University of Southern Indiana
Clarence Patten, a tenant farmer in Mumford Farms in Griffin, Indiana in 1935. Courtesy of the Mumford Family.

Crossroads: Change in Rural America

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Southern Indiana has enacted safety measures for campus and other University properties. All special events, conferences, meetings and classes hosted by Historic New Harmony and the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art, as well as programs hosted by outside organizations at these sites, are canceled through August 14. This includes events at all property owned or leased by the University of Southern Indiana and Crossroads: Change in Rural America.

Crossroads: Change in Rural America
Thrall's Opera House May 9-June 21
Open Friday-Monday 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Available on each daily tour

Historic New Harmony has been selected by Indiana Humanities as one of six communities in Indiana to host a Smithsonian-curated traveling exhibit as a part of the Museum on Main Street Program, which brings rural exhibitions and programs to rural communities. In addition to this exhibit Historic New Harmony will host several public programs and produce a local companion exhibit entitled "Then and Now: Snapshots of Posey County's Ever-Changing Landscape."

In 1900, about 40% of Americans lived in rural areas, By 2010, less than 18% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas. In just over a century, massive economic and social changes moved millions of Americans into urban areas. Yet, only 10% of the U.S. landmass is considered urban.

Many Americans consider rural communities to be endangered and hanging on by a thread—suffering from brain drain, inadequate schools, and a barren, overused landscape. Why should revitalizing the rural places left behind matter to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come? Because there is much more to the story of rural America.

Crossroads: Change in Rural America offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. The exhibition will prompt discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred.

Despite the massive economic and demographic impacts brought on by these changes, America’s small towns continue to creatively focus on new opportunities for growth and development. Economic innovation and a focus on the cultural facets that make small towns unique, comfortable, and desirable have helped many communities create their own renaissance. The future is bright for much of rural America as small towns embrace the notion that their citizens and their cultural uniqueness are important assets.

Crossroads: Change in Rural America has been made possible in New Harmony by Indiana Humanities. Crossroads: Change in Rural America is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

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