Welcome to the Rural Lit R.A.L.L.Y. Initiative

There is a saying:  “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”

Out of print for decades, and long-since discarded from all but research university libraries, wonderful works of rural based literature are disappearing every day.  Variously called “farm novels,” “regional novels,” or “local color fiction,” these works portray farm life, and just as importantly, American life, perceptively and in great depth.  Written before the age of digitization, these works are being lost before they can be saved.  To lose them is to lose a piece of our collective history; a piece of who we are, as a people and as a nation.

The Rural Lit RALLY Initiative, from its inception as a tangible effort in April 2011, has worked hard to renew interest in this important part of our nation’s memory.

We have established the Rural Lit Library, which currently holds over 100 volumes of these rare manuscripts.  We have established collaborative efforts with similar organizations, such as the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association, Bess Streeter Aldrich Foundation, Mari Sandoz Heritage Society, and the Norwegian American Historical Association.  We have partnered with the Redmond Historical Society, Redmond Library, and Buena Vista University to hold exhibits dedicated to spreading hte word about our homegrown rural authors and their works.

We have teamed up with those who are also reading and writing about this almost-lost literature, such as Nancy Gluck and James Rosenzweig, as well as those currently working and writing in related genres, such as Page Lambert and Linda Hasselstrom.

We have been able to get young adults reading and writing about rural literature through a grant funded program; Ann Milliken heads the Emerson Group, and Ryan Berg heads the St. Mary’s Catholic Group.  They will combine to have read 4 books in the 2012-13 academic year.  We are always looking for new reading groups – please contact us if you are interested.

We are pleased with the results of our efforts to date, but realize that much more work needs to be done!  Now a joint venture of Buena Vista University and Buffalo State, Rural Lit RALLY looks forward to having a greater reach across the country in order to get our message out.

We ask YOUR help, as someone with an interest in preserving Americana in the written word.  Whether you are a reader, a writer, or an educator, please share with us any ideas that you may have for restoring these works to our collective memory and use.

10 Comments

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10 Responses to Welcome to the Rural Lit R.A.L.L.Y. Initiative

  1. Jim Spindler

    HI,
    I heard an NPR interview—last summer I think—and was quite intrigued (being a former farm boy and now literary nut who loves regional lit). Did I hear correctly, in the interview, that this collection could be viewed in Storm Lake, Iowa (not far from where I live)?
    Thanks so much.
    Jim Spindler

    • admin

      Hi, Jim.

      If you are referring to our collection of books – the Rural Lit Library – that is currently housed with me in Buffalo, NY. There are photos, and a list of our holdings, on the library page on the website.

      We are doing periodic exhibits in the library on Buena Vista University’s Storm Lake campus; currently on view is a display on Paul Corey and Ruth Lechlitner Corey; in the next few weeks, that will be changed out for an exhibit on Martha Ostenso. I am currently in discussions with Hawkeye Community College to do a more general exhibit of rural authors/works there as well.

      We are always looking for new people who want to get involved and participate in our activities. If there is some way in which you would like to join us, please let me know and we will find something of interest to you.

      Cynthia

      • Maureen Theobald

        Hello, RLR friends……….sorry I’ve been such a stranger. I don’t have time to write reviews, but I do try to read about one book a month. I’m on cloud nine with my recent discovery of an Indiana based author, Gene Stratton Porter. She has become my new idol, and oddly enough, I chanced upon one of her books by complete accident. She was a naturalist/author who lived and wrote about her life in the “Limberlost” area of northeast Indiana. I hope that you’ll be able to find time in the future to read and fall in love with her work as I have!! If you’re a nature lover, you’ll appreciate her books and enjoy learning about her life and how it inspired her work.

  2. James Knotwell

    Can’t wait for this to start. Hope it hasn’t already, though, I’ve already read the book…might have to reread it pretty soon.

    • admin

      Hi, Jim. No, the blog hasn’t started yet – it will, sometime after 9/27. I’ll be setting up the blog page soon, and will post an official start date as soon as I have it. Look forward to having you participate!

  3. Elizabeth H

    Do you have a list of rural literature? I’ve been trying to find information about this genre but am having limited success.

    • admin

      Hi, Elizabeth. I don’t have a comprehensive list of rural literature, but if you check our RLR Library page, which I have just reposted, you may find some help. On that page, you will find an excel database of the authors that we have identified as rural-based, as well as works of theirs that we could identify. In addition, you’ll be able to view color photos of all of the books that we have in our library. If there is something in particular you are trying to find, we will try to help, or perhaps direct you to one of our partner organizations.

  4. Elizabeth H

    Thanks so much!

  5. Diane S.

    Some of us live in the past. Your Authors Database is in the newest version of Excel. Could you put it in a format for everyone?

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