Iowa

In this high-tech, fast-paced world we live in, sometimes it's good to take a look at our past.

For instance, read one of the nation's first social surveys of a rural community.

Iowa State University rural sociologists conducted it in 1918 by personally interviewing each of the 142 families of Orange Township in Black Hawk County, just south of Waterloo. Farming was their sole occupation.

In the research bulletin outlining the survey's results, Professor George Von Tungeln wrote: "The study of agriculture should be something more than a study of its economic problems. It should be educational, moral, political, religious and social as well."

Von Tungeln described the people of Orange Township as "a rural people well-to-do. Such people already know quite well how to meet the first of the two big problems that all people must meet, the problem of getting a living. It is only natural

that they should now be much concerned about how to put more joy into the getting of that living and how to get more joy out of that living."

The report deals with the township's education--10 one-room schools consolidated in 1916; moral conditions--"The stranger is at once impressed with the high moral standards which seem to prevail. He hears very little swearing and even less telling of vile stories."; and religious conditions--one church in the township, with 350 people attending Sunday morning services.

The average size of a farm in the township was 157 acres. The largest individual land holding in the township was 734 acres and the smallest was one acre. The largest piece of land farmed by one person was 480 acres. Farmers in the township could participate in several cooperatives, including egg selling, threshing and silo filling, cow testing and a creamery.

The survey delved into something frequently asked today--what will keep young people interested in farming? When asked why young people leave the farm, respondents gave these reasons: drudgery, lack of a social life, no chance to make anything for themselves, and "town life is easier."

When asked how the most promising young people could be kept on the farm, respondents said parents should bring young people into a partnership, and offer more conveniences, more leisure and shorter hours. One farmer said the best way was to "show children everything so the novelty wears off" and another said it was best "not to supply money to children who leave the farm."

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