Crossroads: Change in Rural America

Goodbye, "Crossroads!"


Crossroads: Change in Rural America is a traveling Smithsonian exhibit that offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths and to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. The exhibition prompts discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred.

SC Humanities was pleased to bring Crossroads: Change in Rural America to South Carolina in 2018 – 2019 for a 10-month tour of six communities: Union, Denmark, Newberry, Hopkins, Barnwell, and Dillon. Each host community hosted the exhibit for six weeks and presented collateral programming from local exhibits to oral histories to movie screenings. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LOCAL SPECIAL EVENTS.


About the Exhibit

In 1900, about 40% of Americans lived in rural areas, By 2010, less than 18% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas. In just over a century, massive economic and social changes moved millions of Americans into urban areas. Yet, only 10% of the U.S. landmass is considered urban.

Many Americans consider rural communities to be endangered and hanging on by a thread—suffering from brain drain, inadequate schools, and a barren, overused landscape. Why should revitalizing the rural places left behind matter to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come in the future? Because there is much more to the story of rural America.

Despite the massive economic and demographic impacts brought on by these changes, America’s small towns continue to creatively focus on new opportunities for growth and development. Economic innovation and a focus on the cultural facets that make small towns unique, comfortable, and desirable have helped many communities create their own renaissance. The future is bright for much of rural America as small towns embrace the notion that their citizens and their cultural uniqueness are important assets.


Exhibit Schedule

September 8 – October 21, 2018
Union County Carnegie Library
300 E South St, Union, SC 29379
Contact: Taylor Atkinson, 864-427-7140
See special events in Union

October 27 – December 9, 2018
Voorhees College
Elizabeth Evelyn Wright – John Foster Potts Library
213 Wiggins Drive, Denmark, SC 29042
Contact: Richard Reid, 803-780-1225
See special events in Denmark

December 15, 2018 – February 3, 2019
Newberry Opera House
1201 McKibben Street, Newberry, SC 29108
Contact: Molly Fortune, 803-276-5179
See special events in Newberry

February 9 – March 24, 2019
Harriet Barber House
116 Barberville Loop, Hopkins, SC 29061
Contact: Marie B. Adams, 803-788-7185
See special events in Hopkins

March 30 – May 12, 2019
Barnwell County Library (in partnership with the Barnwell County Museum)
Barnwell County Library, 40 Burr St, Barnwell, SC 29812
Contact: 803-259-1916 or 803-259-3612
See special events in Barnwell

May 18 – June 29, 2019
Host: Dillon County Theatre Association
Location: Dillon County Court House

301 W Main Street, Dillon, SC 29536
Contact: Pat Laird, 843-845-2875



For more information about Crossroads: Change in Rural America, please contact T.J. Wallace at 803-771-2477.

Crossroads: Change in Rural America was made possible in South Carolina by SC Humanities. Crossroads: Change in Rural America is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.


Sponsored in part by:

Top Image: Austin, Minnesota by Terri Cobb
Bottom Image/Top: Farmer using technology in tractor; Photo by Karim Shamsi-Basha
Bottom Image/Middle: Bookmobile, Rappahannock County, VA, ca. 1940; Central Rappahannock Regional Library


The Communal Pen: A Partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission

SC Humanities and the South Carolina Arts Commission have developed a special partnership to present writing workshops at each local host community for the Crossroads: Change in Rural America tour.

In the Communal Pen workshops, participants will write to celebrate and explore their connections to place and community. What are the memories, stories, and traditions that make our community home? What landmarks, customs, sights and sounds connect us with family, friends, and neighbors, while highlighting our unique experience and identity? Sometimes you’ve just got to write it down.

The next Communal Pen workshop will take place in Newberry on Saturday, January 19, 2019 | Learn more.

State Scholar

SC Humanities selects a state scholar for each Museum on Main Street exhibit tour. For Crossroads: Change in Rural America, the state scholar is Dr. Ken Robinson of Clemson University.

About Dr. Robinson:

Ken Robinson, a native of Graniteville, SC, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice at Clemson University, his alma mater. He is also an extension specialist with the Sandhill Research and Education Center in Columbia, SC. His research and outreach interests include rural sociology, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development. He teaches courses in Community Sociology, Human Ecology, Social Impact Analysis, Rural Development Policy and a “creative inquiry” research course on Locally Grown Foods.

Prior to returning to Clemson in 2005, Ken Robinson was a post-doctoral research associate at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, where he received his Ph.D. in Development Sociology.  While at Cornell, Ken Robinson was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to examine the emergence of small-scale, commercial agriculture in the economically disadvantaged, former homeland areas of KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa.

Ken Robinson is also a graduate of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a student of the late Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan.  Upon completing his Master’s at the LBJ School, Ken Robinson relocated to Washington, DC, where he served as a Presidential Management Intern with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and later as a lobbyist in the Texas Governor’s Office of State-Federal Relations.

Ken Robinson has served on the board of directors of Market Matters, Inc., an international business development services organization based in Ithaca, NY, and Pretoria, South Africa.  MM, Inc. focuses on capacity building in emerging markets. Ken Robinson is locally active as well, participating in community organizations such as Cornell Alumni Association Blue Ridge Mountains, Education Foundation of Pickens County, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

He is married to the former Miss Lisa Harris of Ithaca, NY, and they reside in Clemson.