Enter your search into one or more of the boxes below:
You can refine your search by selecting from any of the options below:
Sod-house Days: Letters from a Kansas Homesteader, 1877-1983

Sod-house Days: Letters from a Kansas Homesteader, 1877-1983 (Paperback)

To Order. Estimated despatch in 3-5 weeks.
Email me when back in stock


Howard Ruede was twenty-two years old in March of 1877 when he rode on a freight wagon into Osborne City, a community in west-central Kansas. A young man of courage, common sense, and independence, Ruede was filled with the optimism and determination typical of the men and women who took up the challenge of homesteading on the prairie. Brought together by economist John Ise and first published in 1937, Sod-House Days is a collection of the letters Ruede wrote to his family in Pennsylvania chronicling his first year in Kansas. In minute detail these letters show the hard, wearying work faced by homesteaders in the 1870s, their almost unbelievable poverty, the hardships of poor food, inadequate clothing, crowding, unsanitary conditions, the lack of decent drinking water, the bedbugs and fleas, flies and mosquitoes. We see Ruede struggling to stay out of debt, walking miles to pick up the mail or to visit a neighbor, working until his bare feet are rubbed raw by the wheat stubble of the fields, going without meat because he hasn't been able to kill a jackrabbit, cooking biscuits in a kettle over his sod fireplace.

Taken together, his observations constitute a careful and graphic picture of the pioneer community in which he lived, one that joins recent studies such as Sandra Myres's Westering Women and the Frontier Experience in presenting an accurate, if brutal, picture of life on the western frontier. In a perceptive new foreword, sociologist Scott G. McNall considers the context within which the story of Howard Ruede unfolded. He delineates the forces and factors that contributed to the rapid settlement of the Great Plains. He reads the dominant themes that run through Ruede's letters: an almost religious faith in progress and hard work, and a tremendous concern for the idea of community. He also addresses a central question: What made these people stay? McNall writes, "The value of these materials has been not at all reduced by the passage of time...[This] is the story of an ordinary person with heroic dimensions. Reading these letters, we see what values people had which allowed them to try, and then try again, after they had seen their efforts destroyed by drought, grasshoppers, prairie fires, and other disasters...It is a story of struggle with the environment, of creative adaption to circumstance, of people as active participants in creating the society around them.


History & PoliticsHistory: specific events & topicsSocial & cultural history Publisher: University Press of Kansas Publication Date: 15/11/1983 ISBN-13: 9780700602346  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
Availability: To Order. Estimated despatch in 3-5 weeks.  

More books by Howard Ruede

More books by John Ise

Leave Review


Delivery Options

All delivery times quoted are the average, and cannot be guaranteed. These should be added to the availability message time, to determine when the goods will arrive. During checkout we will give you a cumulative estimated date for delivery.

Location 1st Book Each additional book Average Delivery Time
UK Standard Delivery FREE FREE 3-5 Days
UK First Class £4.50 £1.00 1-2 Days
UK Courier £7.00 £1.00 1-2 Days
Western Europe** Courier £17.00 £3.00 2-3 Days
Western Europe** Airmail £5.00 £1.50 4-14 Days
USA / Canada Courier £20.00 £3.00 2-4 Days
USA / Canada Airmail £7.00 £3.00 4-14 Days
Rest of World Courier £22.50 £3.00 3-6 Days
Rest of World Airmail £8.00 £3.00 7-21 Days

** Includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Delivery Help & FAQs

Returns Information

If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase*, you may return it to us in its original condition with in 30 days of receiving your delivery or collection notification email for a refund. Except for damaged items or delivery issues the cost of return postage is borne by the buyer. Your statutory rights are not affected.

* For Exclusions and terms on damaged or delivery issues see Returns Help & FAQs

You might also like

The Oxford Handbook of Names and Naming
Carole Hough
A Frayed History: The Journey of...
Meena Menon
The Clothing of the Common Sort,...
Susan Mee Margaret Spufford; Susan Mee
The Rome We Have Lost
John Pemble
Latest Blog
#FoylesFive: The Last Jedi

As Star Wars: The Last Jedi drops out of hyperspace and into a cinema near you, Matt from our Web Team gives us his selection of the best Last Jedi books.

#FoylesFive: Foreign Languages Part One

Our knowledgeable and fabulous Languages Department have put together a great selection of books, to help share the magic of reading in every language. First up we have books in Italian, Portugese and Swedish.

Crime, Responsibility and Morality: The Impact of Siberian Exile on Fyodor Dostoevsky

Daniel describes how Siberian exile was the great writer Fyodor Dostoevsky’s foundational experience as an author and thinker.

View all Blog Entries
Show/Hide Tweets
© W&G Foyle Ltd