Catalogue


Heavy burdens on small shoulders [electronic resource] : the labour of pioneer children on the Canadian Prairies /
Sandra Rollings-Magnusson.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
Edmonton : University of Alberta Press, c2009.
description
xii, 177 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
ISBN
0888645090, 9780888645098
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Edmonton : University of Alberta Press, c2009.
isbn
0888645090
9780888645098
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
contents note
Division of Labour in the Family Farming Economy -- Research Method: A Sociological Analysis of Historical Data -- Typology of Children's Labour Contributions to the Operation of Prairie Farms -- Outline of the Book -- Attitudes Toward Child Labour and Children's Assistance in Pre-Production Work -- Labour Needs of the Pioneer Family Farm -- Initial Demands on Children's Labour: Establishing Prairie Farms -- Productive Labour -- Field Work -- Livestock Production -- Entrepreneurial Labour -- Paid Employment -- Raising Animals for Sale -- Gopher Bounties and Trapping -- Sales of Fruit and Other Produce -- Subsistence Labour -- Obtaining Water -- Obtaining Fuel -- Animal Products -- Hunting and Fishing -- Gardening and Harvesting: Wild Fruits and Vegetables -- Protection of the Family from Insects and Other Animal Life -- Protection of the Family from Prairie Fires -- Domestic Labour -- Gendered Roles -- Food Preparation -- Washing Clothes and Making Beds -- Cleaning the Home and its Contents -- Sewing, Knitting, Crocheting, and Other Practical Skills -- Caring for Children -- Conclusion.
abstract
"The phrase "child labour" carries negative undertones in today's society. However, only a century ago on the Canadian Prairies, youngsters laboured alongside their parents - working the land, cleaning stovepipes, and chopping wood. By shouldering their share of the chores, these children learned the domestic and manual labour skills needed for life on a Prairie family farm. Rollings-Magnusson uses historic research, photographs, and personal anecdotes to describe the kinds of work performed by children and how each task fit into the family economy. This book is a vital contribution to Western Canadian History as well as family and gender studies."--pub. desc.
catalogue key
10507986
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Reviews
Review Quotes
"The author's questions underscore my own fascination with pioneer homesteading in southern Alberta; namely, what was life really like back then? How did families survive? What roles did women and children play'... If you are interested in Western Canadian pioneer history, if you are a descendant of a pioneer family and have heard about the trials and tribulations of prairie life, or even if you are convinced that today's children might learn from reading about pioneer farm life in the 1890s and early 1900s, then this book is worth reading. For most readers, the book will be an eye-opener on how children played a significant role in pioneer farm life." David Flower, ATA Magazine, Vol. 90, No. 2 [Full review athttp://www.teachers.ab.ca/QUICK%20LINKS/PUBLICATIONS/MAGAZINE/VOLUME%2090/NUMBER%202/Pages/BookReview.aspx]
"This book shows through charts and first-person accounts that children were put to work on farms and homesteads as soon as they were able, and that families benefited because of it. When setting out, homesteaders had so much to do that any family contributions were essential." Alberta History, Autumn 2009
"Rollings-Magnusson's work is a treasure trove. Anyone familiar with rural and agricultural history knows that young people worked, but her book provides a wealth of information with which scholars may not be familiar.... The author gives the children the opportunity to speak for themselves, sometimes revealing desperation and overwhelming burdens, but also acknowledging the pride they felt in vital work done well.... The book provides an excellent addition to the scholarship on prairie agriculture in North America and the family dimensions of farm-making. Historians may, however, want a bit more.... That said, Heavy Burdens on Small Shoulders is an engaging, well-written, and highly useful book that should be read by anyone with an interest in the development of prairie farms." Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, South Dakota History, Winter 2010
"The labour of sturdy women and children was vital to development of the Prairies and author Sandra Rollings-Magnusson provides fascinating examples of work done by children during the opening of the West. She makes no judgments, but it's plain from the anecdotes she has compiled that children from the late 1800s and early 1900s were called upon to do work that few parents would ask of children today. Hand-milk 11 cows twice daily? Cut sod blocks for houses? Drive a herd of cattle for 60 miles, on foot, at the age of 11? Arduous tasks undertaken by children, documented in the book, and no longer required. Children on prairie farms were expected to work, plain and simple." Barb Glen, The Western Producer, November 12, 2009 [Full article athttp://www.producer.com/Opinion/Article.aspx'aid=14010]
"[The book], the culmination of a study the author undertook to explore the role children's work played on family farms in the prairies during the period of settlement between 1871 and 1913, is enlightening and fascinating. The story of children in pioneer communities, much like the story of women, is not well understood, so this project adds much to the understanding of the history of the Canadian west and the role that children played." Rob Alexander, Rocky Mountain Outlook, August 13, 2009
“Only a century ago on the Canadian prairies, young people labored alongside their parents working the land, chopping wood, and doing other necessary chores, all the while learning the domestic and manual labor skills needed for life on a family farm. The author uses historic research, photographs, and personal anecdotes to describe the kinds of work performed by children and how these tasks fit into the family economy. The book contributes to the study of western Canadian history as well as family and gender studies.” Oregon Historical Quarterly, Winter 2009
Only a century ago on the Canadian prairies, young people labored alongside their parents working the land, chopping wood, and doing other necessary chores, all the while learning the domestic and manual labor skills needed for life on a family farm. The author uses historic research, photographs, and personal anecdotes to describe the kinds of work performed by children and how these tasks fit into the family economy. The book contributes to the study of western Canadian history as well as family and gender studies.” Oregon Historical Quarterly, Winter 2009
"Heavy Burdens is a well-researched and documented study which illuminates an important aspect of pioneer life on the prairies. In many books of this nature, children are rarely, if ever, mentioned. In this book, their contribution to the establishment and survival of farming is the story. Pioneers, given land grants for moving to Canada, were expected to have their farms up and running in three years. Without the help of children, this would have been impossible.... Some of the details in Heavy Burdens are fascinating.... The experiences of some of the children included in Heavy Burdens could form the basis of scenes in plays.... There are a number of helpful teaching aids in Heavy Burdens, which make it useful for independent study. These include an index, data sources, a bibliography, and extensive notes. In addition, there are a number of quite dramatic black and white photographs placed throughout the book. There are also a number of useful tables illustrating the activities of farm children.... Highly Recommended." Thomas F. Chambers, CM Magazine, November 2009 Full review at [http://www.umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/vol16/no12/heavyburdensonsmallshoulders.html]
"If you have ever indulged in a flight of fancy about the romantic simplicity of pioneer days, then you must read Sandra Rollings-Magnusson's book. It will set you right in no time....Her book is absolutely fascinating, and that's because Rollings-Magnusson understands that if the devil is in the details, so is the beauty. Fully aware that the best and most revealing history is to be found in the lives of everyday folks, she has mined an incredible motherlode of journals, letters and memoirs to draw a riveting picture of life as it really was lived on the Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan prairies.... The author's emphasis is on child labour on the prairies, and these pioneer children were spared little of it....Rollings-Magnusson has written a marvellously fresh account of the lives of prairie pioneers in the most delightful way possible--by giving those long-gone folks the freedom to tell the stories of their daily lives in their own words." Naomi Lakritz, The Calgary Herald, August 2, 2009
"Heavy Burdens on Small Shoulders by Sandra Rollings-Magnusson makes noteworthy contributions to our understanding of children's work in the past. The overarching point that Rollings-Magnusson's study fleshes out is that the varied labor contributions made by children, particularly during the intense phase of settlement on the prairies, was critical to the survival of settler families. Likening the 'economically invisible' but critical work done by farm women to that of children, Rollings-Magnusson lays out a typology or system of classification based on both gender and age to more fully account for the kinds of work that children did and what this work represented for various farm family economies. This compact book would be an excellent volume for undergraduate courses devoted to the history of the family, work, and/or the history of children and youth" Mona Gleason, H-Canada, H-Net Reviews, November 2009. [Full review at:http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php'id=25772]
"The contribution of pioneer children (aged 4-16) to the economic survivalof Canadian prairie farms is little known. Heavy Burdens examines theself-reported labor of 260 children in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitobabetween 1871 and 1913... The nature and value of such tasks are consideredthrough extremely readable excerpting and summarizing of first-handaccounts. It is difficult to convey how truly engaging this approach is--thework, its circumstance, meaning and effect are vivid and poignant.... Thebook's essential values is in clarifying the extent and worth of childagricultural labor and, secondarily, the role of children in the pioneerfamily. Yet it also sheds useful light on modern policy debates....Pedagogically, the book is accessible to undergraduates and provides auseful introduction to both frontier life and the way in which familiesadapt to the demands of economic systems." Bob Barnetson, Great PlainsResearch, Vol. 20, No. 2., 2010
"Drawing on a wealth of diairies, memoirs, letters, photography and poems, and supplemented by official records including census reports, this book analyses the work experiences of 260 children, concentrated between the ages of nine and fourteen. Although it does not look at such topics as children's schooling, social interactions, religious practices or play, it exemplifies a new paradigm in child studies, one that foregrounds children's voices, experience and agency... Like Elizabeth Hampsten, Pamela Riney-Kehrberg and Lillian Schlissel, this volume paints a grim picture of demanding labour and bitter exploitation, loneliness and privation. But this volume also breaks fresh ground. First, it demonstrates that farm chlhildren contributed to virtually every job on pioneer farms and that these contributions were essential. Without child labour, many pioneer farms would certainly have failed. Second, this work shows how chilren's economic contributions, like those of their mothers, were rendered invisible. Unpaid and subsumed within a farm's total production, children's farm labour went unmentioned in public records, leaving the misimpression that it was of marginal value. Third, and perhaps most improtant, this book's highly detailed and profoundly moving first-hand accounts of children's work make it devastatingly clear that children worked not out of a fear of punishment, but out of an understanding that their labour was essential to their family's collective wellbeing." Steven Mintz, Gender and History, 2010
"This is a useful little book, accessible to undergraduates in history, sociology, Canadian Studies, and other fields, while providing a handyaddition to the libraries of scholars of child labour and family life. Its strength lies in its detailed confirmation of children's work as critical to family survival in the nineteenth and early twentieth century period of prairie farm settlement. Using diaries, letters, memoirs, autobiographies, and other first person accounts, historical sociologist Sandra Rollings-Magnusson draws on the evidence of 260 children, 97 girls and 132 boys, aged from three to their late teens, living in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The result is some wonderfully thick description that is hard to find elsewhere. I especially enjoyed the fulsome account of the process of building a soddie, or sod house, in the second chapter and of youngsters' efforts to aid family economies, and sometimes their own dreams of pony or rifle ownership, through entrepreneurial initiatives. Children's voices, dreams, and pride emerge very clearly as a marked feature of this volume." Veronica Strong-Boag, Left History 14.1
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Summaries
Main Description
This is a unique investigation which focuses on an aspect of prairie history that has been overlooked in Canadian literature -- the labour of children. It details the findings of a study into the role that children's work played in the execution of homesteading operations during the pioneer era between 1871 and 1913. Analysing the labour of boys and girls, whether helping to build the family home, taking part in productive, subsistence or entrepreneurial tasks, or being responsible for various domestic duties, enables the reader to understand how important children's work was to the success of the family farm. Furthermore, when economic, social, political difficulties, and environmental hazards of the time are also taken into account, the labour contribution of children becomes even more remarkable. Using a variety of archival materials, the author has conducted a study that gives readers a fuller understanding of how families survived, how the wheat economy was developed, and how burdens were carried on the shoulders of the smallest farm labourers.
Main Description
The phrase "child labour" carries negative undertones in today's society. However, only a century ago on the Canadian Prairies, youngsters laboured alongside their parents -- working the land, cleaning stovepipes, and chopping wood. By shouldering their share of the chores, these children learned the domestic and manual labour skills needed for life on a Prairie family farm. Rollings-Magnusson uses historic research, photographs, and personal anecdotes to describe the kinds of work performed by children and how each task fit into the family economy. This book is a vital contribution to Western Canadian History as well as family and gender studies.
Long Description
Heavy Burdens on Small Shoulders is a unique investigation which focuses on an aspect of prairie history that has been overlooked in Canadian literature—the labour of children. It details the findings of a study into the role that children’s work played in the execution of homesteading operations during the pioneer era between 1871 and 1913. Analyzing the labour of boys and girls, whether helping to build the family home, taking part in productive, subsistence or enterpreneurial tasks, or being responsible for various domestic duties, enables the reader to understand how important children’s work was to the success of the family farm. Furthermore, when economic, social, political difficulties, and environmental hazards of the time are also taken into account, the labour contribution of children becomes even more remarkable. Using a variety of archival materials, the author has conducted a study that gives readers a fuller understanding of how families survived, how the wheat economy was developed, and how burdens were carried on the shoulders of the smallest farm labourers.
Back Cover Copy
Front CoverHeavy Burdens on Small Shoulders: The Labour of Pioneer Children on the Canadian PrairiesSandra Rollings-MagnussonSpineHeavy Burdens on Small Shoulders: The Labour of Pioneer Children on the Canadian PrairiesRollings-MagnussonBack Cover:The phrase "child labour" carries negative undertones in today's society. However, only a century ago on the Canadian prairies, youngsters laboured alongside their parents working the land, cleaning stovepipes, and chopping wood. By shouldering their share of the chores, these children learned the domestic and manual labour skills needed for life on a prairie family farm. Rollings-Magnusson uses historic research, photographs, and personal anecdotes to describe the kinds of work performed by children and how each task fit into the family economy. Heavy Burdens on Small Shoulders is a vital contribution to western Canadian history as well as family and gender studies.Sandra Rollings-Magnusson teaches Sociology at MacEwan College. Her research interests include political economy, sociology of the family, social policy, and gender and ethnic studies. She is currently researching the economic, political, and social lives of pioneer families on the western prairies. Rollings-Magnusson lives in Edmonton.The University of Alberta PressISBN: 978-0-88864-509-8Printed in Canada$34.95 in CanadaBook design by Jason Dewinetzwww.uap.ualberta.ca
Main Description
The phrase "child labour" carries negative undertones in today's society. However, only a century ago on the Canadian Prairies, youngsters laboured alongside their parents' working the land, cleaning stovepipes, and chopping wood. By shouldering their share of the chores, these children learned the domestic and manual labour skills needed for life on a Prairie family farm. Rollings-Magnusson uses historic research, photographs, and personal anecdotes to describe the kinds of work performed by children and how each task fit into the family economy. This book is a vital contribution to western Canadian history as well as family and gender studies.
Bowker Data Service Summary
The phrase 'child labour' carries negative undertones in today's society. However, only a century ago on the Canadian Prairies, youngsters worked alongside their parents. The author uses historic research, photos, and anecdotes to describe the kinds of work performed by children and how each task fit into the family economy.
Long Description
Heavy Burdens on Small Shoulders is a unique investigation which focuses on an aspect of prairie history that has been overlooked in Canadian literature—the labour of children. It details the findings of a study into the role that children’s work played in the execution of homesteading operations during the pioneer era between 1871 and 1913. Analyzing the labour of boys and girls, whether helping to build the family home, taking part in productive, subsistence or enterpreneurial tasks, or being responsible for various domestic duties, enables the reader to understand how important children’s work was to the success of the family farm. Furthermore, when economic, social, political difficulties, and environmental hazards of the time are also taken into account, the labour contribution of children becomes even more remarkable. Using a variety of archival materials, the author has conducted a study that gives readers a fuller understanding of how families survived, how the wheat economy was developed, and how burdens were carried on the shoulders of the smallest farm labourers.
Table of Contents
The Division of Labour in the Family Farming Economy
Attitude Toward Child Labour & Children's Assistance in Pre-Production Work
Productive Labour
Entrepreneurial Labour
Subsistence Labour
Domestic Labour
Conclusion
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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