A Tenant Farmer's Story - The Journals of Seborn Jones

Seborn's Story

The Journal Exhibition

Special Features

During the early 1900s cotton, rice, and tobacco farmers, tenant farmers and sharecroppers struggled and lagged behind other farmers in the nation. Fluctuations in crop prices and lack of modern mechanization lessened many of the farmers' income to such a degree often they only had enough income to meet their bare needs. Property owners provided tenant farmers with land and usually housing and in exchange received more than one-half of the cash from the crops. What was daily life like for a tenant farmer and his family in the early twentieth century? The private journals of Seborn L. Jones provide historians a unique opportunity to understand tenant farmers daily activities and struggles. Seborn's writings, even sometimes-mundane thoughts and comments on his daily activities give a voice to tenant farmers in the early 1900s.

The goal of this website is to provide a setting for historians and others to study the private life of Seborn Jones, a white tenant farmer in the south from post reconstruction to pre New Deal. Historians can study Seborn Jones, who lived in Northeast Arkansas during the period 1901-1921 and his personal journals written from 1916-1921 in order to understand life as a tenant farmer and the social, economic and personal concerns of tenant farmers during this period. In order to also understand the social conditions and family construction in this community, historians need only read the many journal entries that reference his family and private life. Seborn's entries including personal comments about his feelings regarding his family including feelings of loneliness, martial squabbles, frustration with his children and the death of his son help us understand what it meant to be a husband, father, son and the definition of masculinity at this time. This research will identify the difficulties Seborn and many tenant farmers faced living and working as a tenant farmer.

CSUSM History Department

333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road, San Marcos, CA

Patricia Manley Homepage

©2009 Patricia Manley

All copyrighted photos and materials used are used for educational purposes only under "Educational Fair Use" CSU San Marcos