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- By: Steven J. Keillor
- Format: Cloth
- Publisher: MHS Press
- Usually ships in: 1-3 business days
- ISBN 0-87351-377-0
In this groundbreaking work, Keillor examines how rural Minnesotans used the principles of cooperation in their attempt to gain control of local economies and to exercise that control according to democratic principles.
Rural cooperatives of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries stood at the crossroads of politics, economics, ethnicity, religion, rural sociology, and technology. Often sponsored by agrarian protest groups, such as the Grange and the Farmers' Alliance, they drew strength from the solidarity of ethnic groups in recruiting members and maintaining loyalty.
More than 600 cooperative creameries, 150 township mutual fire insurance companies, hundreds of rural telephone associations, and 270 farmers' elevators were impressive proof of the power of cooperation before World War II. Minnesota became known as one of the most cooperative-minded states in the Union. Many of these types of cooperatives have never been studied, and none has been adequately analyzed.
This is a collective biography of Minnesota's rural people, told in their own words through newspapers and minutes of local meetings. From the dairy farmers of Freeborn County to the organizers of cooperative stores in Brown County, from the businessmen of the telephone associations in Kandiyohi County to the county agents of Douglas County, the opinions and debates of the crossroads community emerge. The cooperatives that farmers organized, financed, and supported made rural Minnesota the "cooperative commonwealth."
STEVEN J. KEILLOR has taught history at the University of Minnesota and at Iowa State University and is the author of Hjalmar Petersen of Minnesota: The Politics of Provincial Independence (also published by MHS Press).
Praise for Cooperative Commonwealth:
"An important contribution to the history of Minnesota and the cooperative movement in American agriculture. No other work provides a survey of the origin and development of these rural cooperatives. This study should serve as a standard reference for the cooperative movement in Minnesota and provide an important perspective on the rural cooperative movement in general." -- R. Douglas Hurt, professor and director of the Graduate Program in Agricultural History and Rural Studies, Iowa State University
"An important work on an important topic. It will be of value to historians, economists, sociologists and other academic specialties. It will also be useful for farm and rural leaders." -- Gilbert C. Fite, author of Nothing but Prairie and Sky: Life on the Dakota Range in the Early Days
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