Guide to the Five Farms: Stories From American Farm Families Photographs and Oral Histories, 2008-2009
The Center for Documentary Studies is a center at Duke University established for the study of the documentary process. The color photographs and oral histories in the Five Farms: Stories From American Farm Families collection form part of a multimedia project carried out under the auspices of the Center for Documentary Studies. Beginning in March 2008, photographers Alix Lowrey Blair, Andrew Lewis, Tom Rankin, Elena Rue, and Steve Schapiro, along with audio specialists Ben Adler, Rob Dillard, Camille Lacapa, Susannah Lee, and John Biewen, each visited an American farm and documented the farm families' experiences over the course of a year. The locations for the Five Farms series are: a family farm on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona; an organic farm in California's Capay Valley; a dairy farm in western Massachusetts; a diversified farm in central Iowa; and an African American-owned hog farm in eastern North Carolina. Details on each farm are found in the series descriptions in this collection guide. Acquired by the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- Five Farms: Stories From American Farm Families photographs and oral histories
- 1.0 Linear Feet, 2 boxes; 50 color photographic prints; 940 electronic files (54.6 megabytes), 50 prints; 940 electronic files
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
The color photographs and oral histories in the Five Farms: Stories From American Farm Families collection form part of a multimedia project carried out under the auspices of the Center for Documentary Studies. Beginning in March 2008, photographers Alix Lowrey Blair, Andrew Lewis, Tom Rankin, Elena Rue, and Steve Schapiro, along with audio specialists Ben Adler, Rob Dillard, Camille Lacapa, Susannah Lee, and John Biewen, each visited an American farm and documented the farm families' experiences over the course of a year. The locations for the Five Farms series are: a family farm on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona; an organic farm in California's Capay Valley; a dairy farm in western Massachusetts; a diversified farm in central Iowa; and an African American-owned hog farm in eastern North Carolina. Details on each farm are found in the series descriptions in this collection guide.
The photographs in the collection, chosen for the 2009 project exhibit, portray farmers and family members, farm workers, farm animals, and landscapes. The first set of 25 13x16-inch color digital prints, five from each photographer, is accompanied by a second set of 25 prints of the same images, but in varying sizes ranging from 12 1/8 x 17 inches to 13 3/8 x 20 inches. All prints are arranged and foldered by geographical location. The photographer's names are written on the back of all the prints, and the captions are also included on the backs of the prints in the first set.
The oral history interviews and short sound files, over 100 hours of recordings, provide many details on the lives of the families, typical activities on each farm, the local culture and natural environments, and thoughts of individuals on the past, present, and the future. Also included are digital files containing ambient sounds, theme music, and credits, all used in a five-part Public Media radio program broadcast in July 2009. Although most of the files are currently stored in .wav format, there are also a handfule of mp3 files.
The Five Farms project culminated in an exhibit from April 27-August 21, 2009 at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies; other outreach included a multimedia website and programs on public radio stations nationwide.
Acquired by the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research. However, materials can only be used for educational, non-commercial purposes. Individual photographers retain all copyrights.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use. Use of digital files may require additional time; please contact the library in advance.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Five Farms: Stories From American Farm Families photographs and oral histories, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Contains the work of five photographers whose images explore the unique environment, context, and people associated with five small family farms in Arizona, California, Iowa, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Arranged by state, each body of work consists of one set of five 13x16" color digital prints printed on Epson Professional paper, and another set of prints in various sizes, for a total of 50 prints. Captions supplied by photographers; descriptive narratives supplied by Center for Documentary Studies exhibit staff.
Photographs by Andrew Lewis. The Pecusa family is Hopi and Pima from the village of Bacavi on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. Their immediate family has been farming in the area for at least four generations. Before them, ancestral people farmed their land intermittently for nearly a thousand years. The Pecusa family farms in a largely traditional manner, using little farm machinery and employing ancient dry land farming practices that allow them to grow corn in an arid environment that receives only eight to twelve inches of rain per year.
When not farming, Davis Pecusa also serves on the Hopi Tribal Council. The Hopi Tribe recognized Davis recently as "Farmer of the Year." His son, David, has studied under him for as long as he can remember and recently has begun to study western organic and permaculture farming practices. He also has a strong interest in the growing and preservation of heirloom native seeds from the Southwest. David will soon be leaving his job as kitchen manager at Hotevilla Bacavi Day School so that he can pursue his farming interest full-time. His dream is to teach and introduce younger generations to farming and sustainable living practices.
Photographs by Alix Lowrey Blair. Jeff and Annie Main own Good Humus Produce, which they run with their three children, Zachary, Alison, and Claire, and a small crew of employees. The Mains started their twenty-acre, certified organic farm in 1976, shortly after their graduation from the University of California at Davis. On their farm, located in the rural hills of Hungry Hollow, near Capay, California (about an hour northwest of Sacramento), they grow about sixty different fruits and vegetables, as well as herbs and flowers. They deliver to farmers' markets, to area subscribers through a program known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and to wholesalers in the Bay Area.
Photographs by Elena Rue. Craig and LaVon Griffieon operate a diversified, 1,100-acre farm with beef, chickens, turkeys, pigs, sheep, and horses in Ankeny, Iowa, north of Des Moines. Their farm has been in the Griffieon family since 1868. Craig and Lavon raise corn, soybeans, oats, and alfalfa. Their Limousin beef herd comes from stock that has been on their farm since 1960. Their children-Autumn, Nick, Phillip, and Julia-are the sixth Griffieon generation to farm there. The Griffieon children are active in all phases of the farm, and have themselves raised pastured poultry for ten years.
Photographs by Steve Schapiro. The Hager Brothers Farm is set on more than 700 acres of rugged, hilly terrain in Colrain, Massachusetts. Chip and Sherry Hager run the farm, along with daughter Kim and son-in-law Aaron, and another son, Todd. Both Kim and Aaron - college graduates with degrees in agriculture - bring to their passion for farming a new understanding of the science of dairy herd management. The family continually merges traditional and innovative approaches to dairy farming.
Photographs by Tom Rankin. Eddie and Dorothy Wise raise hogs on 106 acres near Whitakers, in east-central North Carolina. Eddie is a fourth-generation hog farmer but the first to own a farm; his father and grandfather were sharecroppers. During a career in the military, and as an ROTC instructor at Howard and Georgetown Universities, Eddie raised hogs in his spare time. It was his dream to return home to North Carolina and farm full-time. When he retired from the Army in 1991 at the age of forty-eight, that's what he set out to do. Dorothy Wise grew up in Washington, D.C., but she too hoped to one day live on a farm. When she and Eddie met at Howard University in the 1980s and she discovered he was a farmer, it seemed that her wish had come true.
Located here is a duplicate set of color digital prints in various sizes, with the great majority measuring approximately 13.50 x 17.50 or 19 inches, with small variations. The North Carolina prints by photographer Tom Rankin all measure approximately 13 x 13.25 inches, also with small variations. Images are arranged and foldered by location.
These digital sound files form part of the Five Farms documentary project and total over 100 hours of recordings. They capture the thoughts, experiences, and narratives of the five families, as well as the ambient sounds and environments of their farms and other locations such as a farmer's market. Other sound files include theme music composed by Wesley Horner, and closing credits for the 2009 Public Media radio broadcast.
Please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use these materials.
Electronic records in this series have been migrated to a library server and digital use copies can only be accessed onsite in the Rubenstein Library Reading Room. To request access, please contact Research Services before coming to use these records.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
- Blair, Alix Lowrey
- Duke University. Center for Documentary Studies
- Duke University. Center for Documentary Studies
- Lewis, Andrew
- Rue, Elena
- Rankin, Tom
- Schapiro, Steve
- Agriculture -- United States -- 21st century -- Pictorial works
- Dairy farmers -- Massachusetts -- Pictorial works
- Documentary Photography -- United States
- Farmers -- North Carolina -- Pictorial works
- Family farms -- United States -- Pictorial works
- Farms -- North Carolina -- Pictorial works
- Farms -- Massachusetts -- Pictorial works
- Farms -- Iowa -- Pictorial works
- Farms -- Hopi Indian Reservation (Arizona) -- Pictorial works
- Farms -- California -- Pictorial works
- Organic farmers -- California -- Pictorial works
- Photography of farms -- United States
The Five Farms: Stories From American Farm Families photographs and oral histories were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2011, 2012, and 2015.
Processed by Matthew Warren, February 2013
Encoded by Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, Matthew Warren, February 2013
Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2011-0130; 2012-0089; 2015-0008.