Carrie Meyer’s paper “The Farm Debut of the Gasoline Engine,” was the lead article in Agricultural History, summer, 2013. Automobile history scholars have long recognized that farmers’ familiarity with gasoline engines contributed mightily to the successful introduction of Henry Ford’s Model T in 1908. Yet the use of such engines on the farm has received scant attention. Today most people believe that tractors brought the internal combustion engine to the farm – in the 1920s or 1930s. Indeed Deborah Fitzgerald’s much admired Every Farm a Factory (2003) claimed that, “for most farmers, the tractor was their first brush with the internal combustion engine.” Meyer’s paper attempts to rectify this misconception with some careful analysis of census data, farm journals, and USDA reports from the early 1900s.
September 05, 2013