Abstract

The field of agricultural history suffers from an anxiety about its own death. In three sessions of cognitive therapy, this article puts the scholarly subject and the society that flies its banner “on the couch” to diagnose and—ideally—help alleviate the condition. An examination of the past, present, and future of the society and the field reveals that this fear of death has been present from the beginning and has played a major role in shaping and reshaping its boundaries. The article argues that the fates of agricultural history and the Agricultural History Society are forever linked and that the society must continue to make the edges of its tent flexible, though not ever-expanding.

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NOTES

1. Raymond J. Corsini, ed., The Dictionary of Psychology (New York: Routledge, 2016), s.v. “Thanatophobia.”
2. Ronald M. Doctor and Ada P. Kahn, eds. The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears, and Anxieties (New York: Facts on File, 1989), s.v. “Death, Fear of,” 123–24.
3. Corsini, ed., The Dictionary of Psychology, s.v. “Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT).”
4. For a full accounting of the founding and the political and agricultural connections of its early members, see Arthur G. Peterson, “The Agricultural History Society’s First Quarter Century,” Agricultural History 19, no. 4 (Oct. 1945): 193–203; and Claire Strom, “Idiosyncratic Reflections on Ninety Years of Agricultural History, Written in Celebration of the Agricultural History Society’s One-Hundredth-Year Anniversary,” Agricultural History 93, no. 1 (Winter 2019): 139–72.
5. Agricultural History Society Constitution, 1919, in possession of author.
6. David B. Danbom, “Reflections: Whither Agricultural History,” Agricultural History 84, no. 2 (Spring 2010): 167.
7. R. Douglas Hurt, American Agriculture: A Brief History (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2002), 221–77.
8. Scott J. Peters and Paul A. Morgan, “The Country Life Commission: Reconsidering a Milestone in American Agricultural History,” Agricultural History 78, no. 3 (Summer 2004): 293.
9. L. G. Connor, “A Brief History of the Sheep Industry in the United States,” Agricultural History Society Papers 1 (1921): 89–197.
10. Everett E. Edwards, “Objectives for the Agricultural History Society during Its Second Twenty-Five Years,” Agricultural History 18, no. 4 (Oct. 1944): 187–92.
11. Ibid., 187.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid., 188–92, quotation from 191.
14. Clarence H. Danhof, “Whither Agricultural History?” Agricultural History 47, no. 1 (Jan. 1973): 1–8.
15. Ibid., 1–2.
16. Ibid., 3.
17. Ibid., 2 (emphasis mine).
18. Ibid., 4.
19. Ibid., 1.
20. Ibid., 7–8.
21. Agricultural History Society List of Officers, in possession of author; list of award winners, Agricultural History Society, http://www.aghistorysociety.org/society/awards/past/ (Accessed Sept. 5, 2018); Danbom, “Reflections: Whither Agricultural History,” 167.
22. Danbom, “Reflections: Whither Agricultural History,” 166–75.
23. Ibid., 168.
24. Ibid., 169.
25. Ibid., 170–71.
26. Ibid., 173.
27. Danbom proposal to the Agricultural History Society Executive Committee, April 10, 2017, in possession of the author.
28. Minutes of the AHS Executive Committee, June 7, 2017, in possession of author; email message, author to David Danbom, June 13, 2017, in possession of author.
29. James C. Giesen to Committee, application letter for executive secretary position, n.d. [spring 2010], in possession of author.
30. Agricultural History Society Annual Meeting Program, 2007, http://www.aghistorysociety.org/meetings/past/ and in possession of author; Alan Mark Mikhail, “The Nature of Ottoman Egypt: Irrigation, Environment, and Bureaucracy in the Long Eighteenth Century” (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2008); Alan Mikhail, email message to author, Jan. 31, 2018.
31. Everett E. Edwards, “Objectives for the Agricultural History Society,” 192.
32. G. Stanley Hall, “Thanatophobia and Immortality,” The American Journal of Psychology 26, no. 4 (Oct. 1915): 550.