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During the first half of the twentieth century, deep structural changes occurred in the South African countryside. While farming became an important pillar of the national economy, more and more people left the land in search of better lives in towns and cities. This article examines agricultural education, an early avenue of state intervention in farming, to elucidate how officials and groups of farmers navigated the ‘agrarian question’ by trying to define the roles that men, women, blacks, and whites played in the sector's restructuring. I argue that agricultural planning was inextricable from ideologies and politics of segregation, a factor that historiography has not systematically taken into account. By comparing interventions in the Transkei and Ciskei with those in the Orange Free State, this article illuminates the interrelations between rural planning and segregation, as well as how they were complicated by delineations of class and gender.



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I wish to thank the International Research Center ‘Work and Human Life-Cycle in Global History’ (re:work) at Humboldt University Berlin, particularly Andreas Eckert and Felicitas Hentschke, for making this research possible and providing a stimulating context to discuss my ideas. Special thanks for Corinna Unger for her feedback on an earlier draft of this article. I am also grateful for the insightful comments I received from the three anonymous reviewers. Author’s email:



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1 A. Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country (London, 1966 [orig. pub. 1948]), 196.

2 For agricultural transitions as a global phenomenon, see H. Akram–Lodhi and C. Kay (eds.), Peasants and Globalization: Political Economy, Rural Transformation and the Agrarian Question (London, 2009).

3 In this article, ‘South Africa’ also refers to the period before the Union of South Africa was established in 1910.

4 B. Freund, ‘South Africa: the Union years, 1910–1948 – political and economic foundations’, in R. Ross, A. K. Mager, and B. Nasson (eds.), The Cambridge History of South Africa, 18851994, Volume II (Cambridge, 2011), 216–27; A. Jeeves and J. Crush, ‘Introduction’, in A. Jeeves and J. Crush (eds.), White Farms, Black Labour: The State and Agrarian Change in Southern Africa, 1910–50 (Portsmouth, 1997), 1–28.

5 P. Bonner, ‘South African society and culture, 1919–1948’, in Ross, Mager, and Nasson (eds.), Cambridge History, 286, 291.

6 Many English, Afrikaner, and African farmers who engaged in agricultural reform called themselves ‘progressive’, partly in reference to the progressive movement in the United States; see W. Beinart, The Rise of Conservation in South Africa: Settlers, Livestock, and the Environment 17701950 (Oxford, 2013), 19.

7 For example, C. Bundy, The Rise and Fall of the South African Peasantry (2nd edn, Oxford, 1988); T. Keegan, Rural Transformations in Industrializing South Africa: The Southern Highveld to 1914 (Basingstoke, 1987); W. Beinart and C. Bundy, Hidden Struggles in Rural South Africa: Politics and Popular Movements in the Transkei and Eastern Cape 1890–1930 (London, 1987); C. van Onselen, The Seed is Mine: The Life of Kas Maine, a South African Sharecropper, 1849–1985 (New York, 1996).

8 Beinart, Rise of Conservation; Beinart, W., ‘Soil erosion, conservationism and ideas about development: a Southern African exploration, 1900–1960’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 11:1 (1984), 5283; Khan, F., ‘Rewriting South Africa's conservation history: the role of the Native Farmers Association’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 20:4 (1994), 499516.

9 Compare A. Staples, The Birth of Development: How the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization, and World Health Organization Changed the World, 1945–1965 (Kent, 2006), 65–9.

10 W. Beinart and S. Dubow, ‘Introduction: the historiography of segregation and apartheid’, in W. Beinart and S. Dubow (eds.), Segregation and Apartheid in Twentieth-Century South Africa (London, 1995), 11.

11 The knowledge itself, transmitted and integrated into existing practices, is beyond the scope of this article.

12 I refer to knowledge generated by institutionalized research. Drawing on Latour, Jacobs differentiates scientific knowledge from other forms by networks and social organization; see Jacobs, N., ‘The intimate politics of ornithology in Colonial Africa’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 48:3 (2006), 566–7.

13 Keegan, T., ‘Crisis and catharsis in the development of capitalism in South African Agriculture’, African Affairs, 84:336 (1985); Jeeves and Crush, ‘Introduction’.

14 Bundy, Rise, 67.

15 W. Beinart, ‘Agrarian historiography and agrarian reconstruction’, in J. Lonsdale (ed.), South Africa in Question (London, 1988), 141–2; Simkins, C., ‘Agricultural production in the African reserves of South Africa, 1918–1969’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 7:2 (1981), 262; Beinart, W., ‘Transkeian smallholders and agrarian reform’, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 11:2 (1992), 178–9; McAllister, P., ‘Rural production, land use and development planning in Transkei: a critique of the Transkei Agricultural Development Study’, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 11:2 (1992), 202–3. Data and research concerning the Ciskei are patchier.

16 Beinart, W. and Delius, P., ‘The historical context and legacy of the Natives Land Act of 1913’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 40:4 (2014), 685.

17 Beinart, ‘Agrarian historiography’, 142–3.

18 For example of protest, see Cullen Library, University of the Witwatersrand (CUL) South African Institute of Race Relations records (AD) 843 B 10.12, John G. Gubbins to Rheinallt Jones, 20 Dec. 1928.

19 The council system was an institution of local government parallel to the superordinate magistrates. In 1931, the Transkei and Pondoland Councils were united to form the United Transkeian Territories General Council (UTTGC, ‘Bunga’), see I. Evans, Bureaucracy and Race: Native Administration in South Africa (Berkeley, 1997), 184–6.

20 A. Charman, ‘Progressive élites in Bunga politics: African farmers in the Transkeian territories, 1904–1946 (unpublished DPhil thesis, University of Cambridge, 1998), 5. These ‘progressive élites’ were usually mission-educated Africans upholding Victorian notions of social progress and assimilation (ibid. 1–2); regarding the ‘disproportionate voice of the rural elite within the council system’, see Evans, Bureaucracy, 186.

21 National Archives Repository, Pretoria (SAB) Native Affairs (NTS) 2417 74/287, ‘Report of the Ad Hoc Committee … to Consider the Future of the General Council Schools of Agriculture’, 1947; Cape Town Archives Repository (KAB) Principal of Fort Cox Agricultural College (AFC) 2 N8/3/2, vol. III, Minutes of the Fifth Conference of the SA Native Farmers' Congress, 18 Dec. 1930.

22 Beinart, Conservation, 258.

23 P. Germond, ‘Note on the development of the farm and agricultural courses at Fort Hare’, in A. Kerr (ed.), Fort Hare 1915–48: The Evolution of an African College (London, 1968), 265–6; Khan, ‘Rewriting’, 504–5.

24 C. Higgs, The Ghost of Equality: The Public Lives of D. D. T. Jabavu of South Africa, 1885–1959 (Athens, OH, 1997), 49–50; Khan, ‘Rewriting’, 506–9; SAB NTS 7292 18/327, Part II, D. D. T. Jabavu, Native Farmers' Association, to Minister, Native Affairs, 3 Dec. 1919.

25 KAB Chief Magistrate Transkei (CMT) 3/998 2/G, J. W. D. Hughes, General Council Agricultural Director, to Chief Magistrate Transkeian Territories, 26 Jan. 1927.

26 SAB NTS 7317 81/327, ‘Recommendations for Reorganisation of the System of Training at Fort Cox’, E. Wyatt Sampson, 8 Apr. 1937.

27 See SAB NTS 7514 662/327, ‘Review of Services and Activities of Fort Cox Agricultural School, 1939–40’; SAB NTS 9588 399/400, Newsletters Fort Cox, 1930s.

28 SAB NTS 2417 74/287, ‘Report of the Ad Hoc Committee Appointed … to Consider the Future of the General Council Schools of Agriculture’.

29 See examples in KAB CMT 3/848 593.I.1 and KAB CMT 3/848 593.I.2.

30 J. D. Rheinallt Jones and A. L. Saffery, Social and Economic Conditions of Native Life in the Union of South Africa: Findings of the Native Economic Commission, 1930–1932 (Johannesburg, 1935), 245.

31 See below.

32 SAB NTS 7340 133/327, Memo by [illegible] to Director, Native Agriculture, ‘Demonstration Plots’, 8 Apr. 1941; KAB AFC 5 N8/19/2, vol. I, Principal Fort Cox to Director, Native Agriculture, 9 July 1936.

33 SAB NTS 7334 123/327, R. W. D. Hughes, Director of Agriculture to Chief Magistrate, Umtata, 12 June 1931.

34 KAB CMT 3/849 593.5, Stanford, Chief Magistrate, memo/circular, 15 Dec. 1911.

35 Mthatha Provincial Archives (MTH), ‘Report on Agriculture and Stock, Director of Agriculture’, in UTTGC, Annual Reports, 1937.

36 Demonstration reports for instance in KAB CMT 3/847–50, KAB 1/KHK 6/12 K2/8(j), vols. 1–3; MTH 29/8/8; 29/8/8, Part II.

37 S. Dubow, Racial Segregation and the Origins of Apartheid in South Africa, 1919–39 (London, 1989), 11, 15; Evans, Bureaucracy, 164.

38 SAB NTS 2417 73/287, UTTGC, Annual Reports 1946, ‘Future of Council Schools of Agriculture’; CUL A881 Cc, H. Pim to Dr Keppel, ‘Transkei Economic Enquiry’, 29 May 1933; CUL AD 843 B 10.12, Rheinallt Jones to H. Mary White, 4 May 1944.

39 Dubow, Segregation, 6–8; Beinart and Dubow, ‘Introduction’, 11. For the ‘liberal flirtation with segregation’, see Dubow, Segregation, 8–9.

40 Khan, ‘Rewriting’, 507–8; KAB AFC 2 N8/3/2, Constitution of Native Farmers' Association of the Keiskama Valley, c. 1935; NTS 7292 18/327, Part II, ‘The native and agriculture’, The Star, 29 Dec. 1919.

41 KAB Chief Commissioner, Eastern Cape (CCK) 106 N8/1/4, Minutes of the third conference of the S. A. Native Farmers' Congress, 27 Dec. 1928.

42 KAB AFC 6 N8/19/4/8, vol. 2, E. S. Mohapeloa to Principal, Fort Cox, 31 May 1935.

43 SAB NTS 7345 152/327, ‘Fort Cox Native Agricultural School: annual prize distribution’, Cape Mercury, 8 June 1933.

44 SAB NTS 7345 152/327, ‘Fort Cox's Record Season’, IMVO, quoting Jabavu, 19 June 1934; also see D. D. T. Jabavu, The Black Problem (New York, 1920); Higgs, Equality, 23–8.

45 Beinart and Dubow, ‘Introduction’, 10.

46 SAB NTS 7345 152/327, ‘Fort Cox Native Agricultural School: annual prize distribution’, Cape Mercury, 8 June 1933.

47 By 1932, agricultural colleges reported receiving too many applications; see CUL A881 Hb 8, ‘A Transkei Enquiry’, H. Pim, 1933.

48 CUL AD 1947 25.4, ‘Is native agriculture doomed’, speech by Principal, Fort Cox, c. late 1940s.

49 CUL AD 1715 1.2, ‘Land and Agriculture’, Chapter for Hellmann's Race Relations Handbook, c. 1948.

50 SAB NTS 7317 81/327, memorandum by Director, Native Agriculture, 26 Aug. 1937. Students at the colleges had to have at least Standard VI.

51 SAB NTS 10134 1/419, Report on Tour of Orange Free State and Ciskeian Districts, Director, Native Agriculture, 1935.

52 MTH UTTGC, Proceedings and Reports of Select Committees at the Session of 1948.

53 SAB NTS 7345 152/327, Report, ‘Annual prize giving’, 18 June 1941, Fort Cox. See also ‘Fort Cox Agricultural School: a glorious day in grand surroundings’, Cape Mercury, 6 June 1935.

54 KAB 3/KAB 4/1/284 ZS/3/12, W. R. Norton, Principal, to Town Clerk, Kingwilliamstown, 12 Dec. 1938; see also SAB NTS 7317 81/327, Memorandum, ‘Report Fort Cox Curriculum’, Deputy Director, Native Agriculture, 13 July 1937.

55 Compare Bonner, ‘Society’, 278.

56 Dubow, Segregation, 13, 15; see also Evans, Bureaucracy, 167–76.

57 Beinart, Conservation, 339.

58 SAB NTS 7334 123/327, Native Commissioner, Lady Frere, to Apthorp, 11 June 1931; see also Beinart, Conservation, 340–4.

59 Compare KAB CMT 3/849 593.4, A. H. Stanford, Chief Magistrate Transkei, Umtata, to Resident Magistrate Butterworth, 27 July 1913; KAB CMT 3/848 593.I.2, Chief Demonstrator to Chief Magistrate, 10 Aug. 1922.

60 Compare KAB CMT 3/919 774.3, Acting as Chief Magistrate to Native Affairs Department (NAD), Pretoria, 10 Dec. 1919; KAB 3/KAB 4/1/284 ZS/3/12, W. R. Norton, Principal, to Town Clerk, Kingwilliamstown, 12 Dec. 1938. Beinart shows how official discourse about the state of the reserves became increasingly alarmist in the 1930s and 1940s; Beinart, ‘Soil erosion’, 61–3, 73.

61 Evans, Bureaucracy, 175–6. A different case was cotton production in German Togo, see Zimmerman, A., ‘A German Alabama in Africa: the Tuskegee expedition to German Togo and the transnational origins of West African cotton growers’, American Historical Review, 110 (2005), 1362–98.

62 Dubow, 1989, 15. A prominent link between reserve agriculture and labor supply was the Fox and Back report of 1938 commissioned by the Chamber of Mines (Beinart, Conservation, 355–6).

63 SAB NTS 7313 75/237, ‘The Agricultural Policy for Natives in the Union of South Africa’, Director of Native Agriculture, c. June 1929.

64 By the late 1930s, about 50 per cent of Transkeian men between the ages of 15 to 44 were away for migrant labor; in the Ciskei, the equivalent was even 70 per cent. See C. Walker, ‘Gender and the development of the migrant labour system c. 1850–1930: an overview’, in C. Walker (ed.), Women and Gender in Southern Africa to 1945 (Cape Town, 1990), 176. For quotation, see CUL AD 1715 1.2., Chapter for Hellman's Race Relations Handbook, 1949.

65 Compare McAllister, ‘Rural production’, 203–4.

66 See, for example, KAB CCK 114 N8/19/2, Women's short courses at Fort Cox, syllabus, 21–4 June 1937; KAB CCK 107 N8/3/2, vol. 1, Principal, Fort Hare, to T. W. C. Norton, 20 June 1927.

67 Zimmerman, ‘Alabama’, 1380–3, 1383.

68 Compare A. Drew, ‘Theory and practice of the agrarian question in South African socialism, 1928–60’, in H. Bernstein (ed.), The Agrarian Question in South Africa (London, 1996), 56; B. Bozzoli, ‘Marxism, feminism and South African studies’, in Beinart and Dubow (eds.), Segregation and Apartheid, 122–3.

69 In the late 1930s, roughly 70 per cent of Ciskeian and 50 per cent of Transkeian men aged between 15 and 44 years were migrant laborers; see A. Drew, ‘Theory’, 57.

70 SAB NTS 7304 59/327, Notes for Secretary for Native Affairs' Address to students, Fort Cox, c. Dec. 1938.

71 Rhodes House Library, Oxford (RHL) Anti-Slavery Society papers (MSS) Brit Emp S 22, G 597, ILO Governing Body, ‘Delegation to Union of South Africa, 1938–9’, confidential draft report, c. 10 May 1939.

72 For instance, see NTS 7539 742/327, Correspondence on women's short courses, 1940s; and KAB CCK 106 N8/3/2, Reports on agricultural shows, 1930s.

73 KAB N8/19/2, Principal, Fort Cox, to Chief Native Commissioner, 23 Aug. 1939.

74 Jeeves and Crush, ‘Introduction’, 5.

75 Keegan, T., ‘The dynamics of rural accumulation in South Africa: comparative and historical perspectives’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 28:4 (1986), 63.

76 Beinart, ‘Agrarian historiography’, 140.

77 Keegan, ‘Crisis and catharsis’, 395; Jeeves and Crush, ‘Introduction’, 9.

78 Jeeves and Crush, ‘Introduction’, 2.

79 Keegan, ‘Rural accumulation’, 631–2, 637.

80 This is an abridged account of a more complex process; see Keegan, ‘Crisis’; Keegan, Rural Transformations.

81 Free State Archives Repository, Bloemfontein (VAB) Orange River Colony (ORC) 147, OFS Director of Agriculture, First Annual Report, 1904–5, VAB ORC 147.

82 VAB ORC 147, OFS Director of Agriculture, First Annual Report, 1904–5.

83 Glen's opening was delayed due to financial stringency during the First World War; other colleges already existed at Elsenburg (1898), Grootfontein (1911), Potchefstroom (1909), and Cedara (1906); Dubow, Knowledge, 180.

84 SAB Head, Division Agricultural Education and Research (LON) 10 A27/2, Glen College prospectus, c. 1937. The first Faculties of Agriculture were established in 1917, at the later Universities of Stellenbosch and Pretoria respectively. Unlike the agricultural colleges, the faculties focused on basic research and operated autonomously, before they also came under the Department of Agriculture in 1940. See D. Joubert, ‘Agricultural research in South Africa: an historical overview’, in A. Brown (ed.), Scientific Endeavour in South Africa (Wynberg, 1977), 267–8.

85 SAB LON 10 A27/2, Glen College prospectus, c. 1937; SAB LDB 3514, R 4165, Glen College prospectus, 1939.

86 SAB LON 6 A16/1, ‘Vooruitgang van Glen. 2332 al daar Opgelei’, Volksblad, c. 11 Dec. 1947.

87 SAB LON 10 A27/1, Glen News, Oct. 1941.

88 VAB Regional Director Glen Complex (SLT) 1/19 A44/4, vol. I, Glen College, Annual Reports from 1928–32; Dreyer, J. A., ‘Fifty years of agriculture extension’, Golden Jubilee Glen College of Agriculture, special edition Farming in South Africa, 45:8 (1969), 7782.

89 The Agricultural Colleges' partial incorporation in the new division caused administrative quarrels; see Beinart, Conservation, 258–60.

90 SAB Agricultural Technical Services (LTD) 240 R 2278/1, Education and Extension Division, ‘Die Doel van Uitbreidingswerk’, c. 1928.

91 Dreyer, ‘Fifty years; Beinart, Conservation, 259.

92 SAB LTD 240 R 2278/1, Education and Extension Division, ‘Die Doel van Uitbreidingswerk’, c. 1928; SAB LON 6 A16/1, Reinecke, Principal, Glen College, to du Toit, 31 Mar. 1931.

93 Compare SAB LON 6 A16/1, Reinecke, Native Affairs, to Prof. Bosman, 13 Oct. 1934.

94 VAB SLT 1/1 – A13, Memorandum, Department of Agriculture, 24 Apr. 1930.

95 Beinart, ‘Soil erosion’, 59–61. Beinart sees a shift with the 1946 Soil Conservation Act that gave state actors greater power to intervene (ibid.).

96 S. Dubow, A Commonwealth of Knowledge: Science, Sensibility and White South Africa, 1820–2000 (Oxford, 2006), 8, 212.

97 Compare Keegan, Rural Transformations, 96–120.

98 Union Department of Agriculture, Handbook for Farmers in South Africa (Pretoria, 1929), 31.

99 Union Department of Agriculture, ‘Agricultural Education in South Africa’, Journal of the Royal African Society, 13:51 (1914), 289–90.

100 H. Moran, ‘An historical critical survey of agricultural education in the Transvaal (unpublished MA thesis, University of Pretoria, 1935), 1–4.

101 Dubow, Commonwealth, 8, 212. Relying on foreign expertise, the Free State had been issuing scholarships to Canada and the United States. See VAB DA 2 2026, Director of Agriculture, Bloemfontein, to Assistant Director, 25 Mar. 1908.

102 Correspondence between Principal, Glen College, and Agriculture Department in SAB LON 10 A28/1, 1939–45.

103 J. van Zyl, ‘A History of the Glen College of Agriculture and Institute’, private memoir of former Glen College professor, 2005, author's private copy.

104 SAB LON 10 A27/2, Glen College prospectus, c. 1937.

105 Keegan, ‘Rural accumulation’, 634.

106 Compare to Beinart, Conservation, 265.

107 SAB Secretary of Agriculture (LDB) 2079 R 2930, Department of Agriculture, ‘Memorandum vir die Interdepartementele Konferensies oor Landbou–Onderwys’, 1–2 Feb. 1934. In its first 29 years, Glen College trained 2,332 diploma students. See SAB LON 6 A16/1, ‘Vooruitgang van Glen. 2332 al daar Opgelei’, Volksblad, c. 11 Dec. 1947.

108 VAB SLT 1/19 A44/4, vol. I, Principal to Chief, Education and Extension Division, 21 Oct. 1932.

109 A trainee course in the 1930s for sons of poor parents, for instance, collapsed after two years, having attracted criticism that it exploited students' labor instead of educating them; see VAB SLT 1/2 A14 3, Notule van Konferensie van Prinsipale van Landboukolleges, 20–2 Feb. 1940.

110 Beinart, Conservation, 257.

111 On a ‘romantic anti-capitalist vision of natural rural order’ of segregation discourse, see S. Dubow, Scientific Racism in Modern South Africa (Cambridge 1995), 170.

112 G. Davie, Poverty Knowledge in South Africa: A Social History of Human Science, 1855–2005 (Cambridge, 2015), 40–1. On the influence of poor whites in Free State politics, see Keegan, T., ‘The restructuring of agrarian class relations in a colonial economy: the Orange River Colony, 1902–1910’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 5:2 (1979), 250.

113 Davie, Poverty Knowledge, 21.

114 VAB ORC 53, Report of the ORC poor whites commission, 1908.

115 E. G. Malherbe, Education and the Poor White: Report of the Carnegie Commission of Investigation on the Poor White Question in South Africa, Volume III (Stellenbosch, 1932). However, the Carnegie report also identified opportunities in cities for poor whites; see J. Iliffe, The African Poor: A History (Cambridge, 1987), 119.

116 Stoler, A. L., ‘Tense and tender ties: the politics of comparison in North American history and (post) colonial studies’, Journal of American History, 88:3 (2001), 857–9.

117 C. Marx, Oxwagon Sentinel: Radical Afrikaner Nationalism and the History of the ‘Ossebrandwag’ (Berlin, 2008), 14.

118 Swart, S., ‘The “Five Shilling Rebellion”: rural white male anxiety and the 1914 Boer Rebellion’, South African Historical Journal, 56 (2011), 88102.

119 Stoler, ‘Tender ties’, 857–61.

120 ‘City-made education ruin of rural population’, 28 Apr. 1939, Rand Daily Mail, SAB LON 234 A 138/1 (vol. II).

121 SAB LDB 2079 R 2930, vol. I, ‘Rural education’, Daily Dispatch, 11 June 1934; E. G. Malherbe (ed.), Educational Adaptations in a Changing Society: Report of the South African Education Conference (Cape Town, 1937).

122 SAB LON 6 A16/1, Secretary, Landbou-onderwysvereniging OFS, to Col. du Toit, 2 Sept. 1931.

123 SAB LDB 2079 R 2930, ‘Rural education’, The Star, 13 Feb. 1934.

124 VAB Education Branch of the Free State Provincial Administration (PAE) 181 – Z 322, ‘Agricultural education: association to be formed in the Free State’, c. late 1940s, newspaper title not shown.

125 Compare SAB LDB 2375 R 3547, correspondence on the ‘poor white question’ in 1928.

126 CUL A881 Fa 14/1, ‘The land question in South Africa’, J. D. Rheinallt Jones, speech at European–Bantu Conference, 31 Jan.–1 Feb. 1929.

127 W. H. Hutt, ‘The social and economic significance of the rural exodus’, in Malherbe (ed.), Educational Adaptations, 350–7.

128 On how this view emerged during the Pact period, see Freund, ‘South Africa’, 228.

129 SAB LON 234 A 138/2, ‘The Department of Agriculture and Agricultural Education’, letter to Farmers' Weekly, 25 June 1947, Director, Agricultural Education.

130 Bozzoli, ‘Marxism’, 130–1.

131 Kok, A. E., ‘The home economist in the OFS region’, Golden Jubilee Glen College of Agriculture, special edition Farming in South Africa, 45:8 (1969), 71–5.

132 SAB LON 10 A27/2, Glen College prospectus, c. 1937; SAB LON 234 A 138/1 (vol. II).

133 S. Marks, ‘War and Union, 1899–1910’, in Ross, Mager, and Nasson (eds.), Cambridge History, 183–4, 187. Du Toit has shown how female Afrikaner nationalists extended the boundaries of the domestic in the 1920s to encompass a ‘redefined public arena’; see du Toit, M., ‘The domesticity of Afrikaner nationalism: volksmoeders and the ACVV, 1904–1929’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 29:1 (2003), 175.

134 VAB PAE 167 Z231 Part I, Secretary, Free State Women's Agricultural Union, to Director, Education, Boemfontein, 5 May 1938, author's translation.

135 SAB LON 6 A16/1, Private Secretary to Free State Agricultural Union, 29 Nov. 1928; E. B. Robinson to Col. du Toit, 19 Apr. 1924; SAB LON 10 A27/1.

136 See correspondence, 1929–35, SAB LDB 2418 R3681, vol. 1. After years of financial stringency, the small institution seems to have closed down in the early 1960s, see correspondence in SAB LDB 2419 R3681, Part III.

137 Beinart describes the late 1930s as the beginning of ‘a new phase of intervention’; Beinart, Conservation, 353 (quotation), 332, 339–41. Betterment, implemented mainly after the Second World War, entailed a fundamental reorganization of land use patterns and massive resettlements; see McAllister, ‘Rural production’, 207; Beinart, ‘Soil erosion’, 74–8.

138 For quotation, see Beinart and Delius, ‘Natives Land Act’, 685.

139 Statistics South Africa, Agricultural Statistics, (, 2015.

* I wish to thank the International Research Center ‘Work and Human Life-Cycle in Global History’ (re:work) at Humboldt University Berlin, particularly Andreas Eckert and Felicitas Hentschke, for making this research possible and providing a stimulating context to discuss my ideas. Special thanks for Corinna Unger for her feedback on an earlier draft of this article. I am also grateful for the insightful comments I received from the three anonymous reviewers. Author’s email:



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