The Ideal Farm Home II

This post is the second installment in a three-part series on the Ideal Farm Home competition sponsored by THE FARMER’S WIFE MAGAZINE October 1926. Farm women were asked to describe what would make a farmhouse perfect. Running water was at the top of the list, along with a special washroom for the men, a well-lighted sewing room, a “living porch” and a sizeable dining area. The living room was considered the “heart of the house” at that time, and to be considered ideal it must have easy access to good books and music. As I have transcribed these articles, I have felt especially thankful for all the modern conveniences that I usually take for granted. Happy Reading!


Part II

OUR readers, of course, practically are unanimous in demanding running water as the greatest single labor-saver – lifesaver indeed! – for the farmhouse.

An almost unanimous demand is for a special washroom for the men as they come in from their outside work. Usually, they suggest that this washroom be in connection with the laundry and so arranged that the men can go straight from it to the dining room or living room without having to go through the kitchen. It also provides a place for outside wraps, overshoes, mittens where they will be dry and warm and – out of the kitchen.

If farm women have pet peeves, the chief seems to be concerning the decoration of the kitchen walls with wraps and having men tramping the kitchen at mealtime.

A well-lighted sewing room is considered an essential and on the first floor so that the work can easily be picked up in odd minutes between other jobs.

Several women suggested a regular sewing cabinet built in the wall, with drawers below for supplies, a drop-leaf door which can be used for a cutting table, drawers and pigeonholes for small sewing supplies in the upper part. Of course, they say, the sewing room must have a good light.

Porches were discussed from all angles. Some farm women think their real living porch should be at the side of the house with only a small entry to the house in the front; others, wish the front porch for their summer living room. A back porch, fairly large and well-screened, is considered a real necessity. Many suggest that it be glassed in for winter use.

The living room was spoken of over and over as “the heart of the house” and farm women insist that it must be exactly what that name indicates, though they differ as to just how this shall be brought about. Nearly all of them do mention two things toward this end – books and music without which family life, farm women, are not complete. The value of good pictures is distinctly recognized. Farm women, almost without exception, do not consider home complete unless there are flowers, winter, and summer. So, they say they must have a glassed-in porch or fernery in front of the window in the living room, or give them wide window sills, even in the kitchen, for their beloved flower pots.

The dining alcove or the separate dining room – this subject was discussed thoroughly. More than 81% of the women who entered the contest say that the farm home needs a separate dining room large enough so that the table can be spread to accommodate guests and extra hands such as threshers and silo fillers. And they say the dining room should be big enough so that children need not wait until the second table or eat in the kitchen when the friends and relatives gather in for holiday celebrations. Some of them solve this problem by having an opening between the dining and living rooms sufficiently large so that the table can be extended into both rooms.

But while nearly all the women wish a separate dining room, they say it is handy to eat in the kitchen at times and opinion is about equally divided between the dining alcove and a kitchen arranged to accommodate a meal table. Some say the alcove interferes less with the routine kitchen work and makes less “mess” in the kitchen and that it is most convenient to have it fitted up so that it is partially set off from the main part of the kitchen and still a part of the room. It is used for the breakfast of those who have to rise very early and then for the breakfast of the little folks who sleep later; for men who come in late to meals or for the occasional guest who is served a lunch between meals. Several spoke of using the alcove as a play nook for the children, where they can cut, paste, sew and carry on their other small affairs and be “out from underfoot.” Several suggest that the seats in this alcove be built as chests or boxes to accommodate playthings.

The farm dining room is used as the informal sitting room of the family, so, our readers suggest that it should have plenty of room not only for the usual dining-room furniture but also for a couch where Father and Mother can stretch out when they have a minute and where Baby can have his afternoon nap. A number speak of a built-in desk here; of this room’s use as a study room in the evening.

Farm women are practically one in realizing that the farm home is – must be – the business center of the farm. Many of the contributors to this contest suggest a small office for the farm man so that he can transact the business end of things in a business-like way and further suggest that it should be possible for him to take his business guests straight to this room or office from either the front or back hall, without taking them through the kitchen or the living quarters of the family.


The above article was originally published in THE FARMER’S WIFE — A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN, October 1926, Page 472; Webb Publishing Company, Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Ideal Farm Home Contest–1926

March 1926 THE FARMER’S WIFE — A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN launched a competition for its subscribers — Describe Your Dream House and Win a Prize. The rules were simple. 1. Describe your Ideal Farm Home in a letter. 2. Keep your letter within 1,000 words. 3. The letter must reach the publishing office before May 1st. Submissions must also include a list of the ten points which you consider most important to include in planning any farm — ten items that simply should not be left out. The top prize would be fifty dollars cash! Hundreds of women responded. The “data” was analyzed and the results were published in the October issue. The number one amenity the farm women desired for an “ideal” farm home was electricity.

The original article summarizing the information gathered from the letters is quite lengthy so I have divided it into three sections. Each section will be published as a separate post. I hope that these farm women got to enjoy most, if not all, of these luxuries at some point in their life. Enjoy!



Last March The Farmer’s Wife offered substantial cash prizes for letters from farm women describing their Ideal Farm Home. We also asked each contestant to list ten important points in the arrangement of a farm home.

This proved to be a subject on which many hundreds of our readers had clear-cut ideas and the letters received were at the same time very difficult and very delightful to grade and judge: difficult because, being sincere expressions on a subject concerning which our readers are well informed they were all uncommonly excellent; delightful, because they once more confirmed our established opinion of farm women as the finest and best and most know-how women in the world. Their judgement is good. ~The Editors

FWM 002

“A REMARKABLY large number of those who entered The Farmer’s Wife Ideal Home Contest, expressed their feeling that the building of the farm home does not begin with the actual house but includes the entire farmstead as the beauty, convenience and success of a farmhouse depends on its location and surroundings. Many spoke of the importance of the wood lot, from both the economic and the aesthetic viewpoints; shrubs to tie the house to the ground; flowers; shade trees for shelter and beauty. Many who live in the northern parts of the United States mentioned the need of a windbreak for shelter. Some whose “dream houses” are still in the future have already started by planting trees and shrubs on the chosen site.

The one outstanding thought in the contest letters is the fact that farm women consider the farm home as a place for children and feel that any feature not suited to happiness, health, and development of children has no place in a farm home. Many mentioned the fact that windows should be low so that wee folds can see out; that there must be a place for children to play and a place for toys and childish treasures; that each child should have some nook or corner that is really his, even though it be only a drawer or a shelf or a bit of closet; a number spoke of gymnasium equipment in the basement; and many of the workbench for the boys as well as of the workshop for Father.

But the physical development of the child does not receive all the attention in the letters our farm women readers wrote on this fascinating subject, for over and over again came the demand for a place for plenty of books and magazines and almost everyone desired some provision for music and musical instruments – piano, phonograph, radio; some even are planning whole home orchestras.

THE contest letters show that farm women have done a lot of real thinking about the ideal house and home.

As to the type of house described in the contest letters: The plain square house still leads any other type in popularity because it is the most economical type to build. Other types are rapidly gaining favor. The bungalow and the story-and-a-half house both received many votes from farm women who feel that they save much time and strength which has in the past been spent in climbing stairs. Many mentioned the fact that the house which is low seems to fit better into the farm landscape, than one which stands higher and on a smaller foundation. Many spoke of the Dutch Colonial as being especially attractive in a farm setting and still giving a floor plan which meets the needs of family life on the farm.

The frame house is a leader but there is a distinct tendency toward brick and stucco as they are more resistant to fire and also because of the lower cost of upkeep even though the first is somewhat higher. Fireproof roofs are mentioned again and again.

It is the consensus of opinion that the farm home should have at least one bedroom downstairs for the reasons that the farm mother must be nurse as well as housekeeper and that there are often either old people or small children in the farm family and the downstairs bedroom saves much time and strength.

The location of the laundry is a question on which there is much disagreement. Of the women who expressed themselves, 56% feel that the laundry in the basement is most practical; 23% would have it on the same floor as the kitchen; 3% want it in a building separate from the house. Those who favor the basement feel that it takes the “mess” away from the living floor; those who wish it on the first floor locate it near the kitchen so they can attend to the many other things a farm mother has to do while working and avoid carry clothes up and downstairs. A place undercover for the drying of clothes in winter is considered essential.

The laundry room, these practical folk point out, whether in the basement or on the first floor, can also be used in canning and butchering seasons and the laundry stove should be of a type adapted to these needs. There should be in the room a table with a very heavy top to be used for laundry purposes and the oven for baking use on hot summer days. They suggest that baking can be done here while the fire is going for laundry work.


Our Future Citizens

Letters from Our Farm Women” was a long-running column in THE FARMER’S WIFE – A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN.

To encourage submissions, the magazine awarded a prize of ten dollars (a value of over $140 today) for the best letter published each month. All other letters published, about five per issue, earned a three-dollar prize. The topics were as deep as the writers’ insight and as broad as their imaginations. They were all sincere and thought-provoking. This letter from October 1926 addresses loyalty and citizenship at a time when the War To End All Wars–WW I — was part of recent memory. Enjoy!     


Letters From Our Farm Women–October 1926

DEAR Friends: A good citizen must first of all be loyal to God and country; then he will be both good and great at heart, worthy of trust wherever placed in life.

So, I try to go deep in the training of my children. To begin with, we ourselves are obedient to the laws of the land, thus setting them the best example we can. From the first, our little folks are taught right from wrong and that wrongdoing is always followed by its consequences. Love and loyalty to God, parents and home must be established first. Later, obedience, love and honor to teachers and Sunday School teachers and others who may be placed above them; as they develop, they are taught to apply the same principles in relation to County, State and National government.

In order to be successful in teaching citizenship, we have God in our plan; if His teachings are followed, our children will not be lawbreakers.

We observe special days, such as Independence Day and Flag Day, instill in the children’s minds the importance and origin of the day. We have always made a great deal of our own birthdays, so I think that is why every special occasion becomes a birthday to us. Christmas is the Lord’s birthday, not just a time to hang up stockings and eat lots of candy; Independence Day is our Nation’s birthday, not merely a day to shoot firecrackers and make a noise; and so on.

This is my own, my native land!

Sir Walter Scott, Poet (1771-1832)

Public celebrations are good and have their place but it seems to me that sometimes too much stress is placed on outward display. The leaders are very often people who do not hesitate to break the laws in many ways and children do not learn real patriotism from such. So, I feel that if the principles of good citizenship are to be implanted deep in our children’s hearts and souls, it cannot be left to outside teaching—we must instill thoughts of virtue, purity, the nobility of nature, sacredness of marriage and home and family life, the awful consequences of crime, and thus, with the help of Heavenly Father teach them, in cooperation with the church and school, to be good and useful citizens of our dear United States for “This is my own, my native land!” ~Mrs. M. P., Minnesota FWM

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife – A Magazine For Farm Women, October 1926, Page 478; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota

Cookbook Lady’s Spanish Rice

Recently I published a post titled Behold! The Power of Cheese that featured recipes from the October 1926 issue of THE FARMER’S WIFE — A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN. The article was promoting the use of cheese for its flavor, versatility and nutritional value. A recipe called Cheese-Tomato Rice, which uses cheese as a garnish, reminded me of my Spanish Rice recipe because of the similar ingredients. It is interesting how much more flavor we like in our food compared to what was acceptable one hundred years ago. Whenever I serve this dish to company or at a potluck, I get a request for the recipe so I thought I would share it here. It is a great side dish for most any Mexican or Tex-Mex entree, just be sure to garnish with plenty of cheese. Enjoy!


Cookbook Lady's Spanish Rice

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print


  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1–2 bell peppers, any color, diced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed (not cooked)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
  • S&P to taste
  • Shredded Mexican Blend cheese for garnish


In a large Dutch-oven, over medium heat, saute jalapeno, bell peppers and onion in oil until onion is translucent. Stir in cumin oregano, coriander and garlic powder. Add rinsed rice to the spice and vegetable mixture and saute for two minutes.

Add canned tomatoes, chicken stock, salt and sugar; bring mixture to a simmer. Cover tightly, place Dutch-oven in oven and bake at 350* for 16 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Remove from oven and allow rice to stand for five minutes. Toss in chopped cilantro, drained black beans and season to taste. Garnish with plenty of cheese.

Recipe Compliments of

Are Your Children Healthy?

Inhaling droplets spread by coughing, sneezing, speaking, singing, or close face-to-face contact is the leading mode of respiratory disease transmission. No, I’m not just speaking about Covid-19. I’m talking about centuries-old contagious diseases that spread into the early twentieth century — tuberculosis, smallpox, diphtheria, and others. The Spanish Influenza, however, came seemingly out of nowhere but followed similar methods in its spread. These diseases were also spread by touching objects, including clothing, blankets, or skin sores, contaminated by infected droplets. Many cities during the 1918 flu pandemic outlawed spitting in public, even outdoors, and promoted mask-wearing in an effort to curb the spread of the influenza. A high mortality rate was another common denominator of these diseases within specific segments of the population. During WW I America lost more servicemen to the Spanish Influenza than in combat due to the close quarters of military personnel especially on ships, and the fact that there was no effective medical intervention available. In the early 1920s, the science of vaccinations was in its infancy, and even though an antitoxin had been developed for Diphtheria, the disease was still a leading cause of death in children at that time. Vaccinations for tuberculosis and smallpox were not widely accepted or promoted until after WW II. Scarlet Fever, a highly contagious strain of the strep bacteria, was another potentially deadly disease for infants and young children sometimes leading to Rheumatic Fever. Those who survived were often left with serious health complications such as permanent hearing loss, heart, joint, or brain damage. Unfortunately, antibiotics that could arrest the disease were still two decades away. Couple this with concerns about childbirth and maternal health, proper hygiene and sanitation, the need for accessible health care in rural areas, and a safer food supply within cities, it becomes apparent that early-twentieth-century women needed information. Information regarding what she could do to help mitigate these issues within her family and community. Newspapers and periodicals such as THE FARMER’S WIFE – A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN were the main sources available for the dispersal of up-to-date information to rural women. Below are other examples of the types of information rural women could access:      



“In The Health Of Our Children Lies The Future Of Our Nation”

By Walter R. Ramsey M.D., Associate Professor, Diseases of Children, University of Minnesota

What the States Are Doing — 1926

THE Massachusetts Department of Health is entering the second year of a ten-year campaign dealing with the prevention of tuberculosis. The Massachusetts authorities are stressing the importance of food and nutrition as a means of prevention. A number of splendid pamphlets have been issued in this connection. These pamphlets are free to the residents of the state. Write to the State Department of Health, Capitol Building, Boston, Massachusetts.

THE Maryland State Department of Health is launching a campaign to have all school children protected against smallpox, scarlet fever, and diphtheria. This campaign involves a general program of education as to the nature of these diseases and means of prevention. Making the child fit to fight these serious children’s diseases by inspection and treatment before the beginning of the school year is becoming a state policy which might well be carried out in other sections of the country.

THE Connecticut State Department of Health is attempting to meet the needs for child hygiene work in opening child health centers in various parts of the state. At these health centers, young children can receive free examinations and inspections by their local or state departments. For particulars address Dr. A.E. Ingraham, 8 Washington St., Hartford, Connecticut.

THE West Virginia Department of Health has conducted a Mothercraft correspondence course since 1922. This course includes instruction as to prenatal care and touches also upon practically all of the problems encountered from babyhood up. Many mothers have availed themselves of the opportunity for instruction and they pronounce the course very helpful. Applicants should address the State Department of Health, Charleston, Massachusetts.

THE Massachusetts State Department of Health is conducting an extension course in Mothercraft. This course is in the form of fifteen complete lessons. The course is sold for four dollars. These lessons have been very carefully prepared and will be found most instructive and helpful. For particulars address the State Department of Health, Capitol Building, Boston, Massachusetts.

THE Pennsylvania Department of Health has recently issued a baby book which is not only attractive but helpful. This book covers not only matters dealing with the feeding and clothing of the child for health but also pays attention to the matter of child training and discipline. Pennsylvania mothers can secure this book by addressing the State Department of Health, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

THE Maryland Department of Health is watching over the welfare of the public by exercising very close supervision over the canneries of the state. This supervision covers a careful study of conditions under which canned products are processed and packed, thus insuring healthful products. Before being placed on the market such canned products must have the approval of the state authorities. FWM

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine For Farm Women, October 1926, Page 487; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota

Behold! The Power of Cheese

The American Dairy Council’s slogan from the late nineties — “Behold! The Power of Cheese” — would have been the perfect title for the one-hundred-year old Farmer’s Wife article below. Home cooks from the 1920s were well aware of the ability of cheese to elevate any meal through both flavor and nutrition. During WW I, just a few years prior to this issue’s publication, the U.S. government promoted using cheese as a meat substitute on the home front so that beef could be made available to feed the US troops. By then American cheddar cheese was readily available even in rural areas and a good value for money. So common was cheddar, in fact, that it was referred to rather casually in old recipes and cookbooks as “cheese”, “American” cheese (not meaning the processed cheese of today), “store” cheese, “dairy” cheese or “yellow” cheese. Softer cheeses were available as well, with cream cheese being wildly popular during the 20s and 30s. Dairy women frequently made their own cottage cheese (recipe below) and often served it as part of a salad with fruits and/or vegetables. (It was not until reading the article below that I heard of garnishing cottage cheese with conserves or marmalade). For special occasions, such cheeses as Camembert, Roquefort, Edam and Swiss would have been available, but were a luxury most rural folk could ill afford.

I hope you enjoy reading “Cheese Is Choice”

Dutch or Cottage Cheese

Cheese Is Choice — It Should Be Used As A Staple Food

By Edith M. Barber

Cheese for “trimming” other less savory foods and for making leftovers go farther is indeed a boon to the cook. How often it helps answer that ever-present question “What shall we have for supper?” Sometimes it serves to flavor a white sauce to pour over hard-cooked eggs on toast or to cover raw eggs in a baking dish which is set in the oven until the eggs are firm. Sometimes cheese sauce is used with vegetables such a cauliflower or cabbage, which are then covered with crumbs and baked until brown. Escalloped vegetable with cheese has a certain “body” which makes it satisfying as a main luncheon or supper dish.

A dish of fresh cottage cheese on the table will supplement the summer vegetables and fruits which we like to use lavishly in their season. It occasionally may be varied by mixing with cut chives or chopped onions, or surrounded with preserves or garnished with jelly.

The fancy cheeses which have more distinct and individual flavors lend themselves to occasional use but for every day, the plain American or cottage cheeses are the most satisfactory. Cottage cheese in its own form can be digested easily by children, as well as by the older members of the family, but the richer cheeses which contain more fat should always be diluted for the children and often for the rest of the family. Mixed with other blander foods such as white sauces, vegetables and rice or macaroni, cheese should appear often on the table.

Toasted Cheese with Bacon

Slice bread one-half inch thick and cover with thin slices of cheese. Sprinkle with salt and paprika and lay two slices of bacon on each piece. Place in dripping pan and bake in hot oven (400 degrees F.) until bacon is crisp and cheese is melted. If you have a use for hard bread crumbs, the crusts may be removed from the bread, dried and ground.

Stuffed Tomatoes with Cheese

  • 6 tomatoes
  • 3 c. bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. chopped onion
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Cheese

Remove the pulp from tomatoes and mix with crumbs. Cook onion in butter one minute and mix with crumbs and seasonings. Stuff tomatoes and bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) ten minutes. Remove from oven and cover with slices of cheese. Return to oven until cheese is melted and serve at once. This same recipe may be used for peppers.

Corn and Cheese Souffle

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Paprika
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 ½ c. canned corn
  • ½ c. grated cheese
  • 3 eggs

Melt butter and blend with flour. Add milk and seasoning and cook until smooth and thick. Mix egg yolks, cheese and corn and add to sauce. Fold in beaten whites and bake in greased dish in pan of hot water in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) about twenty minutes until set. One-half cup chopped ham may be used instead of corn.

Quick Supper Dish

  • ½ lb. soft cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. mustard
  • Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • 1 c. milk or more

Cut or break cheese into large greased pie pan. Break eggs on top and sprinkle with mixed seasoning. Add milk to cover cheese and mix all together with fork. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) about fifteen minutes until cheese is melted and mixture is set.

Cheese-Tomato Rice

  • 4 c. boiled rice
  • 1 small can tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp. bacon fat
  • Pepper
  • ¼ lb. cheese

Cook onion in bacon fat one minute and add to rice, mixing lightly with fork. Add tomatoes, season to taste and place in greased baking dish. Cut cheese in thin slices and place on top. Bake on hot oven (450 degrees F.) until cheese is melted.

Pinwheel Cheese Biscuit

  • 3 c. flour
  • 5 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp. fat
  • ¾ – 1 cup milk
  • 1 c. grated cheese
  • Paprika

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder, rub in fat and add enough milk to make dough soft enough to roll. Roll into oblong one half inch thick and sprinkle with cheeses and paprika. Roll like jelly roll and cut into inch pieces. Place close together in pie pan with cut side up. Bake in hot oven (450 degrees F.) about fifteen minutes until brown.

Grape Conserve

  • 4 qts. grapes
  • 6 oranges
  • 3 lbs. raisins
  • 1 lb. nuts (not peanuts)

Pulp the grapes, cook until soft, put through colander and add skins, oranges and raisins. To every cup of mixture add a cup of sugar and cook to desired consistency. The nuts are added just before removing from fire.

Grapefruit Marmalade

  • 2 grapefruit
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • Sugar
  • Water

Slice fruit very thin, removing seeds but not rind. It is easier to slice on a board. Fruit may be put through food chopper if preferred; this saves time but the product is not so perfect. To each pound of fruit, add three pints of water. Place in an enamel bowl and let stand for twenty-four hours. To each pound, add one pound of sugar and cook slowly until thick and clear. Test by chilling a little on a saucer. Do no overcook. Pour into sterilized glasses or jars, and seal.

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine For Farm Women, October 1926, Page492; by Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota

Sunday Dinner 1926 — Good But Easy

A witty subscriber from California writes The Farmer’s Wife to share her go-to family meal for the Sabbath – the classic pot roast dinner. She states that with some advanced preparation, she can have a meal on the table twenty minutes after getting home from church, a feat of which her Scottish ancestors would be proud. She also expresses her thankfulness for the wholesome, plentiful and affordable produce available in this country. Her family’s favorite winter dessert is home-canned fruit and a simple cake. In the summer they enjoy fresh fruit and/or jello. This century-old menu reminds me very much of the Sunday dinners that my mother would prepare when I was growing up. I appreciate the sentiments of this God-fearing, hardworking woman. Happy Sunday!   


To The Farmer’s Wife:

As a descendant of Scotch Covenanters – the people who “keep the Sabbath – and everything else they lay their hands on,” I do almost no cooking on the Day of Rest. Yet we consume more then because the family is together and at leisure. The choice of foods and a bit of preparation accomplishes it. Here is a sample meal:

A pot roast with gravy, bread and butter; coffee in winter, iced tea in summer; a vegetable salad, a glass of marmalade, olives or celery, perhaps sliced tomatoes or potato chips and always dessert. In winter the latter is usually a dish of home-canned fruit and a simple cake; in summer, fresh fruit or melon or jello enriched by fruit juices. Our favorite dessert is chilled cantaloupe with a portion of lemon jello in each half, delicious on a hot day.

The pot roast has been cooked Saturday afternoon and the cake prepared or bought. The other dishes are quickly done early Sunday morning, placed in the cooler and ready for placing on the table. The table is set before leaving for church. The roast, left in its kettle, (and large enough to provide cold slices for supper) is reheated while I remove my church-going attire; the gravy is thickened in a jiffy, and we are ready to eat in twenty minutes after we reach home.

This menu omits vegetables. They require last-minute cooking and much preparation; besides, we use them liberally through the week. As fruits are plentiful, cheap and wholesome in this country, we make the most of them, canning a variety in summer for the sake of these Sunday dinners and unexpected company. It pays.

This meal is simple yet meets the family taste; no dishes are there merely for looks, and each dish is as good as we can make it. Not how much but how good is the rule of my people. Never would I make a pie on Sunday! My Scotch fore-mothers would disown me at the pearly gates! Besides, pies, elaborate foods and steaming hot dishes are not necessary to family happiness or health. – L. McC., California

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine for Farm Women, October 1926, Page 481 Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul Minnesota

Mission Statement & New Beginning

The publication The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine For Farm Women was published from 1897 through 1939 boasting a readership of over one million at its peak. In opposition to “pretty” magazines for women. In October 1926, The Farmer’s Wife’s proclaimed mission was to be the voice of and for farm women in politics, women’s suffrage, community development, improved formal education for rural children, agrarian and homemaking education for rural women, family recreation, and healthcare.

As with any periodical, advertising was a very large part of the printed material. Nearly all products featured in The Farmer’s Wife, from dress patterns to oil stoves, were available through mail-order, much like the online shopping of today, thereby making a wide variety of products accessible to rural buyers. Perhaps because of this advertising, a four-year subscription of twelve magazines per year cost one dollar a hundred years ago.

The community created through The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine For Farm Women, much like Facebook, Instagram and TicTok communities of today, made meaningful contributions to the magazine through Letters to the Editor, article submissions, reports of club and community work, and last but not least, recipes. It was about women connecting with women when many lived in isolated areas with a uniquely rural, labor-intensive set of circumstances.

Being a farmer’s wife with a driving curiosity of agrarian and domestic history, I find the articles in The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine for Farm Women captivating and informative. I also find it unfortunate that this wonderful glimpse into the lives of our fore-mothers is hidden away in the pages of these century-old magazines and newspapers never to really see the light of day. As a way of showing appreciation for the path that was paved for me by strong, hardworking women, it is my quest to breathe life into some of these forgotten treasures by transcribing the most in-depth and inspiring pages and posting them here on my blog, The Farmer’s Wife, where others like me can celebrate the capable women that came before us. Please join me.


Hot Food for Rural School Children

A century ago parents had the same concerns for their children’s health and nutrition as parents of today. Printed in the October 1921 volume of The Farmer’s Wife – A Magazine for Farm Women is an article sharing a community’s success in providing a warm noon meal for their school children through the help and industry of the children themselves. The summer-long project involved students in gardening, canning, cooking and donating their produce to the warmth and well being of their fellows.

Neighborhood Activities

Stories Of Accomplishments By Rural Groups, Here, There And Everywhere

COMMUNITIES all over the country are appreciating more and more the need and value of some hot food for school children at noon. Many who have long since passed the school attendance age can look back and recall very vividly how unappetizing the cold lunch became after a few weeks of school and especially in the latter part of the winter. The cities have long since organized a system to provide this hot noon meal but in the rural districts the problem has been much more difficult and it was not until comparatively recently that any attempt was made to solve the problem.

It may be of interest to those who are working on this question to know how one community in Chester County, Pa., has organized to care for the health of the children in this way. Sconnelltown school is situated in the historic Brandywine country.

The children in this school have their own vegetable gardens in the summer. These gardens were very successful and some of the produce, corn, string beans and tomatoes, was contributed by the producers to the school. Eight of the school girls under the supervision of a progressive woman in the community canned these vegetables. As a result, they had at the end of the season, 36 quarts of beans, 59 quarts of tomatoes and 27 quarts of corn. This made a very nice supply with which to start the years. As lunches are served to 27 pupils each day, purchased cans will have to be added to the supply of tomatoes. Other supplies are provided by the Home and School League which meets in the school. This makes it possible for all pupils, whether they have any pennies to spend or not, to have the hot food. The older girls of the school prepare the food and serve it to the other children as they sit at their desks.

This organization serves many purposes. It stimulates interest in the school gardens and canning and gives a definite aim for both; it partially provides for the school lunches during the winter months; and it provides the nourishing hot food which is so much needed by so many of the pupils.

Many other schools in Chester County are doing similar work with the hot lunches but not all are as well organized as in this community. – Mary Palmer, Chester County, Pennsylvania

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife – A Magazine for Farm Women, 1 October 1921, page 566; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota

News from Washington — October 1921

National News of Interest to Farm Women

By Alice Gram, Washington Representative of The Farmer’s Wife

News from Washington was a monthly column published in The Farmer’s Wife. Below is a bulleted list of topics covered in this article:

  • The value of a college education in 1921 is spelled out in dollars and cents by the National Bureau of Education in the “Schooling Pays” piece posted below.  
  • The Bureau also projects a crisis in education for children in rural areas because the schools are so poorly financed. Consolidation of smaller districts seems to be the buzzword in an effort to meet budget constraints of schools. A shortage of teachers nationwide and the level of education of country school teachers is cause for concern as well. See “For Our Rural Schools.”
  • Colorado, Nevada and Utah have recently passed legislation against the sale and use of the drug known as “peyote”. Representative Hayden of Arizona has also introduced a bill into the House prohibiting the trafficking of “dry whiskey” in the report below titled “A Bad Drug.”
  • Access to information leaflets and bulletins regarding caring for babies and children, as well as, recipes and directions for making fruit butters and canning meat and seafood in a steam canner is listed below.

For Our Rural Schools

JOHN JAMES TIGERT, the new United States Commissioner of Education, made sweeping and significant statements in a recent interview with The Farmer’s Wife Washington News representative:

“Sound educational progress is based on sufficient revenues for the schools, and you can’t solve the economic problem of rural schools until you have a solution for the economic and industrial status of the farmer.

“The farmer has got to have a square deal economically; he is then in a logical position to finance his public school. The only reason that the rural schools are not what they should be is because they are so poorly financed. Rural school teachers are poorly paid because they are poorly trained. They are poorly trained because they are poorly paid.

“This vicious circle will form the basis of our next years’ study here in the Bureau, and I hope to signalize my administration by helping to meet the problem.

“The country has been facing a financial crisis, an industrial crisis and a social crisis. It has also to face an educational crisis. During the war, 68,000 teachers left their professions to enter other fields of work. In one state, there were 2,000 schools closed because of the teacher shortage.

“Today because of the apparent large percent of unemployment, these teachers have returned to their old profession and according to newspaper reports every schoolroom is supplied – but the sad part of it is that only one out of five are adequately trained to their job; the rest are rated as eleventh-grade pupils, which means that the majority have not had a high school education. Think what that means to the coming generation!

“Unfortunately, but quite naturally the majority is to be found in the rural schools, because the financial support is lower than in the cities.

“Out of the meager appropriation allowed the Bureau of Education for the coming year, $50,000 will be devoted to the rural division. Although this is ridiculously small it takes on some importance compared with a mere $9,000 allotted for the city school work.”

A study of the financial problem of the rural school will comprise better methods of raising school funds, better systems of support and better results with less expenditure. To help him in this study, Commissioner Tigert has organized the rural division of the Bureau into an independent unit. One assistant will make a study of schools housing fifteen or less pupils, another the one-room school and so on.

This work will be started almost immediately or as soon as the Bureau has completed its report on Consolidated Schools which will be available to the public in a few weeks. Commissioner Tigert urges the rural districts to welcome the standardization of the one-room school. He believes that perfecting results in this direction paves the way for the next step of consolidation which has proved its own efficacy, as the coming report will show.

Commissioner Tigert comes to his new position from a long and full experience in educational work in the United States. He was occupying the chair of psychology at the University of Kentucky at the time of his appointment. Educators will watch his activities with keen attention, as the whole school situation needs concentrated care.

A Bad Drug

A NEW and dread word has loomed up in Washington legislative circles which carries with it what should be a telling appeal on behalf of the Indian under the jurisdiction of American civilization.

That word is Peyote, the name of an intoxicating and slow-poison drug which is derived from certain cacti native to northern Mexico and frequently called “dry whiskey.”

Representative Hayden of Arizona has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives prohibiting the traffic in this drug and the Indian Rights organizations are asking the women of the nation particularly to use their legislative influence in having this bill enacted into law.

Mrs. Gertrude Bonnin, recently introduced to readers of The Farmer’s Wife, on this page, says:

Since the use of peyote is spreading rapidly and is undermining the work of the churches and our benevolent Government; since it is an American principle to protect helpless peoples from the ruthless hand of the oppressor and to restrain the unscrupulous greed of those who traffic upon ignorance and superstitions, we do implore all earnest citizens of America for federal law to protect us against the traffic in and the indiscriminate use of peyote.

The states of Colorado, Nevada and Utah have, by recent legislation, prohibited the use and sale of this poison.

Tab On The Babies

“BOOKKEEPING of babies” is one of the important functions of the Children’s Bureau of the Department of Labor. Miss Julia Lathrop has directed the work of the Children’s Bureau from its inception.

It is because this baby ledger, as it may well be named, has been kept to faithfully that the Children’s Bureau is able to produce statistics and facts to support the need for greater facilities in extending federal co-operation to the nation’s motherhood. Comparative figures from this ledger covering a five-year period, are given for eighteen large cities in a brief report entitled Infant Mortality in Pittsburgh which has recently been issued by the Bureau and is now available to the public.

For Mothers’ Study

KEEP WELL SERIES prepared by the United States Public Health Service includes a number of instructive health leaflets on the care of babies and children and other important health subjects. Write to the United States Public Health Service, Washington, D.C., for:

  •                Motherhood: No. 8: Keep Well Series.
  •                Breast Feeding for Baby: No. 9 Keep Well Series.
  •                Bottle Feeding for Babies: No. 10 Keep Well Series

The following leaflets are also available:

  •                The Care of The Baby: No. 10 Supplement to Public Health Reports
  •                The Summer Care of Infants: No. 16 Supplement to Public Health Reports
  •                A Home-made Milk Refrigerator: No. 102 Public Health Bulletin

Fruit Butters

THE housewife who is planning for homemade fruit butters this fall can obtain a splendid collection of fruit butter receipts which are easily made and which have been tested in the Home Economics Laboratory of the United States Department of Agriculture. Send for Farmers’ Bulletin No. 900, Homemade Fruit Butters, to Division of Publications, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. The bulletin is free.

Canning Meat

FROM the Cooperative Extension Work in Agriculture and Home Economics, United States Department of Agriculture, comes the splendid bulletin, Home Canning of Meats and Seafoods With The Steam Pressure Canner. This circular represents one of the most important steps in the development of home canning. It outlines clearly the various steps in the canning of meats and seafoods with the aid of the steam pressure canner. Write to address given above for S.R.S. Doc. 80, Washington, D.C.

IT IS very convenient to have on hand a file of Farmers’ Bulletins on those subjects pertaining to the particular activities on your farm. A list of all Farmers’ Bulletins in print is sent out monthly to all who apply. Write for the list to this address: Editor in Chief Division of Publications, United States Agricultural Department, Washington, D.C. The bulletins are free.

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife – A Magazine for Farm Women, October 1921, Page 557; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota