Drink Milk Campaign Across America–1920s

Hello, again History Lovers,

At the turn of the twentieth century, the government, dairy associations, and health organizations began promoting the nutritional benefits of drinking milk daily, especially among children. The Drink Milk campaign also promoted eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and getting outside. Today’s post is an article published in May 1922 that reports on the nationwide success of the Drink Milk campaigns of 1920 and 21.


Lithograph Poster 1920s

Milk Makes A Difference

From Maine to California, from Canada to the Gulf, milk campaigns have been the order of the day. Practically every woman’s organization in the country has taken a part in them somewhere and there is probably not a single state that has not had a least one campaign. As a result of these milk campaigns in our large cities, towns, villages, and the most isolated rural communities we find the children playing the popular health games and drinking their daily allotment of milk.

The need for such campaigns is not confined to any one class. Not only from the poorest homes, where economic pressure is so great that the family cannot afford the needed milk but also from the homes of great wealth, where the lack is due to ignorance of a child’s needs, come the lads and lassies whose frail bodies and pale cheeks betray a lack of proper food. And the only magic that can round out the hollows in the little bodies and can bring the roses to their cheeks is the magic wielded by the milk fairies.

The gospel of more milk has been preached with every possible device to appeal to childish imaginations, for it has been the aim to make the children want to drink milk—not to force them to do it because “it is good for them.”

Cho Cho The Health Clown

Newspaper Clipping Announcing the Coming of Cho Cho the Health Clown 1921

One of the successful milk missionaries has been Cho Cho, the Health Clown sent by the Child Health Organization. After Cho Cho had visited North Dakota during a health campaign there, one small boy was asked to name the three greatest Americans. Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Cho Cho.” Cho Cho has taught thousands of boys and girls who until they made his acquaintance, scorned milk and vegetables, to eat these blood-building foods. So popular has he become, that many communities which could not secure him, have trained health clowns of their own.

Cho Cho promoted several health rules:

  1. A full bath more often than once a week.
  2. Brushing the teeth at least once every day.
  3. Sleeping long hours with windows open.
  4. Drinking as much milk as possible, but with no tea or coffee.
  5. Eating some vegetables or fruit every day.
  6. Drinking at least four glasses of water every day.
  7. Playing outdoors every day.
  8. A bowel movement every morning.

If the small lad quoted above could have been one of the 3,000 school children in Utica, New York, or one of the 13,000 in Syracuse, New York, this past year, he would have been hard put to it to answer his question. No American lad could take Washington or Lincoln from such a list but what could he do for the third place when his affections were divided between Cho Cho, the Health Clown, and Happy, the Jolly Jester!

Memories of Cho Cho’s visit last year made the kiddies in these two cities look happily forward to milk week in 1921. They were not disappointed. They did not know exactly what would happen but at some time during the week, each roomful of children was thrilled to trembling, happy silence when a huge, shaggy trunk was carried on the platform in their rooms and then out of it tumbled Happy, greeting them with the jolliest grin and proceeding to tumble into their hearts. Happy is a ventriloquist, so he was able to make Charlie Carrot and Johnnie Spinach talk bewitchingly to the children and carry on a most lifelike conversation with one Harry a life-size rag doll. One small boy, trembling with excitement, asked Happy where he lived. He gravely replied, “42 Bath Tub Street.” Most of the children giggled with delight but one wee laddie gravely wrote the address down, with the evident desire to carry on such a delightful friendship by correspondence or even by a personal interview.

The Milky Way is the Best Way

This work has been just as popular and successful in the Pacific States as in those bordering the Atlantic. In Thurston County, Washington, over forty local organizations joined forces to make the milk campaign a success. The opening guns were fired—or the first milk bottle opened—on a Sunday evening when the regular service in the United Churches was turned over to a nutrition specialist from the State College, who preached an interesting health sermon and then showed the film of the Milk Fairy play.

Any person in Thurston County who did not know that a milk campaign was going on, must have been blind and deaf. Milk signs and milk slogans assailed eyes and ears at every turn. Fifteen store windows carried displays emphasizing the importance of milk; at intersections were huge milk bottles pointing out that the “milk way” was the “best way”; streetcar banners, milk bottle “stickers” for automobile windshields, and placards in restaurants all carried their milk message. During the week over 10,000 people listened to talks stressing the importance of milk in building healthy bodies.

Milk Fairy Pageant

In Iowa, during the year from July 1, 1920, to June 30, 1921, milk campaigns were put on in 32 counties. As a result of this work, the milk consumption in that State increased by approximately 1,112,664 quarts. These campaigns included the presentation of the Milk Fairy Pageant. One little girl in Sibley Co. went home and said, “Well, I don’t like milk but I am going to drink it anyway because I couldn’t be in the pageant—I’m too skinny!”

Not For Children Only–Milk Bar

At the great Timonium Fair held in Baltimore, Maryland, the “milk bar” was one of the most popular features of the occasion. Someone said in describing the drinks sold there, “they are the only drinks now sold across the bar that have the right kind of a ‘kick’ in them!” While their names might well have aroused the suspicion of any agent charged with the enforcement of the Volstead Act, their contents complied with the strictest requirements of both health and prohibition. Some of the drinks served were:

  • Guernsey Highball: ¾ cup milk, 2 Tablespoons vanilla syrup.
  • Jersey Fizz: ¾ cup milk, 2 Tablespoons pineapple syrup.
  • Timonium Racer: ¾ cup milk, 2 Tablespoons mint syrup.
  • Buttermilk Highball: ¾ cup milk 2 Tablespoons sugar, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice.

Milk Campaign in Cherry Hill, Michigan

One milk dealer in Wayne County, Michigan reports that in place of the one to two ten-gallon cans that he sold each day before the campaign held in the Cherry Hill community, he is now selling eight to ten cans and, in addition, is daily delivery ten or more pints of milk at the school so that some of the children can get the extra allotment of milk that they need to bring them up to normal.

Dry Cows Are The Problem

Shortly after the campaign in Topeka, Kansas, Miss Jessie Hoover, in charge of milk utilization work with the Dairy Division, U.S. Department of Agriculture, visited a rural school in the vicinity. In this school, all of the children except one family of three had gained weight through the increased use of milk. When the three were asked if they drank milk they said “No, Lady! Our cows are dry but Mother says just as soon as they come in we can drink milk too.” She was convinced!

It is an interesting fact that in not a single case, have the distributors of milk increased the price of their product as a result of the increased demand which invariably follows one of these campaigns.

Free Milk

In Warren, Ohio, the people who were to run the “milk bar” exhibit found it difficult to secure someone who would furnish the milk for their drinks. Finally, they approached a milk producer who agreed to furnish them with the milk without charge, if they in turn would agree to take over his skimmed milk and distribute it free to the children, giving each child all that he wanted so long as the supply lasted. They advertised that this free distribution would take place every afternoon from three to four o’clock. Half an hour early the line began to form. In four days, the daily amount given out increased from ten gallons to forty!

One newsboy well carried out the description of a small boy as “an appetite with a skin stretched around it” for he consumed ten glasses at the first sitting! Several small negroes brought quart bottles which they hid behind the milk booth. They took their places in line, received their individual glasses of milk, went around the booth, emptied the milk into the bottles, and started in all over again. By “repeating” a sufficient number of times they were able to fill their bottles as well as themselves.

Children’s Dairy Parade with Costumes

In Wheeling, West Virginia, the people in charge of the campaign took advantage of the universal love of a circus by staging a parade. The local box factory furnished large paper forms representing butter, milk bottles, and so forth. The children, wearing these forms, marched in squads of sixteen so arranged that they formed legends relating to the use of milk.

Clipping from Popular Science Monthly February 1920

During this same campaign, a good deal of excitement was caused one morning by two painters who appeared before a great billboard in the heart of the city. One was wearing a huge pasteboard milk bottle bigger than himself; the other was a painted pasteboard baby costume. A crowd began to gather and soon reached such proportions that traffic was blocked and the traffic police had to be called out—lively milk-drinking advertising!

Afternoon Milk and Cookie Break

The importance of milk as food was tested out by a large yeast company. They observed that about the middle of the afternoon, their employees, numbering several hundred, showed weariness and an inability to keep the work going efficiently. To remedy this, at 3:30 every afternoon they are given a ten-minute period for relaxation and at the same time, each employee is served a glass of milk and a cookie. After a nine-month trial, the company reports: “We believe that the resulting increased health and efficiency among our employees is as high as 50%.”

Survey Says–Drink Milk

In a certain county of a state in the middle west, a survey of health conditions was made. In the rural section, the survey included 125 children. All of the families, except two kept cows, and yet only 11% of the children were drinking as much as one cup of milk each day. In a survey of a town in the same county, 136 children were included and it was found that 63% of them were drinking at least one cup of milk a day. These figures would seem to indicate that at all too many farms (in that vicinity at least) too large a part of the milk produced is sold.

Herbert Hoover, who fed 10,000,000 people (including 1,200,000 children) for four years (as director of the U.S. Food Administration), has said. “[Humans] cannot survive without the use of dairy products.” In many families, there is plenty of milk available but the children do not drink it “because they do not like it.” In practically every case this is a matter of habit. In such cases, the required amount of milk can be put into their diet in other forms such as milk soups, custards, whips, and so forth. Thousands of children who did not “like” milk at home have found that they do like it as soon as it is introduced into the school and public opinion among their playmates makes it “the thing” to drink a given amount daily.–Elizabeth Deane March


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, February 1922, Page 710; Webb Publishing, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

The Healing of Decoration Day

Hello, again History Lovers,

An editorial published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women May 1921 casts light on the emotional struggles of Americans who suffered significantly following the Civil War. Not only mourning their dead, their loss of property, and their lifestyle many languished with bitter feelings toward their recent enemy. This editorial celebrates the “olive branch” put forth slowly at first by both sides as the graves of fallen Americans began to be compassionately honored on Memorial Day whether they be “blue” or “gray”.

Living in the West, we don’t get many opportunities to actively honor Civil War veterans but after researching this article I feel a deep sense of respect for and gratitude toward the civil war soldiers’ loved ones who were able to let their hearts begin to heal in spite of their pain by showing respect for their deceased fellow Americans each year on Memorial Day.


Confederate Decoration Day Marker Columbus, Mississippi

When Memorial Day was first instituted, its principal function was to keep in mind the sacrifices of the boys in Blue. Time went on, silently eradicating prejudices and hatreds until at last, the observation of Memorial Day came to include, in the North, tributes to the Gray as well as the Blue, and in the South, tributes to the Blue as well as the Gray. Out of this unifying thought came the great day on July 1, 1913, when on the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Veterans of the 1860s, North and South, met in one great friendly encampment at Gettysburg, and there, so to speak, officially buried their differences and became brothers indeed.

Decoration Day Greeting Card 1908

This had to come to pass. The normal human mind could not have it otherwise. Sheer logic forced it to talk of “Blue” and “Gray” and “North” and “South.” We are indeed a nation, one and undivided, even on Memorial Day, which has long been a day dedicated to every American life laid down in war.

Decoration Day Greeting Card in Honor of Fallen Civil War Servicemen

Three years ago, May Thirtieth widened its solemn and sacred program to include all Americans whose blood was shed in the world struggle (WW I). And now, in 1921, this day of annual tribute would seem to have reached a climax, for it memorializes also the lives of countless thousands in other nations—men and women and little children—who innocently perished because humanity is in the throes of greed and envy which are the begetters of unholy strife.

Memorial Day 1920 Hartford, Connecticut Children honoring fallen WWI Servicemen

This evolution of Memorial Day from an observance which at first served to keep alive the old contentions of the Civil War into an observance that leads our thoughts away from our own homeland to quiet resting places in other lands across the sea is a remarkable illustration of the changeless law of change and progress. Try as it may, the human heart cannot keep its hatreds, its oppositions, its narrowness. Time, holding his hourglass, watches his worldly children climb the immortal heights of betterment. They can do no other. Whether we will or not, the quiet process of change goes right on, the wounds are healed, and the graves are grown over. We may ever so vigorously repudiate leagues, shun alliances, seek solidarity and declare ourselves forever separate from those we oppose but we and they move right on forward and upward, steadily drawing closer together, shrinking our differences, uniting our purposes, working out the divinely-implanted principle of human brotherhood. — The Editors

Wishing everyone a thoughtful and safe Memorial Weekend.

Post Civil War Memorial Day Greeting Card Souvenir

The Color of My Hat

Hello, again History Lovers,

Today’s post is a contribution submitted by Mary E. Robinson, a Clothing Specialist from the University of Missouri in May of 1922. She offers tips on choosing the appropriate color and style of hat. She advises women that if a hat has to be worn frequently it must be simple in design and inconspicuous in color. She also states that one must consider complexion, eye and hair color, personality, hairstyle, and facial features when choosing a new hat, and never should a hat be worn too far down over the eyes, too far back on the head, nor tilted too far to the side.


Illustration from The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, May 1922, Page 860

What color shall I select for my hat this season? This is indeed a serious question when there are so many new and lovely colors being shown in the shops this year. It is a temptation to try them all and have oneself look like Joseph’s “coat of many colors.”

Color is one of the most important points in selecting a becoming hat. We are told always to select a color that is “good” for our particular style of personality and not because it is merely fashionable. In doing this, we must study the coloring of complexion, eyes, and hair, and select the colors which bring out the best features and subordinate the less attractive ones. There is no such rule as we used to hear, “red for brunettes, blue for blondes.” There are many shades and tints of every color and where one may be becoming a brunette, the next should be worn by a blonde or vice versa.

When planning to combine colors on a hat, we must be sure these colors harmonize. The following are three methods of combining colors that may be used in choosing the hat.

I. The one-mode color scheme:

  • Dark blue and gray-blue
  • Brown and orange
  • Purple and lavender

II. Balanced or complementary color scheme:

  • Blue and orange
  • Red-orange and blue-green
  • Violet and yellow

In combining these colors do not choose both colors in bright shades. One should be grayed a bit.

III. Related or analogous color scheme:

  • Blue and Blue-green
  • Green and yellow-green
  • Red and red-orange

These are especially attractive combinations in hats.

It is a good plan for every woman to experiment with colors until the most becoming ones are found. Often by the addition of becoming facings (the underside of the hat brim), it may be possible to wear a hat that would otherwise be unbecoming. Bright colors such as red, yellow, orange, and the new shades of bonfire, periwinkle blue, and so forth, demand a healthy complexion and clear skin. Neutral colors are suitable for persons who are sallow or have rough skin.

Illustration of a hat with a contrasting “facing” (underside of the brim)

Grayed blues, which are less blue than the eyes, are becoming to blue-eyed people, as they emphasize the blue of the eyes. Dark blue is becoming to most people and is a good color for streetwear. Dark brown is also a color that may be generally worn. Green is a restful color and in the light tints so attractive for summer, and is particularly becoming to blondes. Black is very trying to most older women when worn next to the face. One must have plenty of color in order to wear it well. However, a white or colored facing may be used on a black and the wearer will apparently be given more color. White is almost universally becoming. Sometimes cream or oyster white is better than white.

A hat that must be worn on most occasions, should be simple in design and inconspicuous in color. As a general rule, most colors are appropriate at all times. Still, exceptional occasions rule out certain colors.

It is always safe to have a hat and dress or suit of the same color. To give variety, the hat may be a little darker or lighter, and of a different material. If bright bits of color have been used on the costume, some of these colors may be, with discrimination, repeated on the hat.

The hair must not be forgotten when selecting a hat. Have any of us ever done our hair especially to “try on” hats, and then rushed to dress for the street after the hat was purchased, failed to do our hair in the same approved fashion? After such an all-too-common experience, we are agreed that it is best to select the hat with the hair dressed in the fashion in which we are accustomed to wearing it.

When not satisfied with the present hairstyle, the profile should be studied with the aid of a hand mirror to answer the question. Does the manner in which the hair is done conform to the shape of the head and face?

The average woman should not try to keep pace with the latest style in hairstyling but select carefully the mode which best suits her individuality. A plain face is made attractive by keeping the hair soft and fluffy around the face.

Plain or “homely” features can be accentuated by the hairstyle. A receding chin may be improved with a high hairstyle since this seems to make the chin appear longer. For a pointed nose and chin, a low style is becoming. A round face may be made to appear much rounder with puffs over the ears. A woman with this type of face should choose a style that is close to the ears. The woman with the long face will find the low hair dress, which is fuller at the side, becoming.

When we visit a place of amusement, particularly an open-air affair in the summertime, we find all sorts of styles for wearing the hat. Evidently “wearing” the hat is one of the least important things to the average woman, since the hat is found at every possible angle on the head.

A hat should be worn so that both the wearer and the hat look their very best. It should not be worn so far over the face that the eyes cannot be seen. Not only is this uncomfortable to the wearer but it covers the most interesting part of the face. Neither should the hat be worn at other extremes—far back on the head or at one side.

There should be no dividing line between the hat and hair. A hat that is perched on top of the head in this manner seems insecure and truly resembles a “lid.” On the whole, it is safe to wear the hat in a straight line just above the brows. This is well illustrated in the case of the little lady at the top of this page who, seated before a mirror, is getting just the right line and angle for her new hat. We wonder if she will always place it so carefully.


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, May 1922, Page 860; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Home Demonstration Work–Hardworking Montana Women

Hello, again History Lovers,

Today we celebrate the accomplishments of hardworking farmwives from Valley County, Montana in 1920. Members of the local farm bureau focused on four areas of development for the year– sewing, gardening and canning, cheese-making, and establishing clubs in which the boys and girls learned gardening and poultry raising. The amount of meat, chicken, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and cheese preserved by these busy women was phenomenal. They even produced over 1,500 pounds of homemade soap; all while keeping up with daily meals, dishes, laundry, and housework.


Hardworking Montana Farm Women

Long distances, a dry season, and the fact that they must share their Home Demonstration Agent “fifty-fifty” with another county have not discouraged the Farm Bureau women in Valley County, Montana, nor kept them from accomplishing splendid results through organized effort.

In 1920 the women of this county started four definite lines of work: Clothing, gardening and canning, cheese-making, and boys’ and girls’ club work. There are 250 women members in the 25 communities of the County Farm Bureau and the work of the year has been carried on through county and community project leaders, with the help of Miss Gertrude Erickson, Home Demonstration Agent.

The gardening-canning work did not assume such large proportions as was expected because the extremely dry season made it difficult to raise good gardens but even so, the work done, was most worthwhile. In one group of twelve homes in the county, the families are having a more varied and healthful diet because of the 1,278 quarts of vegetables canned by the farm bureau women who entered the county garden contest.

Four clothing schools and one millinery school were held during the year. One woman was so ambitious and so eager for the work that she drove miles to attend the millinery school in one community and then later in the week drove 15 miles to attend a dress form demonstration being held in another community.

Six poultry culling demonstrations were held. In one community the members of the boys’ and girls’ poultry flocks club went out in relays and culled the poultry flocks throughout the neighborhood. So successful were they, that the women in that community report that they have not killed a single laying hen since the flocks were culled.

Altogether the Farm Bureau women in the county report:

  • 6,702 quarts of vegetables canned
  • 4,488 quarts wild and other fruit canned
  • 884 quarts of chicken canned
  • 1,488 quarts of other meat canned
  • 632 pounds of cheese made
  • 10,092 pounds of meat cured
  • 39 dress forms made
  • 1,075 dozen eggs preserved
  • 1,608 pounds of homemade soap
  • 24 schools serving hot lunches

This remarkable group of women, with the help of a Home Demonstration Agent for halftime, reported organized work amounting to $15,171. This is, of course, a minor part of the total value, for the big result of such work is in community service, better health, getting acquainted with each other—all those things that go to make the best homes and the best communities.


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, May 1921; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Two Pictures I Would Like Best To Own–Part 9

Hello, again History Lovers,

Today a farm woman from Wisconsin shares the two pictures she would love to own, both of which have implied lessons for the beholder. The first picture represents the three greatest things in life–love, work, and religion. The second painting depicts a high ideal in manhood and womanhood. Both are lovely.


Pictures That Educate

If I could afford to buy but two pictures for my home, they should be the best copies that I could afford of The Angelus by Millet and Sir Galahad by Watts. A really good picture must not merely record some incident or picture of some person or place; it must convey some truth whether it be of human nature or Mother Nature. And I know of no other pictures which so thoroughly meet that test as do the two I have chosen.

The Angelus by French Painter Jean-Francois Millet circa 1857

The Angelus. It is a beautiful picture with a beautiful lesson. A man I know, a poor farmer with little of what the world calls culture, spent several weeks in a city hospital, and on the wall at the foot of his bed was a copy of The Angelus. He said in speaking of it, “Did you ever stop to think that that picture has the three greatest things in life—love, work, and religion?” He had read the message. The Angelus dignifies the soil and the labor of the hands, it holds up the “old fashioned” ideal of love and helpfulness, and above all, it teaches the reverence due to work and their Creator.

Sir Galahad by British Artist George Fredrick Watts 1862

Sir Galahad is essentially a picture for youth. Sir Galahad of the Round Table, the perfect knight, is not so far removed from our own youth of today. They need a coat of mail, a snowy charger, they need a high ideal to lead them to clean manhood or womanhood as the knight “without flaw” who sought and achieved the Holy Grail.

There are lesser reasons for choosing these pictures. Both are out-of-door pictures that will be at home in any country home. Both are miracles of color and line. Both have educational stories connected with them. The Angelus may lead up to numerous history lessons on peasant life and so forth. There are thousands of pictures that suggest history and geography but few which educate, in the highest sense of the word, as do The Angelus and Sir Galahad. –J.V.N., Wisconsin


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, March 1923; Webb Publishing Company, St Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

When The Baby Comes 1921

Hello, again History Lovers,

In the early 1900s, over half of U.S. births took place at home with the assistance of a midwife. Some home births were attended by a doctor and/or nurse, and in some situations only the assistance of the women of the family was available. A mere ten percent of births took place in a hospital.

In an effort to better protect the health of both mother and infant, the U.S. Federal Children’s Bureau in Washington D.C. published guidelines for preparing a sanitary home environment for the birthing process. To further disperse the information The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women published the information in the May 1921 issue. Today’s post is a reprint of that article.

Preparations For A Home Birth

The importance of arranging for the best medical and nursing care available cannot be overemphasized. It is advisable to engage the doctor as early in pregnancy as possible so that he may have the case under observation and make the routine examinations of the urine and may deal at once with any negative symptoms that may arise.

It is becoming more and more common for women to go to a hospital to be confined. The hospital has many advantages over the private house at such a time, for it is cheaper, safer, and far more convenient.

If the confinement is to take place at home, however arrangements should be made for it well in advance in order to avoid haste and confusion at the last minute. It will be found that to engage a competent nurse for at least two weeks and preferably for four, is an economy in the long run.

Cooke Maternity Outfit Label circa 1920s

It is necessary to have plenty of sterile dressings ready for the doctor to use, as they are an essential precaution against the danger of infection. They should be prepared two or three weeks before the expected date of confinement. The following articles are likely to be needed:

  • Two to four pounds of absorbent cotton.
  • One large package of sterile gauze (25 yards).
  • Four rolls of cotton batting.
  • Two yards of stout muslin for abdominal binders.
  • Twelve old towels or diapers.
  • Two old sheets.
  • Two yards of bobbin, or very narrow tape, for tying the cord.
Cook’s Maternity Kit Produced by Johnson and Johnson 1920s

From these supplies, the necessary pads, bandages, and dressings are made and all are then sterilized in accordance with these exact directions which follow.

Sanitary pads. These are pads ten inches long and four inches wide which are used to absorb the discharges after the mother has been delivered. As absorbent cotton is comparatively expensive, it will be found more economical to make the greater part of each pad of cotton batting, facing one side with a layer of the absorbent kind. Cut the sterile gauze into pieces of the right size to fold around the cotton and expend two or three inches beyond it at each end. These pads should be about an inch thick, and at least five dozen will be needed. They are pinned front and back to the abdominal binder, which is simply a strip of cotton cloth twelve inches wide and long enough to be fastened comfortably around the abdomen.

Delivery pads. These pads should be a yard square and four inches thick. Cotton batting may form the principal part of the thickness but the top layer of absorbent cotton should be at least one inch thick. Make two of these pads. Cotton waste, if boiled in washing soda and dried thoroughly in the sun, makes a cheap and effective filling in place of batting but as the texture is very loose a thick layer must be used. For later use, they should be covered with old sheets which have been sterilized.

Gauze sponges. Two dozen of these will be needed. They are made by cutting sterile gauze into 18-inch lengths, the width of the gauze. Fold one raw edge down about three inches; double the strip by putting the selvage edges together, having the raw edges of the fold on the outside. Fold this into thirds both ways and turn the sponge inside out, so as to have all the raw edges inside.

Cotton pledgets. These are wads of absorbent cotton, the size of an egg, having the ends of the cotton twisted into the roll. Make several dozen and put them into a small pillowcase or cheesecloth bag.

Gauze squares. Cut fifty 4-inch squares of the gauze. These will be used to wash the baby’s eyes and for other purposes.

Bobbin. Cut ordinary cotton bobbin into six 9-inch lengths for tying the cord.

When these supplies are all made, they should be put into cheesecloth bags, for ease in handling, then sterilized.

How to sterilize. Sterilizing is the process of subjecting anything to the action of heat for a sufficient length of time to free it from all the disease germs that may be present. It is possible to sterilize the dressing in the oven but as dry heat is less effective than moist heat and there is always a danger of scorching, it is better to use steam. The smaller things may be sterilized in a large kettle or saucepan and the larger ones in the wash boiler. For the first, invert a bowl several inches high in the bottom of a perfectly clean saucepan, lay a plate on the bowl, and on the plate place the dressings which have first been put into a cheesecloth bag to facilitate handling. Put enough water to cover the bowl, and then tightly cover the kettle or saucepan. The articles must remain for one hour after the water begins to boil. They are then taken out, dried, done up in sterilized cotton cloth, and put away. They must not be removed from the bags and handled as little as possible.

A convenient method of sterilizing in the boiler is as follows: Take a strip of stout muslin that is somewhat longer than the boiler and fasten it securely to the handles of the boiler by means of a stout drawstring run through each end and, for additional security, down each side as well; the strip should hang down to about one-third the depth of the boiler. This makes a sort of hammock in which the dressings are placed. The boiler is filled about one-quarter full of water and covered tightly, and the articles are left to steam for an hour after the water begins to boil. When they are removed, they should be dried thoroughly in the sun by pinning the bags to the clothesline. If this is not possible, they can be dried in the oven, with care being taken not to burn them. When the dressings are dried, they are immediately wrapped (still left in the cheesecloth bags) in a sterilized cotton cloth or a sheet, and put away in a closed drawer and not touched or handled in any way until they are taken out for the doctor’s use.

A single metal bed and a comfortable mattress are the best. The ordinary double bed is very inconvenient as it is too wide and too low. If a low bed must be used, it may easily be elevated by putting blocks, 6 or 8 inches high, under the four legs, first removing the casters so that there will be no danger of the bed slipping off. If the mattress sags in the middle a board or two may be placed across the bed to support it. The bed should be placed in such a position that both the doctor and the nurse can get at it at once and so that a good light falls upon it both in the daytime and at night.

In making the bed for the delivery, the under sheet which is put on over the mattress pad should be folded under at the four corners and pinned securely to the mattress with safety pins. A piece of rubber sheeting or oilcloth, which has first been wiped on both sides with a cloth wet in some antiseptic solution, should then be placed across the middle of the bed, and over this, a sheet folded once lengthwise. In taking care of the patient, it will be found far easier to change this drawsheet than to change the under-sheet that covers the whole mattress. If desired, a pad made of several thicknesses of newspaper done up in an old sheet that has been sterilized may be used instead of the oilcloth.

The things to be kept in mind in connection with all preparations for confinement are the necessity for the best medical and nursing care available and the prime importance of absolute cleanliness. Everything possible should be done to prevent any infection. What is commonly called childbed fever is a wholly preventable disease. Its causes and the measures necessary to prevent it are well known, and skilled medical and nursing care reduce to a minimum the possibility of its occurrence.


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, May 1921, Page 452; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Neighborhood Activities–Recreation for Single Women 1921

Hello, again History Lovers,

In a post titled What Is a Home Demonstration Agent? we learned about the important responsibilities home agents had in educating rural housewives about their domestic duties. In another post, Home Demonstration Agent Saves Lives we see that these hardworking agents extended their parameters by helping fill other needs within their area of jurisdiction. Today’s article demonstrates how one agent saw a need for appropriate recreation for a growing segment of the population–the young single professional woman.


Young Single Businesswomen

Switchboard Workers 1920s

To help solve the recreational problem in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, Miss Jane Hinote, Home Demonstration Agent, organized a businesswoman’s club. Miss Hinote had lived in the county for ten months and had found no form of amusement for the girls other than movies. Eighteen charter members of the club included teachers, nurses, secretaries, stenographers, saleswomen, doctors, and newspaper women. They met together one evening each week in the high school gymnasium. Each member is charged fifty cents annual dues and this provides funds for an athletic instructor and a musician. Athletics, games, and folk dances offer a variety of amusement.

Recreational Activities

Last summer the club members rented a house about a mile and a half out in the country. Some of the girls donated old furniture and others money and the clubhouse looked most inviting when it was finished and ready for occupancy. Sundays were the popular days at the clubhouse, The girls divided themselves into groups so that each Sunday one group acted as hostesses preparing and serving a good Sunday dinner. The afternoons were spent in general good times such as hikes, picnics, boating, and swimming parties.

Dance Competition 1920

During the fall the girls held dancing parties and invited their friends. These were so successful that two benefit dances were planned at which they cleared $150. At Christmas time a Christmas tree was the gift of the club members to the poor children of the neighborhood, each member donating a toy and a warm garment—a cap, stockings, mittens, or sweater. Later these enterprising girls staged a play under professional direction which was repeated in three different localities in the county.

Received Into the National Professional Business Women’s Club

The club has recently been received into the National Professional and Business Women’s Club. The membership has grown to fifty-five and the girls have just opened a new clubhouse in town. A matron is employed to keep the house in running order and act as hostess. One Sunday each month is an open house for the townspeople. The clubhouse has become a center where the girls are learning to know and enjoy each other and their neighbors.

The girls in Jackson, Mo., have recently organized a similar club with a membership of thirty. Both clubs are becoming interested in activities of an educational nature and Miss Hinote says that “if they take hold of the educational work as they have of the recreational, they will be a power in the community.”


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, May 1921, Page 446; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Two Pictures I Would Like Best To Own Series–Part 8

Hello, again History Lovers,

Today’s post includes two paintings that were so popular in the 1920s that they have already been featured in previous posts in this series. However, the story of the acquisition of the first painting, Morning by Jean-Baptist-Camille Corot by farm wife Mrs. C.H.B from Iowa demonstrates her love and appreciation for this piece of art. Sadly the available images of this prolific French artist’s paintings are of such poor quality that it is difficult to see the true beauty of his work. We will have to trust in Mrs. B’s lovely critique.

The second painting is by one of the immortal Italian High Renaissance artists, Raphael. I have also included two high-quality photos showing some of the minute detail in the painting Madonna and Child. I particularly appreciate the intricacy of Madonna’s hair. Although Mrs. B only owned a postcard size copy of this painting at the time of her writing, she reports that it engenders in her the spiritual inspiration to “carry on”. I hope that at some point in her life she was able to acquire a sizeable copy to hang on her wall.


An Inspiration To Carry On

Morning by French Landscape Painter, Camille Corot ca. 1860

The picture which has the place of honor in my farm home is a reproduction of Corot’s landscape often called Morning. It is full of the calm tranquility found in all the artist’s pictures, a lovely scene most attractive for the delicacy of foliage and the transparency of air and water. The figures who I suppose to be a mother and child intent upon gathering blossoms and leaves seem to have a unity of purpose, to be in perfect harmony with each other, and certainly, are in harmony with the rest of the picture. Although I have lived seven years with this picture over my mantel, I have never grown the least tired of it as I have several others I own and I always find new satisfaction and pleasure in looking upon it. I hope that old age will be kind enough to allow me a seat in my own inglenook with his picture still hanging above the fireplace.

Incidentally, I prize my particular copy of Morning all the more because I carried it home from London in my hands through a stormy, perilous voyage in September 1914. Because I loved the picture so much, I wanted to make sure to have a good reproduction of it. So, I brought it home wrapped carefully in a steamer-rug and shawl strap and would entrust it to no one else’s keeping but my own.

La Belle Jardiniere (aka Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist) 1507 by Italian High Renaissance artist Raphael

The other picture of my choice I own only a postcard form but should be most happy to have on my walls for I know that my children could not help but love it—Raphael’s La Belle Jardiniere. Who can resist the darling babies of this picture? And what mother but would wish to be a better mother after a study of the gentle features of Mary, the mother of the Christ Child, who looks up at her in perfect confidence? It seems to be a lesson in divine love and patience—something which a good many farm mothers with several babies and much to do, sadly need. (This is not meant for a sermon—I was merely referring to myself!) I love the naturalness of this little group—the Madonna looking fondly down on the Beloved Child and little Saint John regarding him adoringly. To me, the pictures offer an inspiration that I should like to share with my family and with all who come into my home.

La Belle Jardiniere by Raphael detail
La Belle Jardiniere by Raphael detail

These pictures give me something which a busy, workaday life does not always afford, a restful satisfaction and spiritual inspiration to “carry on” to the best of one’s ability. Such I should think is the chief mission of pictures on our walls—to give us something we should be loath to miss and to remind us of wonders that we might otherwise forget. –Mrs. C.H.B., Iowa


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, March 1923, Page 359; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

The Rising Popularity of Roadside Markets

From Strawberry Preserves to Maple Sugar

Hello, again History Lovers,

After falling head over heels in love with the automobile, Americans began road-tripping. And it wasn’t long before rural entrepreneurs found a way to market farm products to passersby. Farmers built stands and started selling homegrown produce from roadside markets, very much like farmer’s markets of today. Some were small with just a few products for sale and others were cooperatives supplied by a number of local farmers offering many different farm products, and of course, all were seasonal.

Mrs. Bess M. Rowe, a journalist for The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women contributed an article in February 1922 on the thriving roadside market industry in Massachusetts. Orchards in the Mt. Nobscot area supplied peaches, apples, and pears for local markets. Area farmers produced strawberries, vegetables, eggs, honey, and dairy products. Some handmade home goods were also available.

Farmer’s market season in my area begins in June and goes through September. After reading this article I will better appreciate the “living history” aspect of today’s farmer’s markets.


Massachusetts has ideal conditions for the development of roadside markets. Its numerous towns and cities are connected by splendid state roads which make transportation of products easy and also summon a steady stream of automobiles over these roads.

An astonishing variety of products is disposed of by the owners of these roadside markets, anything and everything from strawberry preserves to roastin’ ears, from maple sugar to braided rugs; passing directly from producer to consumer.

Massachusetts road markets are, naturally, concentrated in a few districts where the conditions are especially favorable. One group is located on the historic road from Concord to Lexington, where a constant procession of automobiles follows the route taken by Paul Revere on his famous ride; another group extends along the coast, south of Quincy.

Good Location and Great Produce

In planning to open a roadside market, certain points in location must be considered if the enterprise is to be a success. As the main dependence is on automobile trade, the market must be located on a road where automobile traffic is heavy and at a point where automobiles can easily park.

Another important point is such arrangement of products and signs or placards to attract the favorable attention of passersby. The most successful stands in Massachusetts have done this by means of attractive signs placed far enough away from the purchasing place so that cars can slow down before reaching the stand. These are often supplemented by signs at the stand itself. Many of these signs are most ingenious and attractive. What honey lover could resist an appeal like this:

Direct selling of farm produce in Massachusetts has been a great success, in many cases, and the plans followed by these marketers can be adapted with equal success in thousands of other places. The main requirements are: to find the right location and furnish what the people want, with due regard for honesty of purpose and for the other fellow’s rights as well as one’s own.

Roadside markets differ as widely as individual stores. Some offer only early or fancy stock. Some maintain an average standard and sell at an average price. As a matter of fact, each one must be adapted to its own locality, giving its own “public” what its own public demands. If the woman of the farm offering goods for sale has the time, she is the best one to deal with women buyers. Her woman’s imagination will stand her in good stead as to ways to make her wares attractive and ways to reach her customers’ minds. There are no set rules to be laid down. Given the good location and sufficient good produce, wits, and industry, tact and patience must do the rest.

Nobscot Mountain Orchard and Roadside Market

This summer the writer had the pleasure of visiting one of the most interesting, as well as one of the most successful roadside markets in Massachusetts, the one connected with the famous Nobscot Mountain Orchards, twenty-three miles from Boston. This fruit farm of eighty acres has 3,000 peach trees, 4,000 apple trees, 1,200 pear trees, and 2,500 quince trees. In 1915, 1916, and 1917, the market specialized in peaches and in these three years took in respectively $1,700, $1,300, and $ 3,400. In 1918 apples, preserves and jellies were added to the list and now in addition to all these, a charming tearoom caters to the comfort of guests the year around.

Current photo of the William Hagar House built circa 1730, home of the Mt. Nobscot Tearoom in the 1920s.

Mt. Nobscot Tea Room

The Mt. Nobscot Tea Room itself is worthy of a whole story. It is in the Hagar House, a historic residence built about 1730. The atmosphere of “the good, old days” has been wonderfully preserved in the old house. The tired motorist who has been attracted by the well-arranged market stand on one side of the road is now tempted to cross over to the tearoom and enjoy tea and a salad, or one of the more substantial dishes which are fast gaining fame for this happily located business.

The front door opens directly into the tearoom, a large colonial room with an enormous four-sided fireplace set diagonally so that each grate faces a corner. On one side there is a Dutch oven. The mantels and cupboards above the grates proclaim their many years of usage.

The back of the house itself is an old porch with a brick floor. Vines grow over it and here the tearoom guest who prefers a garden setting rather than in the house is served.

For the last two years, Mrs. Smerage has had charge of the tearoom. She cans and preserves a portion of the products that are shown in the roadside market stand across the way. During the War, Mrs. Smerage had charge of a community canning kitchen in Topsfield Massachusetts. The exceptionally high standard maintained in this particular kitchen, where they had less than 1% spoilage, won fame for her and after the war work closed, she started work for herself. Two years ago, she had to choose between putting her capital into her business or using it for her son’s education. She chose the latter and came to the Mt. Nobscot fruit farm to take charge of the canning work there and act as manager of the tearoom.

Mrs. Smerage says that the success that has come to her in all her work is due to the high quality she insists on maintaining. At the Mt. Nobscot Orchards, they do not try to sell the first-class fruit and then make quality canned and preserved products from culls. They reverse this order and make all of their canned and preserved stock from first-class products, and this method enables them to sell the products for a fancy price. They know that people will pay a high price for food products if they feel that they are getting their money’s worth. In 1920, Mrs. Smerage supervised the canning and preserving of $1,050 worth of strawberries alone. In 1921, in spite of a bad season, the amount of their strawberry products went up to about $1,400.

Strawberries for sale at a Roadside Stand

The tearoom enables the proprietors to keep business going the year around. The market stand, of course, is open only during the summer months. Although their farm produces only fruit for the market, they show a good variety of vegetables and other products at the stand. These are secured from the neighboring farmers, thus offering them a market for their products and at the same time giving a greater variety and better appearance to the stand. Altogether there is on this farm a well-rounded business that last year sold products amounting to over $12,500. — Bess M. Rowe


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, February 1922, Page 709; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Plan Your Garden For Year Round Produce

Hello, again History Lovers,

Planning a kitchen garden to grow enough for a family’s immediate needs as well as plenty to be preserved against the scarcity of winter and early spring is the advice offered by The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women in February 1922. Self-reliance was essential for farm families in order to feed themselves throughout the year. Every ounce of the garden produce was eaten fresh, stored in a root cellar, canned, dried, or pickled. Any scraps were fed to the chickens. Nothing was wasted.

One hundred years later my husband and I have tried to live a self-reliant lifestyle. He is an avid gardener and I am an avid canner. We made a good team especially when our children were growing up. What he didn’t grow, we bought from local orchards and farmers to can, freeze (an option that was only available during the winter months a century ago), and dehydrate. Since it is just the two of us now, we are trying to cut back on what we produce and preserve. My husband has a smallish garden spot tilled and is anxious to start planting. Too bad it snowed again last night.


A Cook’s Lament

“I can’t find anything to cook!” “I don’t know what to plan for meals at this time of year!” These are mutual complaints during this season wherever two or three farm housewives are gathered together. Now, while there is still time to plan for a kitchen garden is time to prevent this food famine from recurring next year.

Lay Out Your Garden

Vintage Seed Packets 1920

After the long winter months, we all crave crisp green food and these are the first seeds we sow—lettuce, radishes, onions. Then we plant for summer days. But all too often we do not, in laying out gardens, think in terms of the late winter and early spring weeks that inevitably come when “it is so hard to find anything to cook.”

Can, Dry and Brine Vegetables

In forecasting our gardens, we must keep three very definite things in mind: (1) we must plant for the summer season when we can practically live from the garden; (2) for the early winter when it is possible to have a pleasing variety from the root vegetables that have been stored in the cellar; (3) lastly, for the late winter months when stored vegetables have lost their crispness and flavor and it is still too early to have the fresh things. The easiest way to meet this third provision is to plant a surplus of summer vegetables which are to be canned or dried or brined for winter use. The women whose shelves are thus stocked are not among those who lift their voices in the wail, “I can’t find anything to cook!”


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, February 1922, Page 745; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.