Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 82 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Richard Hamm


Back to the Land Movement, Communes, Homesteads, Self-Sufficiency, Urban-rural migration, Self-reliant living, Frontier and pioneer life, Communal living

Subject Categories

Agriculture | History | United States History


From 1965 - 1980, numerous individuals established homesteads and communes in St. Lawrence County, NY as part of the Back to the Land Movement. The Back to the Land movement occurred as a direct response to the problems that arose in the 1960's and 1970's. Unlike the radical activists of the 1960's, the Back to the Landers chose to show their disgust with mainstream society by dropping out. They sold their belongings and relocated to the country, where they attempted to live off the land. St. Lawrence County was a popular destination for Back to the Landers because it offered inexpensive land and an abundance of farming opportunities. In St. Lawrence County, Back to the Landers struggled with numerous issues, including lack of money, difficulties maintaining their self-sufficient lifestyle, relationship problems, and a lack of understanding of the amount of work necessary to sustain the lifestyle. St. Lawrence County Back to the Landers had a significant impact on the community as they became involved in community affairs. Many Back to the Landers worked in St. Lawrence County, and all of the Back to the Landers associated with the "locals." During their time in St. Lawrence County, the Back to the Landers influenced the community. Their most significant contributions were in the areas of farming and women's rights. By the time the movement ended, many Back to the Landers became permanent residents of St. Lawrence County. After struggling for a number of years, most Back to the Landers chose to abandon the lifestyle and return to mainstream society. They realized that the reality of living off the land was much different than they had imagined, and they no longer wanted to struggle to meet their basic needs. When the movement ended, the Back to the Landers returned to the modern conveniences of mainstream America, but they were forever changed by their experience.