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.