We often think of history in linear terms: past as prologue, one event following another, one year leading into the next. In a Rostowian-styled model of development, this kind of linear progression prefigures not only conceptualizations about the past, but also assumptions about the present. This paper reexamines the unexpected appearance of women and women’s lives embedded in early rural sociological research to consider how implicit assumptions about the past prefigure what we expect to “see” and influence the way we make sense of it.

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