Cece Burger: Rural Electrification

For blog 8 I was tasked with finding new sources on rural electrification. Using Summons I found a book published in1940 by Harry Slattery, who was the former REA Administrator, called Rural America Lights Up. The book summarizes the many facets of the REA and President Roosevelt’s order of 1935 and the Rural Electrification Act of 1936. Slattery writes on many important factors, he begins with the early stages and obstacles farmers faced as they pushed for recognition of their need for and utilization of power and continues through early experiments on how to service electricity to rural people. Slattery follows this with a section on the birth of the REA and the major features that came with and because of its creation. Among a variety of other subsections, he adds in sections on the logistics of electric cooperatives and more details on how the system services many consumers while striving to reduce costs. Slattery ends his book with a discussion of the future and consequence of rural electrification as it leaves a long-term effect of government, state, and society. I did not have time to read the whole book but I did look over the Foreword, written by George Norris a scholar on electrification, and the Preface to get a general idea of what the book is about and who Slattery was. Within the first paragraph, Norris gives praise to President Roosevelt and says he is especially proud of the REA and all the success it has had. He goes on to explain Slattery’s influence and importance to the rural electrification effort. Norris praises his work with the REA and points out Slattery’s loyalty to the “patriotic organization of men and women who are doing wonderful work in extending the benefits and happiness of rural electrification to the farmers of America.” The forward provides a clear tone of how the rest of the book will proceed and gives the reader general attitude toward Slattery before one has even read any of his work.

The position Slattery held at the REA and the power he had to participate in the electrification of America put him in a unique position to write on the subject. Slattery published several papers and books on the subject and this book alone holds over 140 pages of comprehensive and interesting information on the entire electrification process and societal side to the story. Slattery comes from a distinctive position as a strong proponent for the REA and advocate of rural electrification. Slattery right away in the Preface uses strong and positive diction when discussing electrification. Phrases that focus clearly on the “triumph” of electrified rural America and the many advantages and achievements that have come about because of it.  Though I have not read the entire book, I find a strong positive sentiment towards the REA and rural electrification efforts within the first few pages of the book. This bent may leave out other facts and faults that did not match with Slattery’s constructive look at all that has been done.


Harry Slattery, Rural America Lights Up. National Home Library Foundation, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924073970919;view=1up;seq=9 Accessed 5 October 2017.

Word Count: 518

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