished from the city problem, known as the back-to-the-land movement.

The Outlook to Nature (New and Revised Edition)

Cloth, 12mo, 195 pages, $1.25 net; by mail, $1.34

In this alive and bracing book, full of suggestion and encouragement, Professor Bailey argues the importance of contact with nature, a sympathetic attitude toward which “means greater efficiency, hopefulness, and repose.”

The State and the Farmer (New Edition)

Cloth, 12mo, $1.25 net; by mail, $1.34

It is the relation of the farmer to the government that Professor Bailey here discusses in its varying aspects. He deals specifically with the change in agricultural methods, in the shifting or the geographical centers of farming in the United States, and in the growth of agricultural institutions.

The Nature Study Idea (New Edition)

Cloth, 12mo, $1.25 net; by mail, $1.34

“It would be well,” the critic of The Tribune Farmer once wrote, “if ‘The Nature Study Idea’ were in the hands of every person who favors nature study in the public schools, of every one who is opposed to it, and, most important, of every one who teaches it or thinks he does.” It has been Professor Bailey’s purpose to interpret the new school movement to put the young into relation and sympathy with nature,—a purpose which he has admirably accomplished.

[Pg 330]


How to Keep Bees for Profit


Cloth, 12mo, illustrated, $1.50 net

Dr. Lyon is an enthusiast on bees. He has devoted many years to the acquisition of knowledge on this subject, and his book is a practical one. In it he takes up the numerous questions that confront the man who keeps bees, and deals with them from the standpoint of long experience.

How to Keep Hens for Profit


Cloth, 12mo, illustrated, $1.50 net

Mr. Valentine is a well-known authority upon the subject. His knowledge is extensive and accurate; the information that he gives will be of service, not only to the amateur who keeps poultry for his own pleasure, but to the man who wishes to derive from it a considerable portion of his income.

Manual of Gardening


Cloth, 12mo, illustrated, $2.00 net

This new work is a combination and revision of the main parts of two other books by the same author, “Garden Making,” and “Practical Garden-Book,” together with much new material and the results of the experience of ten added years.

How to Grow Vegetables


New edition. Decorated cloth, 12mo, illustrated, $1.75 net; by mail, $1.80

“It is what it purports to be, a practical handbook and planting table for the vegetable garden. Its directions for growing in our northern climate are detailed and explicit, and will be of invaluable assistance to those who follow them intelligently.”—Boston Budget.

“The instructions are terse, yet complete, and cover everything as to method of preparing the ground, sowing seed, cultivation, etc. Practicality and clearness of direction are the dominant notes of Mr. French’s book.”—Brooklyn Eagle.

[Pg 331]

A Self-Supporting Home


Cloth, 12mo, fully illustrated from photographs, $1.75 net

“Each chapter is the detailed account of all the work necessary for one month—in the vegetable garden, among the small fruits, with the fowls, guineas, rabbits, cavies, and in every branch of husbandry to be met with on the small farm.”—Louisville Courier-Journal.

The Earth’s Bounty


Cloth, 12mo, illustrated, $1.75 net

The present volume, though in no sense dependent on “A Self-Supporting Home,” is in a sense a sequel to it. The feminine owner is still the heroine, and the new book chronicles the events after success permitted her to acquire more land and put to practical test the ideas gleaned from observation and reading.

The Fat of the Land: The Story of an American Farm


Cloth, 12mo, $1.50 net

“The Fat of the Land” is the sort of book that ought to be epoch-making in its character, for it tells what can be accomplished through the application of business methods to the farming business. Never was the freshness, the beauty, the joy, the freedom of country life put in a more engaging fashion. From cover to cover it is a fascinating book, practical withal, and full of common sense.

Three Acres and Liberty


Cloth, 12mo, illustrated, $1.75 net

Possibilities of the small suburban farm, and practical suggestions to city dwellers how to acquire and make profitable use of them.

[Pg 332]

The Feeding of Animals


Cloth, 12mo, illustrated, 450 pages, $1.50 net; by mail, $1.65

“A valuable contribution to agricultural literature. Not a statement of rules or details of practice, but an effort to present the main facts and principles fundamental to the art of feeding animals.”—New England Farmer.

Rural Hygiene


Professor of Sanitary Engineering, College of Civil Engineering, Cornell University, and Special Assistant Engineer of the New York State Department of Health

Illustrated, decorated cloth, 12mo, $1.50 net; by mail, $1.68

“Farmers and other dwellers outside of cities will find Professor Henry N. Ogden’s ‘Rural Hygiene’ an invaluable treatise on all matters pertaining to the health of the individual and the community. The author, a civil engineer in the faculty of Cornell University, deals with the structural side of public hygiene rather than with the medical side. He tells how houses and barns should be built so as to promote the good health of their occupants; how to manage ventilation, drainage, water supply, etc.; how waterworks should be built, what are the best kinds of power, how to arrange the plumbing, guard against sewage, and so on. . . . It is an unusually complete, practical, and readable treatise.”—Chicago Record-Herald.

Law for the American Farmer

By JOHN D. GREEN, of the New York Bar.

Decorated cloth, 12mo, $1.50 net; by mail, $1.68

“The book is superior to any of its class.”—Law Review.

“Very comprehensive and valuable.”—Kansas Farmer.

“Written with great thoroughness and accuracy.”—Chicago Inter-Ocean.


Publishers   64-66 Fifth Avenue   New York


Punctuation has been normalized without note.

Archaic or alternate spellings have been retained.

Plate X: 1st edition has a different caption for this plate: An illustration of "Corn Sunday," as instituted by Superintendent George W. Brown in the rural churches in the vicinity of Paris, Illinois.

Page 99, References: "Colton" changed to "Cotton" (John Cotton Dana).

Page 127, References: 1st edition has 1906, not 1905, as publication date for "The Most Practical Industrial Education for the Country Child."

Page 140, "One boy may have have caught" changed to "One boy may have caught"

Page 329: "County-Life" changed to "Country-Life" ("The Country-Life Movement.")

[The end of Farm Boys and Girls by William A. McKeever]