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The restoration that changed scholarship


The Lessons from the Veblen Farm:
the Origins of Thorstein Veblen's Social Thought

In the USA, the most significant non-Marxist critique of late 19th century capitalism was penned by Thorstein Veblen.  Veblen’s reputation over the years has been besmirched by defenders of the status quo from the FBI to the hacks of academe.  He was called “the man from Mars” by his most famous biographer.  In spite of the fact that there is not a scintilla of evidence from his writings, Veblen has even been called a “Marxist” by the clueless who assume that everyone who lived after Marx and found something wrong with capitalism MUST have been influenced by him.

The rest of the scholarly papers on this site can be found here.

The restoration
in .pdf form

7.8 megs



Veblen as a member of a Norwegian pioneer settlement

MP4 movie. 31.3 megs. 12:33 running time.

A recounting of the lessons learned from the restoration as told to the Valley Grove Preservation Society Jun 2001. Valley Grove is where Thorstein's parents are buried and was a cultural center of the immigrant community. Brother Orson was the general contractor for the wooden church on the site.



Bob Vila
young TBV
JKG at farm

The story of the Veblen farmhouse restoration as told by Bob Vila on his program Restore America.

First seen on Home and Garden television. QT movie 11.5 megs--running time 6:20.

Pictures from show--top to bottom

Bob Vila, host.

A young Thorstein Veblen as a Carleton grad.

John Kenneth Galbraith at the farm for the filming of the BBCs "The Age of Uncertainty" in 1975. (JKG, dead at the age of 97, April 29, 2006)



The description of the Veblen settlement in USA

by TBV's siblings

very helpful to the restoration effort!


Andrew to Dorfman (1)

Andrew to Dorfman (2)

Andrew Veblen wrote Jospeh Dorfman to complain about the misrepresentations of the Veblen family history contained in Dorfman's biography of Thorstein. Although Andrew was unsuccessful in getting the biography changed, these letters proved amazing accurate when describing the house.

Emily on the family history

Emily was Thorstein's sister who was closest in age to him. So her descriptions of her childhood would be most similar to his. Wonderfully written.


Orson Veblen was the brother who became the sort of citizen who ran a small-town business, had dozens of friends, and was a trustee for the newly founded St. Olaf college in nearby Northfield Minnesota. In spite of the fact he didn't have a clue as to why his brother become so famous, Orson paints a generous portrait of a sibing he admired.

Essays on the restoration

Jonathan Larson

Speculations on the Origins of
Thorstein Veblen's Aesthetic Criticisms

The notion that Veblen's writings have anything positive to do with the subject of aesthetics strikes many as bizarre. The picture of a slovenly professor shuffling about in mail-order clothing with his socks pinned to his trousers is quite at odds with the common conception of an aesthete. More importantly, Veblen hurls some of his sharpest verbal volleys at the conspicuous waste that is part and parcel of the norms of beauty and refinement in his "Theory of The Leisure Class."

Why Fix the Veblen Farm

There is something particularly appropriate about exploring an abandoned farm site on a gloomy day. A leaden stillness remains where once the sights and smells and sounds of people and animals joined forces in a productive effort as old as recorded history. The squealing and snorting and pawing of animals are gone--replaced by the lonesome sound of a loose piece of barn siding banging in the wind.

Joseph Dorfman's Many Errors from a Minnesota perspective

Personally, I find Dorfman's biography of Veblen to be an absurd and wholly unbelievable piece of utter rot--the kind that gives academics and other intellectuals a bad reputation. But compared to some of the relatives I met at the August 13, 1994 Veblen family reunion, my feelings could best be characterized as charitable. So while I will attempt to be "objective" in my description of those objections to his work that I have uncovered, I may fail.

RETURN TO: Correcting the history about T. B. Veblen

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