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Turns of the Centuries Exhibit > The Land 1880-1920 > Understanding Landscapes
This theme in other eras: 1680-1720 | 1780-1820 | 1880-1920

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.

Understanding Landscapes : Back to Nature


Advances in technology, transportation and mass-production created new jobs and improved the quality of life for many people at the turn of the twentieth century. At the same time, Americans struggled with the social and economic challenges industrialization brought. These challenges included labor unrest, workplace exploitation, competition from other regions due to an expanding railroad system, and waves of immigration.

Religious revivalism combined with a back-to-nature movement helped many people deal with the stresses of urbanization and industrialization. Thousands of Americans incorporated an active, socially conscious Christianity into their everyday lives. This Social Gospel emphasized physical as well as spiritual wellbeing. Those who could, sought fresh, unpolluted air and natural surroundings not only to renew their physical health, but also to recharge their spiritual selves. In pursuit of this goal, legions of middle-class Americans combined religious revival meetings with the pleasures of summer camping. A photographer captured this image of two women relaxing at their camp meeting site in Ashfield, Massachusetts in 1907.

Campsites such as the one depicted here seem elaborate to twentieth century eyes. To Victorian men and women however, "camping out" represented an escape from the intense formalism and custom that permeated home life in this period. Visitors remarked on the way in which camps exposed the more private aspects of domestic life. One observer wrote with fascination how women performed "the processes of cooking, ironing, and other household duties...with graceful unconsciousness or indifference to outside eyes."


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Camp Meeting Residence

photographer   Maud Dodge
date   1907
location   Ashfield, Massachusetts
width   7.0"
height   5.0"
process/materials   paper print
item type   Photograph/Photograph
accession #   #1996.12.2616

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See Also...

Gospel Meeting Tent

Camp Meeting Residence

Jacob's well

The Bridge, Lake Pleasant, Mass.

Lake Pleasant Cottage

Lake Pleasant

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