If you go out to the Great Plains today, it’s pretty easy to find the past. A way of life that included family farms and farm houses all over the area. Photographer Nancy Warner grew up visiting her grandparents’ place in rural Nebraska. And in going back as an adult, she was struck by the disrepair of empty, broken down houses. Farm houses that had been left behind when families sold their land and moved on. Nancy started taking pictures, and teamed up with her cousin David Stark, a sociologist, to interview some of the people who were holding on. Their book is called “This Place, These People: Life and Shadow on the Great Plains.” Stark says the study struck on a sentiment that is as complicated as it is melancholic.
“There’s a sadness about something that’s lost, and there’s also a kind of stubborn persistence about maintaining a kind of life. It’s not only sad, it’s a mixture of remorse, regret and anticipation of a future because these places are disappearing but the farms are still being farmed.”
Wedding Dress, Herchenbach Place. Cass County, Iowa, 2007, from page 37 of “This Place, These People.” (Nancy Warner)