The Impact of Sears & Roebuck on Rural America

Most people are aware of Sears & Roebuck but may not know the impact of the company on rural America. Sure, Sears & Roebuck sold household and farm-related items to millions of people, but they did much more than that. Some of the activities in which they were involved included:

  • Paying the salaries of county agricultural agents before the Cooperative Extension Service was established.
  • Establishing a radio station (WLS) in Chicago to broadcast farm news and weather information to farmers.
  • Produced movies for rural audiences on such topics as farm safety and care of livestock. They also made movies that promoted 4-H and FFA.
  • Selling Barn kits to farmers.
  • Provided scholarships so young people could go to college and study agriculture and home economics
  • Provided cows, hens, and pigs to young people so they could get established in farming.
  • Provided registered bulls to communities to breed to native cattle to improve their genetics.
  • Started adult farmer short courses at agricultural colleges.
  • Conducted seed corn, cotton, canning, quilting, home improvement, and community development contests.
  • Promoted victory gardens
  • Established a fur and wool marketing program for farmers

Sears and Roebuck established an Agricultural Foundation in 1921 and had employees in different regions of the county who worked hard to promoted agriculture and the development of rural America. In this presentation, you will discover there was more to Sears & Roebuck than producing a catalog for use in the outhouse.