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Six Generations Here: A Farm Family Remembers
by Marjorie L. McLellan, with an essay by Kathleen Neils Conzen and a foreword by Dan Freas
Discover the story of the Krueger family, as images of farm, family, and landscape reveal the struggles of rural immigrant life in Wisconsin. Drawing on snapshots, memorabilia, and interviews, Six Generations Here brings together the voices of the past and the present to create a distinctive portrait of Wisconsin farm life.
Leaving their German home in 1851, the Kruegers came to America for economic opportunity. But like other immigrant families, they struggled to make ends meet. Only with the whole family helping out did they manage to get their Watertown farm up and running. By the turn of the century, they had achieved a life of middle-class comfort in the midst of the rigors of dairy farming. Over the generations, the Kruegers incorporated their past traditions with the needs of the present, adapting to the challenges of rural American life and, when necessary, breaking from the past. Despite these changes, their commitment to hard work and family persisted, shaped their identity, and ensured their success.
Through photographs, documents, and family stories, the Kruegers left a deep history of who they were and how they sought to be remembered. Follow their family through six generations as they compile a rich and varied record of Wisconsin life.
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Across the first half of this century, Wisconsin dairy farmer Alex Krueger turned the camera's lens on his farm, his children, the rural environs, and the networks of kin that framed all their lives. Later, other members of the Krueger clan took up the camera. Their photographs and family stories comprise a unique record not only of who the Kruegers were but also of how they sought to be remembered. As Pomeranian immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century, the Kruegers struggled to get by while accumulating the capital to purchase a substantial farm. By the turn of the century they had achieved a life of middle-class comfort in the midst of the rigorous demands of dairy farming. Over the generations, they reshaped customs and language, traditions and aspirations to meet the needs of the present. When necessary, they broke with the past by changing churches and, in order to sustain the family enterprise, by embracing scientific farming, government extension programs, marketing coops, and political activism. The trappings of success, as well as the tensions and the human cost of choices made and opportunities lost, are manifest in these images of farm, family, and landscape. The Kruegers were unusual in that they remained in place, on the land, for more than a century, compiling this rich and varied record of one family's evolution.About the Author:
Marjorie L. McLellan is associate professor of History and American Studies at Miami University, Middletown, Ohio. With George A. Talbot and the staff of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, she researched and produced the NEH-funded exhibit "Six Generations Here . . . A Family Remembers" (1982).
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