Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thursday May 26th at 7 pm ~ Steve Taylor on the NH Grange Movement

New Hampshire’s Grange Movement: Its Rise, Triumphs and Decline

Much of rural New Hampshire in the late 19th century was locked in a downward spiral of population decline, abandonment of farms, reversion of cleared land to forest and shrinking of villages, all of which contributed to widespread feelings of melancholy and loss among its residents. The development of the Grange movement in the state in the 1880s and 1890s was aided greatly by people’s hunger for a new vehicle to draw communities together for social interaction, entertainment and mutual support. As the Grange rapidly established chapters throughout the state its influence in public affairs expanded greatly as well, such that by 1910 it had become a major force in policymaking in Concord, while many of its members had risen to important leadership positions, including that of governor. The Grange brought an agenda that aligned closely with the Progressive wave that swept New Hampshire politics in the early 20th century and many of the initiatives it advocated became law, placing the state at the leading edge in a number of areas of reform. This lecture will address the rise, the triumphs and the eventual decline of the Grange movement in New Hampshire. Steve Taylor is an independent scholar, farmer, journalist and longtime public official. Taylor operates a dairy and maple farm in Meriden Village, New Hampshire and served a quarter century as NH's Commissioner of Agriculture. He has been a newspaper reporter and editor. He was also the first Executive Director of the NH Humanities Council and is a lifelong student the state's rural culture. This program is co-sponsored by the Hancock Historical Society and is made possible by a grant from the NH Humanities Council. Free and open to the public.

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