Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Illinois College
Website URL
Rural women, civil defense, women's activism, agriculture, social movements, women's education, archives, teaching, pedagogy, digital history, public history
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Jenny Barker-Devine, Professor of History, is a teacher and scholar. She is driven by a commitment to building meaningful experiential learning opportunities for students in the classroom, within the community, and beyond the campus. In 2009, she initiated the Illinois College Time Capsule project to organize and rehouse archival materials, enhance the curriculum, and promote campus and community outreach. In 2013, she was a leading member of the team that secured the NEH Challenge Grant to renovate a space in Schewe Library for the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives. In 2015, she was selected to participate in the Council of Independent Colleges’ Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research, which led to the development of the first digital collections at Illinois College. 

With more than twenty years of experience as a historian of American history, she is the author of On Behalf of the Family Farm: Iowa Farm Women’s Activism Since 1945 (University of Iowa Press, 2013), as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters. Her current research project, titled American Athena: Cultivating Victorian Womanhood on the Midwestern Frontier, is a community study of women’s lives in Jacksonville, Illinois from 1825-1925. This unique project looks through the layers of archival sources to not only tell the stories of Jacksonville’s women, but to also consider how those stories come to be told. To that end, Barker-Devine is actively engaged in the procurement and processing of the archival collections she uses for her research, which is not a typical practice for historians. American Athena was recognized with a grant from the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (2015-2016), which funded eight weeks of research in New England repositories.

Barker-Devine brings all of these experiences to the classroom. From focused courses on archives and digital history to broad US history surveys, students in Barker-Devine’s courses consistently engage with the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives and the Paul Findley Congressional Office Museum at Illinois College. Her students collaborate with external partners including the Illinois State Archives, Looking for Lincoln, and the Jacksonville Convention and Visitors Bureau. As an active advocate for history and the humanities, she regularly speaks to community groups and professional organizations and has served on the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board (2013-2019), the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council (2019-present), and the Illinois State Historical Society Board of Directors (2020-present).

Recent Publications

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

“‘Why, you can be a journalist, kid’: The Emerald Goose and Women’s Journalism at Iowa State College During the First World War,” Annals of Iowa 75, no. 4 (Fall 2016), 376-405.

“The Secret to a Successful Farm Organization”: Township Farm Bureau Women’s Clubs in Iowa, 1945-1970,” Annals of Iowa 69, no. 4 (Fall 2010), 41-73.

“The Answer to the Auxiliary Syndrome: Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE) and

New Organizing Strategies for Farm Women, 1976-1985,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies 30, no. 3 (2009), 117-141.

“‘Hop to the Top With the Iowa Chop’: The Iowa Porkettes and Cultivating Feminism in the Midwest, 1964-1992,” Agricultural History 83, no. 4 (Fall 2009), 477-502.

“The Farmer and the Atom: The Iowa State Cooperative Extension Service and Rural Civil Defense, 1955-1970,” Annals of Iowa 66, no. 2 (Spring 2007), 161-194.

“Mightier Than Missiles: The Rhetoric of Civil Defense for American Farm Families, 1950-1970,” Agricultural History 80, no.4 (Fall 2006), 415–435.

  • Reprinted in G. Kurt Piehler and Rosemary Mariner, eds. The Atomic Bomb and American Society: New Perspectives (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2009).

“Quite a Ripple But No Revolution”: The Changing Roles of Women in the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation,” Annals of Iowa 64, no.1 (Winter 2005), 1-36.


Invited Essays in Scholarly Journals

“When the Metadata Doesn’t Help: Constructing Frameworks for an Ambiguous Region,” Middle West Review 5, no. 2 (Spring 2019), 51-56.

“Sustaining the Conversation: The Farm Crisis and the Midwest,” with co-editor David D. Vail, Middle West Review 1, no. 2 (Fall 2015), 1-7. Served as guest editor for this special issue on the farm crisis of the 1980s.

“Revisiting Rural Women’s Studies,” with co-editors Jeannie Whayne and Linda Ambrose, Agricultural History 89, no. 3 (Summer 2015), 380-387. Served as guest editor for this special issue on new directions in rural women’s studies.


Book Chapters

“3,000 Tons to Lose: The Iowa Cooperative Extension Service, Farm Women, and Weight Control, 1948-1961,” in Back Stories: The Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook, ed. Cynthia C. Prescott and Maureen S. Thompson. (Grand Forks, ND: Digital Press of the University of North Dakota, 2021), 263-274. Peer reviewed.

“A Stamp of Femininity”: The Sorosis Literary Society, Women’s Intellectual Discourse, and Regional Identity in Jacksonville, Illinois, 1865-1900 in Jon K. Lauck, Paul Murphy, Andrew Seal, Joe Hogan, and Gleaves Whitney, eds., The Sower and the Seer: Perspectives on the Intellectual History of the American Midwest (Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2021), 34-50. 

“Rural Women” in Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, ed. in The Routledge History of Rural America (New York: Routledge, 2016), 121-135.

“Putting the Farm First: Feminism and Rural American Women’s Activism in the Twentieth Century,” with Sara Egge, in Barbara Pini, Berit Brandth, and J.K. Little, eds., Feminisms and Ruralities (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014), 15-30.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
Environment, Food History, Gender, Higher Ed, Libraries & Archives, Local & Regional, Pedagogy, Public History, Rural & Agrarian History, Women