The Commission on Country Life established by Theodore Roosevelt submitted its report in January 1909. Its vision of a country life that could be as economically viable and genuinely fulfilling as an urban alternative is still relevant. In fact, as twenty-first-century rural communities seek to foster democratic participation while dealing with issues of agricultural sustainability and ecological realities, the commission's recommendations have an almost prophetic cogency. Yet the continuing value of the report does not mean its limitations should go unexamined. This paper reviews the commission's findings and recommendations to argue that its gender assumptions had specific outcomes for rural women. On the one hand, they influenced the gendered structure of the nationalized farm extension program established in 1914. On the other, they provoked a reaction that was a catalyst for rural women to enter directly into an ongoing debate about their roles and circumstances.

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