A Prairie Populist: The Memoirs of Luna Kellie

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Late-19th-century Nebraska was a harsh place, and Kellie's memoirs--originally written on the backs of Nebraska Farmers' Alliance certificates--recall the hardships of the homesteading period and the populist political passions that emerged. In his foreword, Stone notes that the book ``exemplifies and extends a feminist rural history'' that shows women as important participants in society. Kellie's style is direct and honest. Lured to Nebraska by railroad advertising, her family dug an isolated sod house; in the dark, with owls hooting and coyotes howling, ``it seemed like the end of the world.'' Her narrative includes the arrival of her husband, the building of a new homestead and the death of a baby. More interesting is Kellie's political awakening, which quickened after she and her husband blamed the railroads for the loss of their house. Kellie became active in the Nebraska Farmers' Alliance and penned a noted manifesto, ``Stand Up for Nebraska.'' A separate political memoir concludes bleakly: ``I feel that nothing is likely to be done to benefit the farming class in my lifetime.'' Nelsen, who wrote her undergraduate honors thesis on Kellie, adds context to Kellie's life and times in a useful afterword. (May)
Library Journal
This memoir, written in 1925, chronicles the author's late 19th-century homesteading experiences in Nebraska and her move to activism in the Farmers Alliance and the Populist Party. Despairing over the loss of two children and their homestead, Kellie and her husband concluded that economic hardship on the prairie was caused by ``corporate monopolies'' like the railroad companies, by land taxes, and by unforgiving banks too quick to foreclose. She became secretary of the Farmers Alliance and printer of a moderate reform newspaper, the Prairie Home . Her account of her populist activities reminds readers of women's crucial contributions to the farm reform movement. Although editor Nelson (Univ. of Wisconsin) has not provided much commentary, scholars will find the source material of some interest, while general readers will enjoy the engaging style of a remarkable woman.-- Jenny Presnell, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780877453697
  • Publisher: University of Iowa Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1992
  • Series: Singular Lives Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 209
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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