Women’s Club Markets 1921

Hello, again History Lovers,

In an effort to help struggling farm women supplement their farm income, Home Demonstration Agents encouraged women to not only grow gardens for their own sustenance but to grow more than what the family needed. The excess could then be marketed in a new way. It would be brought to a designated place in town, put on display, and sold directly to consumers. These Women’s Club Markets, the equivalent to Farmer’s Markets of today, began popping up everywhere on a regular basis. One woman recalls the work involved in preparing for a farmer’s market in Minnesota when she was a youth:

“Vegetables had to be cut, pulled, picked, or dug. Then they had to be loaded and carried to the yard where they were trimmed, bunched, washed, and arranged to be taken to market the following day – until the 1920s by horse and wagon; later by truck. The trip to either Minneapolis or St. Paul market was several miles. This meant getting up at 4:00 am.”

–Edna Greenberg Reasoner


The Nineteenth Women’s Club Market

The Councils of Farm Women in South Carolina, together with their Home Demonstration Agents established nineteen women’s club markets in the state. The newest market is in Bennettsville, the county seat of Marlboro County. Last spring the County Council of Farm Women was organized under the leadership of Home Demonstration Agent, Miss Edna Earle. Because of the financial crisis that the county (as with all rural areas) was facing, the council decided that the first thing to do was to organize a market that would take care of the surplus produced on the farms of the county and at the same time provide fresh produce to the people of the town.

A marketing committee was appointed which then had a conference with the superintendent of public schools and the mayor of the town. These men agreed to put the matter before the town council, composed of progressive men, and it was decided to build a market house on the Court House Square. The building is now a most attractive reality. It is substantially built, neatly screened, and conveniently equipped with shelves and counters.

Garden Campaign

Growing large gardens for sustenance and for additional income.

While this house was being built, the club women of the county were not idle, as the enterprising home demonstration agent was putting on a perennial garden campaign in order that the market might be supplied with fresh vegetables all year round. Fruits and vegetables were being canned and other preparations were underway to make the Home Demonstration Club Market a permanent institution of Marlboro County.

Gala Event

The opening of the market was a gala day in Bennettsville, being ushered into existence under most auspicious circumstances, enthusiastically supported by both the town and country people. Mrs. Frances Y. Kline, State Marketing Specialist, was present to assist in making the occasion a successful one. S.E. Evans, County Farm Agent, was also there materially promoting the enterprise. A number of prominent club women, including the president of the county council, were in attendance. The market house was beautifully decorated with flowers and ferns. Fresh vegetables, fruit, chickens, eggs, meats, and other country products were temptingly displayed. Although the market did not open till ten o’clock, by noon everything was disposed of, and the money was being checked out to the producers by the secretary.


The Two Pictures I Would Like Best To Own Series–Part 10

Hello, again History Lovers,

Today’s post concludes The Two Pictures I Would Like Best To Own series. This letter-writing campaign was sponsored by The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women in 1923. Women were asked to write in and tell about the pictures that grace the walls of their homes. A few pictures were stately portraits, some were bucolic landscapes and many were dynamic religious-themed events. The quality of the pictures that the women owned ranged from pages cut from magazines to postcards to high-quality images carried from London rolled in a steamer rug across the ocean. All brought beauty and joy to the women who submitted letters.

The Farmer’s Wife only published ten of the hundreds of letters received in their office, however, they did include a list of a few of the works of art that were mentioned in the unpublished letters. I have posted several of them below. My hope is that everyone has been able not only to enjoy the artwork in this series but has been able to appreciate the sentiments expressed as well.

My Honor Pictures

The Sistine Madonna by Italian High Renaissance Painter Raphael 1513

When we were children at home, my mother who, though of very limited schooling, was an extremely well-educated and rarely cultured woman, used to play with us a game called “Artists,” something like the game of “Authors.” Four miniature reproductions of paintings by one artist constituted a “book.” Through this simple medium, we acquired a familiarity with and an instinctive love for some of the best pictures. Thus, it was, with no hesitation, I chose as the first picture for my own home, a good copy of the Sistine Madonna. At that time, I could not buy even the simplest of scrim curtains for the windows of the room in which it hung but there was no question in my mind as to the comparative value of pictures or curtains—I simply could not imagine a living room without the Sistine Madonna. It is gospel on canvas and I feel that it is truly inspired by the love of God as John’s Gospel. Every hour we spend in our living room, the serene influence of the benign faces of the Holy Mother and Child is over us. No child who grows up loving them quite can fail to love what is good and pure and holy.

Mona Lisa by Renaissance Artist Leonardo da Vinci circa 1503

The second, I should select which I have, is the one which to me best portrays the splendor of Leonardo da Vinci’s soul. It is one which in my younger days and immature understanding, I rather disliked and feared but now the “inscrutable smile” of Mona Lisa is to me Leonardo’s philosophy of life. That smile seems to say, “These petty trappings, the pomp, the vanities of life are but the play of puppets. This little span of mortality is given thee to strive to make a soul fit to be the understanding, comprehending, sympathetic companion of God in the loveliness of His Heaven. Creation! That is all that matters.”

My home, from nursery to kitchen, is full of pictures, masterpieces all, but these two, the Sistine Madonna and the Mona Lisa, hold supremely the place of honor. –Mrs. I.L.M., Kentucky

Below are examples of artwork including the image of a statue mentioned in some of the unpublished letters to The Farmer’s Wife:

Can’t You Talk by English Artist George Augustus Holmes (1826–1911)
The Horse Fair by French Artist Rosa Bonheur circa 1852
Age of Innocence by English Artist Sir Joshua Reynolds circa 1788
Nativity (aka The Holy Night, aka Adoration of the Shepherds) by Italian Painter Antonio da Correggio circa 1529
Abraham Lincoln: The Man (aka Standing Lincoln) by American Sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens circa 1885
The Transfiguration (the final work) of Italian Renaissance Artist Raphael circa 1516

Filling The Hope Chest in the 1920s

Hello, again History Lovers,

The month of June takes its name from the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter and goddess of femininity and fertility. Ancient tradition says that to marry in June is for the couple to be blessed with happiness throughout life.

One hundred years ago, in preparation for a life of wedded bliss, it was necessary for the bride-to-be, beginning in her early teen years, to prepare a hope chest filled with items necessary to establish a home–everything from aprons to lingerie. These items were usually home-sewn and embellished with intricate needlework.

Today’s post gives us a detailed description of what the ideal hope chest of the 1920s would contain.


Grandmother’s Dowry Box

Hope Chest Illustration The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women April 1922

In the days of our great-great-great grandparents, the daughters of a household began early in their teens to prepare their dowry boxes.

In those days it was considered most regrettable if any girl reached an eligible age for marriage without a dowry box well filled, if not overflowing, with all sorts of bedding and table linen as well as a more-than-generous supply of undergarments; and with the scarcity of sewing machines, it was necessary to begin work long before the immediate need.

This old custom reappears now in the “Hope Chest,” or as one young woman rather discouragingly confided to me, “The Lord Only Knows When Chest.”

Home Furnishings

First, let us consider just what is expected of the bride in the way of house furnishings. Circumstances will always alter cases and the mode of life to be followed and the probable income of the newly formed household should guide the bride-elect in her selection of materials, styles, and amounts.

The following list is suggestive of the supplies usually provided by the bride and furnishes an adequate quantity of the essentials for the new home though more may be desirable in many instances.

  • 6 sheets if only one bed. This allows for a makeshift bed in cases of emergency.
  • 4 sheets for each bed if more than one bed of different sizes.
  • 3 sheets for each bed if more than one bed but all of the same size.
  • 2 pillows for each bed.
  • 3 pillowcases for each pillow.
  • 1 mattress pad for each bed.
  • 1 pair of blankets for each bed. If only one bed, an extra pair should be provided for emergencies.
  • 1 spread for each bed.
  • 1 comforter for each bed.
  • 6 face towels per person.
  • 6 bath towels per person.
  • 2 washable bathroom rugs.
  • 3 washcloths per person.
  • 2 scarfs for each dresser or chiffonier.
  • Curtains and rugs for bedrooms.
  • 3 changes for the dining room table.
  • 3 changes of napkins per week per person.
  • 2 runners for the buffet.
  • 6 glass and silver towels, linen crash preferred.
  • 6 tea towels. Hemmed flour sacks are excellent.
  • 6 kitchen hand towels.
  • 6 dishcloths and mop rags.
  • 3 kettle holders, large and soft.
  • 1 laundry bag.
  • 1 ironing board pad and two cover sheets.

Additional items which are not absolutely essential but are very nice to have and make nice gifts for the chest are:

Hot pads, tray cloths, luncheon cloths, luncheon sets, tea napkins, centerpieces, guest towels, silverware cases, toast, muffin and hot roll covers, dust protection cases for napkins, doilies, centerpieces and tablecloths, dust protectors for suits and dresses, cushions of various shapes and sizes and table runners for living room or library.

Referring first to the house furnishing list. There is no material equal to linen for gloss, freshness, and smoothness of appearance after laundering and no material wears so well for table coverings as a good quality firmly woven double damask. A good quality damask, however, is preferable to the poor quality of the double. The price of a patterned cloth exceeds that of the same quality bought by the yard.

Vintage Embroidered Bridge Set

One should have at least one good linen cloth with napkins to match if it is possible, but there are so very many attractive methods of covering the table now that if one’s purse is limited one should make a few observations in an art needlecraft shop, use a bit of ingenuity and work out something quite original and individualistic in inexpensive luncheon cloths, center runners or doily sets.

Vintage Linens

The oblong plate doilies with a square centerpiece or central runners have superseded the round doily sets in popularity for the time being. These, made in natural colored linen with a buffet scarf to match, are very effective and can be developed in either the Italian drawnwork, cross-stitch design, and rolled hems or in the appliqued motifs. Unbleached muslin is often used for these but for table purposes, it is an unwise selection of material, for its close weave makes it extremely difficult to remove the stains so apt to appear at meals. A more loosely woven cotton material such as shrunk cotton or Indian Head should be used if linen is impossible.


More Clothes For Less Money

You can save half the cost of your own and your children’s clothes by making them of Indian Head (a superior muslin fabric with a linen texture). This attractive white material is ideal for summer dresses because of its unusual qualities. It cost one-third as much as linen, doesn’t wrinkle easily, and keeps clean for an unusually long time.

Dainty touches on your gowns are easily made, as this fabric is just right for smocking, drawn work, or any other embroidery.

The splendid quality of Indian Head has been proved through eighty years of use by its many happy purchasers. Include yourself in their number when you do your summer shopping. Have your dealer show you the trademark Indian Head stamped upon the selvage of the cloth so that you may know that you are getting the genuine Indian Head.

Linen is also best for towels if one can afford it, as it is soft and very absorbent in the looser weaves. Cheap linen is preferable to finer cotton for towels if one is looking for service rather than appearance.

The marking of the household linens is usually done by the bride before marriage and with her own initials. If she should desire to have the initials of her future husband used, the linen is left unmarked until after the wedding ceremony has been performed.

If the new home has already been selected, so that the size of the rooms and the number of windows and their sizes can be determined, it is usually considered customary for the bride to furnish the curtains for the bedrooms, bathroom, and kitchen. These usually follow the color scheme of the bedding and towels if one has put a note of color in them. The unbleached muslin with applique motifs in sateen works up nicely here and is more practical than in the dining room as the laundering is less frequent. The tiny figured percales that have just come into the market are a little newer and are very pretty for valances, side drapes, and spreads. Touches of black help wonderfully to set them off. Dotted Swiss with pique borders is extremely dainty if one wishes to emphasize daintiness. Basket cloth combines very well with the colored ginghams and percales for a spread, having a nice weight and attractive weave.

Clothing and Lingerie

The bride should be provided with a good street costume and outfit suitable for travel, church, shopping, and calling; one outfit appropriate for informal home entertaining; three house dresses; plenty of aprons; such amount of lingerie and hosiery as she is accustomed to using during a season.

Satin Teddie 1920s

For the bride’s lingerie, it is nice to have sets as well as individual pieces. Farmer’s Wife Patterns Nos. 9552 and 9588 combine prettily and would be lovely made up in a flesh color, bound with a tiny narrow binding of the soft French blue. Nainsook can be procured in delicate shades as well as silk, so any sized purse can be easily accommodated. Orchid and maize make another soft, delicate combination. Farmer’s Wife Pattern No. 8660 is a very practical one and can be modified and varied in many attractive ways. The illustration shows a teddy with a rounded dip in the front prettily worked out in pongee with drawn threads and rambler rose embroidery.

 Do not slight the house dresses and work aprons for the trousseau. These are indeed the most important feature of the chest for it is in these that probably two-thirds of your future time will be spent.

Select the lines of the dresses, and the colors and textures of the materials with the greatest care. Use all the ingenuity you are able to muster to make these as original and individualistic as you possibly can. The illustrations will perhaps give you some suggestions as to how to apply your needle to the very best advantage. The use of wool for embroidering is most effective as an artist’s finish. –Georgia Belle Elwell


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, April 1922, Page 818; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

The Agricultural Crisis of the 1920s

Hello, again History Lovers,

As the cost of living rose in the 1920s it was public opinion that the increase was the fault of the farmers. Today’s post comes from an article published in The Farmer’s Wife in which The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture speaks to the National League of Women Voters in the spring of 1922 debunking the logic of this perception and pointing out the plight of U.S. farmers. The paragraph below is a brief outline of the circumstances that led to the Agricultural Crisis of the 1920s:

WWI U.S. Department of Agriculture Propaganda Poster 1918

As WWI raged, war-torn Europe was desperate for commodities from the United State to feed its people. This demand was a boon for American farmers. To meet Europe’s needs the U.S. government encouraged farmers to plow more land and grow more food. About the time the U.S. actively joined the war in Europe, Congress had passed the Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916 by which farmers could acquire long-term farm expansion loans. And borrow they did! Farmers borrowed to buy land, tractors, and other labor-saving equipment, riding the wave of prosperity through the war years expecting that the prices and demand would stay steady. However, as Europe recovered, the need for U.S. exports diminished, surpluses grew and prices plummeted, beginning what would come to be referred to as the Agricultural Crisis of the 1920s.

The Cost of Living For Farmers–1920s

Farming with a gas-powered tractor. Pennsylvania 1920

The fact is becoming generally recognized that the cost of living, so far as food products are concerned, is due to the expense of distribution and the cost of service; the farmer is absolved from blame as a profiteer.

–The Editors, Farmer’s Wife Magazine

The Secretary of Agriculture, Henry C. Wallace, in an address before the National League of Women Voters in Baltimore, presented some interesting facts from the farmer’s side of the cost-of-living problem. According to the most careful estimates, for such necessities as food, shelter, clothing, fuel, and light, the family budget of the average wage earner is distributed as follows:

  • 43.1 percent for food
  • 13.2 percent for clothing
  • 17.7 percent for shelter
  • 5.6 percent for fuel and light
  • 20.6 percent for sundries

Comparing the cost of these commodities in March 1922 with July 1914, it was found that food, the largest item in the family budget cost 42 percent more than in 1914, shelter about 65 percent more, clothing 54 percent, fuel and light 77 percent, sundries 74 percent. The only conclusion from these statistics is that the farmer suffers from but is not the cause of the cost of living. Transportation, wages, distribution, and service—these are the sore spots that need treatment.

In the words of the Secretary of Agriculture, “city consumers have gotten into the habit of insisting that it is the farmer’s sacred duty to produce. The corollary to this is that it is the distributors and consumer’s sacred duty to distribute efficiently and use most intelligently what the farm produces.” The farmer is looking at the cost-of-living problem just now from a position where he is receiving less than pre-war prices for the commodities, he has to sell but is paying 50 to 75 percent more than pre-war prices for the things he has to buy. The cost of living should come down but there is no possibility of starting with the farmer. Cheapening the farm-selling price of food products harms the farmer and helps no one except the middleman, the organized workman, and the profiteer who simply pockets the toll taken from the farmer.


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women 1922, Page 3; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

The Twelve Greatest Things Series–Friendship

Twelve Greatest Things In Life

Twelve is a number that stands out strangely in sacred literature: Twelve Jewish tribes – twelve disciples – the gates and foundations of the New Jerusalem are numbered as twelve. Twelve months in the year – “a dozen” is a common unit of calculation. So why not twelve “greatest things” in human life?

–The Editors, The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, June 1926

Hello, again History Lovers,

Today’s post is the sixth installment in the Twelve Greatest Things in Life series. The topic is friendship.



I have been called the great sheltering tree in a selfish world. Some have said that I am the wine of life. I know that I am one soul in two bodies. I am Love without alters, vows and veils. Only those whom I unite are really married. Love dies where I do not enter. No man and woman can live as God intended unless I blend into high and holy meaning the attractions between them. Love’s desire is the hot flame that burns first about the wood in the grate. I am the lasting embers that warm the household.

While my wings may not seem so beautiful as those of Love, they sustain me longer and hold me closer to the earth. I am rarer than what is commonly called Love, for Love begins and, alas! Too often ends with the body. I am the high quality of the soul.

I teach people how to show their best natures to others. I am, in truth, Nature’s greatest masterpiece. There is no literature worthy of the name through whose warp I do not weave my golden woof. I knitted together the souls of David and Jonathan, of Damon and Pythias. Heaven can send to two souls no greater gift than me.

The young, because they are young, cast me away lightly. They think I am as cheap as dirt. They confuse me with Acquaintanceship and with Attraction. Those in middle life grow more careful about me. The aged treasure me above rubies.

Men may nod to thousands; they may speak to hundreds; they may commune with tens; thrice lucky is the man who at sixty years can count three real friends.

I hold the cup called Solace at the feast of life. I keep both joy and sorrow from becoming solitary. I know the alchemic secret whereby I can make infirmities sweet when mutually borne. I teach men that no load in life is unbearable when a friend’s shoulders share the burden.

I am the chief ornament of any home. Every material adornment is but a tinseled gewgaw unless I am there. Oh, that men were wise enough to keep down the weeds from the paths that lead to the houses of their friends!

I am not cheap. Really, I am as expensive as Love. I demand long years of loyal service and the bearing of many burdens. In return, I give to men joys that are worth as much as health, wealth, or labor.

If you give heed to my words of wisdom, you never will slight me, never use me for selfish ends, never lie about your intentions, bicker or quarrel over gain, or lead me tied into the marketplace. If you do these things, I shall quickly desert you.

The ancients who believed that “wine, women, and song” were the most precious gifts of the gods, were wrong. Unless I am present in all the associations of human beings, wine inebriates, women destroy and song lends itself to inhumanity.

My roots live only in the soul of mutual self-respect. Well, did Emerson say of me:

“A day for toil, an hour for sport,

But for a friend, a life’s too short.”

In the Book of Books, it is written of me, “Thine own friend and thy Fathers’ forsake not,” The Master said to those who loved him, “I call ye not servants, but friends.”

To those who would really live, I give this recipe. I guarantee it shall never fail you if you follow it: “IF YOU WISH A FRIEND, BE ONE.”–Dr. John W. Holland


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, June 1926, Page 328; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.