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The “Country Life Movement” and the American Churches

  • Merwin Swanson (a1)

The progressive movement in the United States was a complex set of reforms during the first decades of the twentieth century. Progressives like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson focused on the control of the new economic forces in American society by regulating railroad rates or by breaking up large monopolies. Slums, political corruption, and red-light districts troubled the consciences of other progressives such as Jane Addams and Walter Rauschenbusch. These urban progressives believed that an older, rural America produced a sense of community among rural people which mitigated such social problems, and thought that community-oriented settlement houses and churches in the cities could recreate the rural feeling that individuals were a part of their neighborhoods, and urban neighbors then could attack urban problems as a community. Other progressives, such as the anti-vice committees of New York City, wanted laws to recreate the moral standards which social pressures in the old rural communities had maintained informally. The Progressive Era also included a “country life movement” which shared many of its analyses and plans for reform with the urban progressives, but applied them to rural America.

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Warren H. Wilson , “The Church and the Rural Community,” American Journal of Sociology 16 (1911): 668693;

John Robert Hargreaves , “The Rural Community and Church Federation,” American Journal of Sociology 20 (09, 1914): 447460.

J. H. Kolb , “A Rural Church Conference Program for Town and Country Clergyman,” Journal of Social Forces 1 (05, 1923): 437439.

Warren H. Wilson , “The Church and the Country Life Movement,” Journal of Social Forces 2 (1923): 2329.

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Church History
  • ISSN: 0009-6407
  • EISSN: 1755-2613
  • URL: /core/journals/church-history
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