Top of page

Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Dairy Farm Workers in New York's North Country

In 2012, folklorist Hannah Harvester, director of Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY), received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center to document the occupational folklife of dairy farmers and farm workers in New York State’s North Country. Harvester and her colleagues recorded oral histories with local dairy farm owners, farm workers, agricultural agents, and others involved in the local dairy economy – including a banker involved in farm loans. New York’s North Country, a seven-county region which lies along the state's northern border with Canada and is framed by Lake Champlain to the east and the Adirondack Mountains to the south, has a unique history and distinctive culture. Multi-generational farm owners, migrant workers, recent immigrants, agricultural agents and researchers, and local businesspeople are among those whose occupation-related stories and experiences were recorded. In addition to occupational biographies, the project also documents the rigorous daily routines involved in dairy farming; family histories, traditions and practices associated with dairy farming; the changing relationship of dairy farm owners and farm workers; the growing awareness of ecology and sustainable agriculture; the need to develop and market new products, especially organic and environmentally friendly products; and the impact of automation, technology, and government regulations. The project was initiated by folklorist Hannah Harvester and completed by folklorist Jill Breit, who assumed the directorship of TAUNY during the course of the research. Folklorist Dr. Varick Chittenden, a noted expert on New York’s North Country, was also involved and conducted numerous interviews.

Go to Dairy Farm Workers in New York's North Country collection items