March 24, 2020
Kenyon is suspending its residential program and transitioning to remote instruction. Read more about Kenyon's response to COVID-19.
The Rural Life Center addresses a broad array of topics by means of public projects, events and scholarship. Exhibits, radio series, films, print publications and public conversations consider topics including agricultural practices, rural diversity, public spaces and foodways. Academic research and creative works reflect the diversity of student and faculty interests — auctions, sustainable agriculture, gravestone symbolism, water quality, old-time fiddling and land-use patterns, to name only a few.
This community development project seeks to build a sustainable local market for foods produced in and around Knox County. Working collaboratively with farmers, businesses, and a variety of community organizations, the project is conducting a county-wide food assessment, establishing a local food warehouse and community kitchen, providing small grants to farmers for new product development, and developing marketing materials and public presentations to educate us all about food, farming, and rural life. View the Food for Thought website.
This nine-cube tabletop exhibit explores the implications of our food choices for us as individuals and for our community. Each cube explores a different implication of our food choices-- for nutrition, health, food production, economics, politics, and the environment. Materials presented include discussion of a food product and biographies of people related to the local food system. Copies are currently on display in restaurants, libraries, school cafeterias, medical offices, and assisted living centers. View the What's for Dinner pdf.
This twenty-two-panel exhibit traces Knox County's food system from farm to table. Drawing on interviews and fieldwork with dozens of local residents, including farmers, food processors, truckers, restaurant owners, and consumers, the exhibit consists of photographs and text that provide a unique perspective on the food we eat and the character of rural communities. The exhibit debuted at Kenyon College in May 2006 and has been featured at the Knox County Fair and the Centerburg (Ohio) Oldtime Farming Festival. This exhibit is on permanent display at Malabar Farm State Park in Lucas, Ohio. "Where Does Our Food Come From?" is also the title of a seven-minute film that explores the many reasons for buying locally. View the Where Does Our Food Come From pdf.
This series features essays, biographical sketches, photographs, and recipes exploring food and community life in Knox County. Topics include gardening, hunting and trapping, food markets, the economics of food, new farmers, feeding the hungry, eating out, ritual food, cooking, canning and preserving, food and healing, and food choices. The series is based on extensive field research. Bound copies are available for $10 from the RLC.
This booklet is designed to bring together consumers and producers of food products in Knox County. The guide includes a complete listing of forty farm, farm markets, and businesses carrying local foodstuffs. Additional materials include maps, information on seasonal availability of products, and an essay on the history of agriculture in central Ohio. A web version also features recipes for foods in season and information on food preservation.
This web-based, interactive curricular unit explores family farming and community life. Designed for middle-school students, the materials and exercises were selected to develop skills required for Ohio's ninth-grade proficiency examination. The site is organized around six questions: What is family farming? How do farmers relate to their environment? Where does food come from? What is life like in a farm community? How has farming changed throughout history? What will shape farming in the future? The site also includes teacher resources. Award: Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums Outstanding Educational Project. View the Farm School website.
This web site explores family farming and community life in Knox County, Ohio, and was based on extensive field research. The site is organized around five themes: what is family farming, life on a family farm, farm economy, farm organizations and community life, and farming and the environment. The site also includes information on the Family Farm Project (1993-1996) and teaching materials used in coursework related to the project. Awards: Ohio Academy of History Public History Award, Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums Outstanding Multimedia Project, Education Index Top Site. View the Family Farm Project website.
This audiotape and booklet feature thirteen visits with central Ohio farm families. The audio programs originally were presented nationally as a series of five-minute radio broadcasts. Topics include historical changes in family farming, agricultural technology, women's roles, farm aesthetics, organic farming, and spirituality. The booklet presents an essay on the history of family farming in central Ohio, photographs, and biographical information on each of the families in the series. Copies are available for $15 from the RLC. Awards: American Farm Bureau Federation Community Award, Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums Outstanding Audiovisual Project.
This annual three-day institute provides intensive training in the planning and implementation of public oral history projects. The curriculum includes sessions on conceptualizing projects, the ethics of public research, framing interview questions, interview techniques, transcribing, archiving, and the use of technology. Sessions are taught by oral historians representing a variety of fields with extensive experience in public oral history projects. Cosponsored by the Ohio Humanities Council, the institute draws local historians, librarians, teachers, and other community groups from across the country. View the Oral History Institute website.
Knox County, Ohio has been home to Black residents from the earliest days of settlement of the region by non-indigenous persons. As a consequence of their small numbers, the history of Black folks of the area was largely over-looked, if not outright ignored, by the mainstream press, academicians, and local historians. Although living and working closely with their White neighbors, the Black community, forced by custom and convention and inspired by other "colored" people living in communities both large and small, built parallel, albeit segregated, institutions to meet their social, economic, and spiritual needs. View the Knox County Black History Project website.
This oral history project and exhibit pays tribute to two outstanding African-American folk artists with roots in Mount Vernon, Ohio: Walter O. Mayo (1878-1970) and his son, Walter L. “Bud” Mayo (1908-2000). Kenyon students Margaret Tazewell (’03) and Jessica Philips (’04) conducted interviews with family and community members, traced and documented artworks in the community, and mounted an exhibit and public conversation at Kenyon’s Olin Gallery in January 2002.
This fieldwork project documents the rich folk music traditions to be found in Knox County. Kenyon student Todd Juengling (’01) conducted interviews and field recordings at church services, barn jams, square dances, and in homes. The compact disc recording and accompanying booklet resulting from his work explores this diverse music and its importance to community life.
This web site explores ideas about holistic health care and its place in Knox County. Kenyon Student Jessica Carney ('01) conducted interviews with alternative practitioners, allopathic practitioners, health officials, and people for whom holistic health care is a way of life. What draws patients to alternative practitioners? How do alternative practitioners and the biomedical community view one another and interact?
This tour guide of sites along Knox County's Kokosing River explores our relationship to nature and rural community identity. The guide includes thirteen five-minute audio programs featuring excerpts of interviews with residents about the sites and a forty-page booklet with photographs and additional historical materials. Topics include village and town history, Amish community, agriculture, floods, recreation, immigration, the economy, geological history, wildlife, greenspace preservation, and urban sprawl. Copies are available beginning May 2000 for $12 from the Rural Life Center. This project received the Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums Educational Excellence Award.
This three-week summer field school at Kenyon College provided training in fieldwork methods, archiving, and planning public projects. Cosponsored by the RLC and the American Folklife Center, and the Library of Congress, the school combined intensive classroom instruction and field research as part of an ongoing research project on life along the Kokosing, recently designated as an Ohio Scenic River. Participants included graduate students in folklore, rural sociology, anthropology, and American studies as well as librarians, museum personnel, and local historians. More about Documenting Local Culture.
This web site explores rural diversity through a series of essays about minority communities, based on extensive interviews and historical research. Essays explore African American, Amish, Belgian, Catholic, gay and lesbian, Irish, Jewish, Latino, Mormon, and Native American Life, as well as women on public assistance and the relationship between diversity and ideas about community. Visit the Living Together website.
This free-standing museum-style exhibit explores two centuries of rural African American life through photographs, interviews with Black residents, and other historical materials. Themes include family life, work, religion, social life, and migration. The exhibit is on permanent display in Knox County Historical Society Museum, located in nearby Mt. Vernon (call 740-393-5247 for hours of operation). This exhibit received The American Association of State and Local History Award, as well as The Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums Outstanding Audiovisual Project Award. More about The Community Within.
The Place to Be is a thirty-panel exhibit exploring public spaces and celebrating public life in Knox County, Ohio. Among the sites featured are The Alcove, County Fair, First Congressional Church, Friday Night Football, The Grange, Kokosing Gap Trail, Local Bar, Owl Creek Auction, The Post Office, Public Library, Public Square, WMVO, and Woodward Opera House. View the Place to Be exhibit.
Charlotte Woolf's documentary work, Women and Agriculture in Knox County, Ohio, is a photographic exploration of the lives and essences of nine female agrarians in central Ohio. View the Women and Farming photo documentary.
Rural by Design encourages entrepreneurial innovation, the expansion of public spaces, and multicultural understanding in order to enhance community sustainability at home and abroad. View the Rural by Design website.
Visits offers a series of conversations with area residents exploring the character of rural life. These events, which attract a broad audience from the college and surrounding communities, stimulate lively and informative discussion. Video recordings of Visits sessions are maintained at Kenyon College's Olin Library (phone 740-427-5694 for additional information). View the Visits webpage.
The county seat of Mount Vernon, like rural towns nationwide, is facing an important transition. Forces including the expansion of metropolitan Columbus and the growing influence of national retail chains stimulate dramatic changes in community land use, economic development, and social life. Kenyon students Teddy Symes ('05) and Logan Winston ('04) interviewed the town's businesspeople, planners, and citizens to produce a documentary film on Mount Vernon's past, present, and future. The film is available through the Rural Life Center.