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The Minnesota Community

The Minnesota Community: Country and Town in Transition

Lowry Nelson
Copyright Date: 1960
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    The Minnesota Community
    Book Description:

    The Minnesota Community was first published in 1960. Minnesota was almost entirely a wilderness 100 years ago, and for most of the last century it has been predominantly rural in its settlement and agricultural in its economy. Now the state is in dramatic transition, with a blurring of the lines between town and country and a changing economy that gives the lead to industry. How did these changes come about and what do they portend for the future of the state, its industries, and its people? What significance have such changes for the nation as a whole? Professor Nelson’s study helps to answer questions like these. A sociologist, he examines the state and its changing aspects with regard to rural life and rural-urban relationships. In this context, he traces the development of the state from its earliest history, describing the land and its settlers, their national origins, composition of farm families and standards of rural living, education, government, and churches, with analyses of the people’s attitudes toward schooling, discussion of trends in local government, and history and analysis of church membership, religions represented, and geographic distribution of churches. The rural problem area of the cutover land in northern Minnesota is fully discussed in a separate chapter. In conclusion, the author considers factors which will favor the maintenance of the present farm population and explains why he predicts that the future will see an integration of town and country. The study is unusual in that it encompasses a single state as a unit for analysis and considers many aspects not ordinarily included in sociological studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6382-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  3. I Under All, the Land
    (pp. 3-17)

    A remarkable and sobering fact about our planet is that all forms of life, including man, depend upon a thin layer of topsoil often no more than a few inches deep. Within this marvelous association of organisms and minerals, and by virtue of the miracle of photosynthesis through which sunlight gives its life-giving power, all the food that sustains life in any form is produced. Because man has a superior intelligence, he has been able to cooperate with forces of nature in greatly accelerating the earth’s productivity.

    Most of this acceleration has taken place within the comparatively recent past. Although...

  4. II The People Came
    (pp. 18-38)

    A Hundred years is but a moment in historical time, but in terms of recent human experience the last century is a period of remarkable changes. I emphasizerecentbecause it probably required several hundred thousand years for man to increase his numbers to the first billion, about a century ago. Since then he has more than doubled his numbers.¹

    A little more than four and a half centuries ago, the great Western Hemisphere was not even known to exist by Europeans and Asians. It was peopled by human beings, but very sparsely. The indigenous peoples knew little of agriculture...

  5. III Of Kindreds, Tongues, and Peoples
    (pp. 39-53)

    The people of Minnesota are the descendants of immigrants from nearly all the countries of the world. Because the census publishes only the important nationalities and lumps the remainder under “all others,” it is impossible to know just how many different strains compose the state’s population. Nevertheless, we know that the vast majority came originally from Europe.

    Although twenty-seven countries were listed in 1930 as contributing to the white population the great majority came from three countries: Germany, Sweden, and Norway. In short, if we include Finland and Denmark with these three nations, the total amounts to 70 per cent...

  6. IV Families Old and New
    (pp. 54-69)

    The family is the only major social institution that has a predetermined end; like human beings, families are born and die. No such preordained cycle characterizes governments, churches, or educational institutions. Their members come into them and pass out, according to their personal life cycles, but the life cycle of the institution is not visibly affected. Not so with the family; it is geared to the birth, maturation, decline, and demise of its members. Of course, the family as an institution is an ongoing concern, but the individual family runs its inevitable cycle from marriage through the various stages, dictated...

  7. V The Reach and the Grasp
    (pp. 70-82)

    Only a few years ago the phrase “standard of living” was universally used to designate the mode of life of the family, including such things as income, housing, and expenditures for various items necessary for the satisfaction of wants. Today a distinction is made betweenlevelandstandardof living. The logic of this distinction is that standard carries the meaning and connotation of a goal, an ideal, an end to work toward. The standard of living, therefore, represents the total of the wants of a given person, family, or group, and as such it covers not only what has...

  8. VI There Shall Be Education in the Land
    (pp. 83-98)

    Establishing social life and institutions in a land that is being wrested from the wilderness calls for heroic effort. The pioneers who came to settle the land of Minnesota were motivated, quite naturally, by the prospect of improving their economic condition. But their aspirations went beyond the material. Many came from countries and communities where social life was well established and where opportunities for learning the basic arts of writing, reading, and ciphering were available even to the poor. Not all took advantage of these opportunities perhaps, but the literacy rates in Northern and Western Europe were relatively high for...

  9. VII Government for the People
    (pp. 99-113)

    Institutions are made for man and not man for institutions. Government is a means to an end, and not an end in itself. Government of some kind is indispensable to society, not only as a device for control and regulation — a negative objective — but also, in recent times especially, as a device for collective action toward attaining numerous services. In this latter sense, it may be regarded as a means through which and by which people cooperate to satisfy many common needs. Farmers, for example, when they failed in their efforts to attain controls over their production by voluntary association,...

  10. VIII The Churches: From Cabin to Cathedral
    (pp. 114-125)

    Religion, being a matter of the mind and spirit, is readily transported across the world. It is charged no freight by sea or land carriers; it is subjected to no customs duties at international frontiers. It was with the first settlers on Minnesota land, in their cabins on the prairies or in the forests. And by the subtle ways in which human beings transmit their culture through the generations, it is with the children of the pioneers a century later in their fine chapels and cathedrals.

    Minnesota has drawn its various and numerous brands of organized religion from as many...

  11. IX The Cutover: Our Rural Problem Area
    (pp. 126-146)

    No section of the state of Minnesota is more attractive from the standpoint of scenic beauty and the opportunities it affords for all kinds of outdoor recreation than that which has long been referred to as the Cutover. (The favored designation now is the Northern Forested Area.) Moreover, no part of the state has a history which is garlanded with more romance or enlivened by greater adventure. It is truly a fabulous land of forests, of lakes and streams, of game and fish and wild fowl. It is a land where tens of thousands of people come each summer from...

  12. X The Future Will Be Different
    (pp. 147-164)

    Population change is the dominant factor in considering the possible future development of life in Minnesota and especially in rural Minnesota. “Change” is used rather than “growth,” because not only is simple numerical growth important, but the changes in age, sex, and other aspects within a population are of great importance also. Moreover, while growth is assumed as practically automatic, the wise position to take is that change may possibly result in decline. Indeed, the situation facing the farm population is one of decline for the near future, as it has been for many years in the past. This decline...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 167-168)
    (pp. 169-171)
  15. Index
    (pp. 172-175)