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Farming - Be a Curator!

Be a Museum Curator!

Look at what we found in that old trunk!

Farming: Was farming a man's work only?You have been asked to assist the curator at the History Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The curator is collecting information about early farming practices. Your job is to research information found in Beulah Usher's trunk and report your discoveries.

Step 1 - Explore the childhood of Beulah Usher

To begin, read the biographical information about Beulah Usher, a girl who grew up on a farm near Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Step 2 - Brainstorming questions

Here are a few questions to help you get a picture of life as a child living on a farm in the early 1900's.

  • What did Beulah Usher enjoy doing as a child?
  • Why do you think she enjoyed those activities?
  • What were some of the ways that Beulah helped on her parents' farm?
  • How was Beulah's school different from your school?

Add two or three of your questions to this list, and uncover the answers in the biographical information.

Step 3 - Develop a historical comparison chart

Your next challenge as assistant curator is to compare three phases of Iowa agriculture:

  • Pioneer farming in 1850
  • The horse farm of the early 1900s
  • Farming today

First, make a chart like the one below. Divide your chart into three columns to show how work was done on the pioneer farm in 1850 and how it was done on the horse-powered farm of 1900 and how it is done today.

Farming Yesterday and Today

1850… Pioneer Farms


1900… Horse-powered Farms


TODAY… Modern Farms


In each column, describe how farmers plowed, planted, and harvested crops and the kind of equipment they used.
  1. Fill in the first column with info from these two timelines created by the US Department of Agriculture.
    Life on the Farm
    Farm Machines and Technology
    and by reading the books and websites in the Media Center.

  2. Next, complete the middle column of the chart by reading Early 20th Century Farming Practices and reviewing the photos in the documents file and websites in the Media Center.

  3. Complete the last column by researching today's farms as you explore the excellent books and websites in the Media Center.

Step 5 - Summarize your findings

What do you think were the most important characteristics of each phase? Prepare to share your findings with the curator by writing three paragraphs, one for each phase.


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