"The photographs and the words so beautifully preserved here evoke powerful—and indeed, painful—memories of the homes left behind when millions of rural Americans packed up, said goodbye to all they had known, and relocated to the nation’s cities and suburbs. The memory of that transition continues for many of us, tearing at our hearts." —Robert Wuthnow, author of Remaking the Heartland: Middle America Since the 1950s


Columbia University Press
November 2013
Clothbound, 10X10 inches 128 pages
62 duotone reproductions

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The numbers of farms and farmers on the Great Plains are dwindling. But disappearing even faster are the farm places -- the houses, barns, and outbuildings that made the rural landscape a place of inhabitation. Nancy Warner's photographs tell the stories of buildings that were once loved but have now been abandoned. Her evocative images are juxtaposed with the voices of Nebraska farm people, lovingly recorded by sociologist David Stark. These plain-spoken recollections tell of a way of life that continues to evolve in the face of wrenching change. 

As you contemplate Warner's spare, formal photographs, you are invited to listen to the cadences and tough-minded humor of everyday speech in the Great Plains. Stark's afterword grounds the project in the historical relationship between people and their land. In the tradition of Wright Morris, this combination of words and images is both art and document, evoking memories, emotions, and questions for anyone with rural American roots.

David Stark is Arthur Lehman Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at Columbia University, where he directs the Center on Organizational Innovation. His most recent book is The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life.

Nancy Warner is a fine-art and portrait photographer based in San Francisco. Many of the photographs in this book were first exhibited at the Great Plans Art Museum as Going Back: Midwestern Farm Places (2008). The photographs are avialable for sale, exhibit, or licensing. Contact Nancy Warner at