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January 20, 2022

42 Portraits of Rural Americans From the Mid-19th Century

The United States began as a largely rural nation, with most people living on farms or in small towns and villages. While the rural population continued to grow in the late 1800s, the urban population was growing much more rapidly. Still, a majority of Americans lived in rural areas in 1900.

Rural Americans in the 1840s and 1850s

New machines for use in farming were invented in this period, but horses, oxen, and people still provided most of the power that operated the machinery. While farmers now produced cash crops (crops grown for sale), they were still remarkably self-sufficient, often making or trading for nearly everything required by their own families.

Here below is a set of amazing photos from Mitch Young that shows portraits of rural Americans in the 1840s and 1850s.

A little girl with crossed eyes

A woman posed by a vase of flowers

A baby girl

A country boy wearing a great hat

A darling little girl in a tinted off shoulder dress and red coral necklace

A little boy in a straw hat

A little girl holding a very large doll

A little girl in a pink dress holding a doll. Back of image has photographer card from C.B. Lawry, Farmington, Maine

A mother and her daughter

A pale young lady with dark circles under her eyes

A pretty girl holding her fan

A pretty little girl in her pink bonnet

A sweet little girl holding her doll

A sweet looking senior lady wearing a bonnet

A young rural girl standing by a big book

A young school girl posed with her book

All in the family

An interesting looking lady

Cute little girl most likely sitting on mom's lap (hidden under blanket) while playing with her mother's purse

Ella Wallace and her doll

Family photo with little girl leaning on her dad

Farm family

Girl in pink by chase

Kid with a doll

Kids day out

Little girl standing in a corner

Mom and her two girls in matching dresses including the doll

New blue dress

On the back: “Charlie and Abby White 1846”

Reverend C T Douglas holding his son Travis on his lap

Sad beauty

Seven seamstresses. Most of them are showing or holding their scissors

Sisters in matching dresses with book and doll

Sisters with doll

Twins with twin dolls

Two lovely young ladies in matching dresses

Two rural American children. Home made dresses and haircuts. Their hands appear dirty but are actually tan lines from working outside

Two rural Americans in a great pose

Two sisters in matching dressing shared the love

Two sisters

Two young ladies

Young boy posed by a hat


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