The Proof Is in the Dough
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The Proof Is in the Dough

Rural Southern Women, Extension, and Making Money

Title Details

Pages: 224

Illustrations: 20 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 01/15/2025

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6791-0

List Price: $29.95

eBook

Pub Date: 01/15/2025

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6794-1

List Price: $29.95

eBook

Pub Date: 01/15/2025

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6793-4

List Price: $29.95

Hardcover

Pub Date: 01/15/2025

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6792-7

List Price: $119.95

The Proof Is in the Dough

Rural Southern Women, Extension, and Making Money

How southern women applied their agricultural and domestic skills to improve their lives

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The Proof Is in the Dough examines how rural white and African American women in Alabama and Florida used the Cooperative Extension Service’s home demonstration programming between 1914 and 1929 as a means to earn extra income. Kathryn L. Beasley explores an area of rural women’s history that has not been closely examined—that is, how rural American women involved with home demonstration used the skills they learned as a way to better themselves economically. Furthermore, Beasley traces how this extra income allowed these women to shape their own producing and consuming habits.

While most home demonstration programming during the Progressive Era and 1920s focused on ways to save money—among other objectives—rural women in Alabama and Florida used different strategies to earn more money and gain some economic independence. Beasley’s research shows how Alabama and Florida’s rural women exercised their own determination and resourcefulness to create ways to economically sustain themselves by using food, tangible items, handicrafts, small businesses, and more to their advantage.

However, while there were similarities in how these rural women earned extra money, the states in which they lived differed in important agricultural ways. Florida offered a wider variety of growing and environmental seasons and, as a result, a larger diversity of crops. By taking a comparative approach—both Florida versus Alabama and Black versus white—Beasley details the unique and innovative ways that rural southern women applied their considerable agricultural and domestic skills to improve their lives and the lives of their families. In so doing, she also reveals how disposable income helped establish ideas of empowerment and financial independence in the years before the economic struggles of the 1930s.

The Proof Is in the Dough is well written and successfully adds to the scholarship on rural, southern women’s history. It could be utilized by both upper division and graduate students who study American history, southern history, women’s history, rural history, and foodways studies.

—Dawn Herd-Clark, assistant professor of history, Hillsborough Community College

About the Author/Editor

KATHRYN L. BEASLEY received her PhD in history from Florida State University. She grew up with a close association with the Cooperative Extension Service, which sparked her interest in agricultural and rural history. She is a recipient of the Southern Association for Women Historians’ A. Elizabeth Taylor Prize for the best article in the field of southern women’s history. Her writing has also appeared in the Alabama Review, Florida Historical Quarterly, the Journal of the NACAA, Peanut Science, and the White House Quarterly.