Capturing the Architecture of American Agriculture – and a Passing Way of Life

For 45 years, David Hanks has photographed feed mills in every season and mood. By David HanksPhotographer “Why would anyone want to take pictures of a place like this?” That’s the question I often get when I enter the office of a feed mill or grain elevator, asking permission to make photographs on the property[…]

Faith in the City: Religion and Urban Life in Chicago, 1870-1920

How, if at all, did religious communities change their inherited traditions in the midst of new surroundings? Introduction In the fifty years between the Civil War and World War I, the United States experienced a dramatic transformation. In 1870, three-quarters of the population lived in rural areas; by 1920, over half the nation lived in[…]

A Short History of the Idea of ‘Main Street’ in America

From Nathaniel Hawthorne to Disneyland, the concept has represented both the experimental and the conventional. In the United States, Main Street has always been two things—a place and an idea. As both, Main Street has embodied the contradictions of the country itself. It is the self-consciousness of the idea of Main Street—from its origins in[…]

Picturing the Farms of Ohio and Pennsylvania in the Late 18th Century

For a small price, Ferdinand Brader would draw a bird’s-eye view of someone’s homestead. When Ferdinand A. Brader (1833–1901) left Switzerland for America in the early 1870s, he carried with him the skills of a mold-maker and a baker. Born and raised in the Swiss town of Kaltbrunn, Canton of St. Gallen, he worked in[…]