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Stories from Gelderland

De oorspronkelijke boerderij Klein Amerika, die is afgebrand in 1944The original Klein Amerika farm in Renkum, which burned down in 1944

Map tour of oral history stories of farmers, citizens and outsiders in Gelderland


Stories of farmers, citizens and outsiders in Gelderland: oral history stories from all over Gelderland collected and written by the volunteers of the Oral History Working Group Gelderland in 2014.


What did life in the Gelderland countryside look like in the past seventy years? Twenty-four personal stories paint a picture. From laundry day to slaughter, from sowing to harvesting and from going to school to marrying to increase one’s property; it is all covered in this publication. But also the shepherd and the miller tell about their lives and thus offer a glimpse into the rural development of the past years.



Tractor driving from the age of six, farmers who had more children than cows, haymaking leave and leave to look for lapwings’ eggs. But also ‘working your whole life for a small cupboard with a few things, the clothes you wear and a Bible’. These are a few examples of personal memories that give an impression of life in the countryside some seventy years ago.


In a family with a large and a small servant, a large and a small maid and eight children, one had to work hard to make ends meet. Everyone worked in the fields to bring in the harvest. The farmer’s wife and the maid were busy doing all the laundry on laundry day. And after the slaughter it was a week of roasting and preserving meat. Togetherness and noaberschap do not represent an idealisation of reality, but were indispensable in everyday life.


Developments such as the first ‘rietuug zonder peerde’, the influence of the leasing law and the relationship between Scholte farmers and their leaseholders are discussed. The same applies to the now topical theme of parents living at home and caring for each other across generations. Not only farmers tell their stories: a shepherd and a miller have also found a place in this publication. Their stories illustrate, among other things, the influence of mechanisation and land consolidation.


Much knowledge about historical farmyards and farm life has disappeared. Farmer’s wisdom, traditions and customs are fading away. The layout of farmsteads is changing. The countryside moves with the times and adapts to new functions. However, the cultural-historical landscape is important for a vital countryside where it is good to live, work and relax.


Several years ago, Stichting Landschapsbeheer Gelderland and Erfgoed Gelderland took the initiative to record life at farmsteads. Personal stories contribute to a greater understanding of the farmyard as a central part of the cultural-historical countryside. Volunteers from the Oral History Working Group Gelderland enthusiastically took to the roads and lanes: from Culemborg to Winterswijk and from Ederveen to Zelhem. They interviewed the country folk who lived and worked here over the past seventy years, resulting in this publication.