Rediscovering the "Farmless" Farm Population: The Nineteenth-Century Census and the Postbellum Reorganization of Agriculture in the U.S. South, 1860-1900

Authors

  • Robert Tracy McKenzie

Abstract

Historical analysis of the reorganization of agriculture in the postbellum American South has tended to exclude a sizable proportion of the region's free farm population. This "farmless farm population" consisted of household heads who reported a farm occupation on the 1860 and 1880 population censuses but who did not appear in the list of farm operators in the corresponding agricultural schedules. Using cross-sectional census datafrom 1860, 1880, and 1900 for eight counties in Tennessee, the author attempts to determine as precisely as possible the numerical importance of the farmless farm population and to demonstrate this group's corresponding capacity to distort analysis of such structural questions as the distribution of wealth, the extent of landlessness, or the prevalence of economic independence.

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Published

01.11.1995

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Articles