ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
Hard Times in Illinois, 1930–1940
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
NEWS RELEASE FROM THE STATE RURAL ELECTRIFICATION COMMITTEE
The Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was a New Deal program which was established on May 11, 1935. At that time approximately eleven percent of the nation's farms were supplied with electricity. In an effort to improve the rural living standard and to slow the exodus of farmers to cities the Roosevelt administration devised the REA. Its purpose was to make low interest loans to farm cooperatives which were in the business of building and operating power plants and power lines in rural areas not otherwise served. Cooperatives often served those areas which privately-owned utility companies chose not to serve due to low population density. Electricity brought comfort and convenience to the farm and over time led to the automation of a variety of operations. It has been estimated that by 1960 ninety-seven percent of America's farms had electricity.
Points to Consider
What was "rural electrification"?
What were the two kinds of power companies identified in this document?
Which kind likely would have provided the cheapest electricity?
What would the installation of electricity have meant to a rural family in 1938?