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.


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.

My Neighbors and I Series–Schoolhouse and Community Building

Hello, again History Lovers,

By 1922 Sara Jane Patton, Home Demonstration Agent from Center Star, Kansas had established a thriving organization among the women of that area. Their home-arts work meetings were so well attended that the club had outgrown the ability to meet in folks’ homes. Club members wanted to also add dinners and socials to the club’s schedule of activities, but where could they find space for their activities?

At the same time, the schoolhouse in the community was in need of a remodel and improvements. By combining resources, the community was able to solve both issues with one building. Club members now had a space large enough to meet their growing needs and the children had a modern, well-lighted school to go to.

It would be interesting to have a history of the use of that building. I hope it served the community well for a decade or two. Enjoy!

Center Star, Kansas Community Club Project

Through the efforts of the community club in that district, the Center Star schoolhouse in Cherokee County, Kansas, has been remodeled into a combination of school and community building where Halloween parties and Thanksgiving dinners and socials and plays can be given without having to use the church or crowd the people into the primary seats of the schoolroom.

The Center Star Club was organized by Sara Jane Patton, Cherokee County Home Demonstration Agent. The members wished to provide social enjoyment in addition to their program of work. The socials and the parties which they gave proved so popular that there was no house in the neighborhood that could accommodate the crowds.

The schoolhouse in town had to be remodeled, as the health officer, Dr. J.C. Montgomery, had decreed that the bad lighting was causing headaches and strained eyes. Since this had to be done why not include a community room in the schoolhouse?

Plans were drawn up by Walter Ward, the extension architect at the State Agricultural College. In the new plan, the old school was made the auditorium. The old entry was converted into an elevated stage and the small porches were enclosed and made into dressing rooms. The stage of the old schoolroom, which was on the north, was moved around to the east side of the building and now serves as the main entrance. Rolling partitions separate the auditorium from the new schoolroom. Seven windows provide adequate lighting. A model kitchen, 8’ by 11’, equipped with a range, cupboards, and worktables, opens into both the auditorium and schoolroom. Hot lunches are served to the children throughout the winter months. A hot-air furnace gives heat. The auditorium seats about 125. There are rolling partitions between the two rooms. The cost of the building including some of the new equipment for the schoolroom was about $3,700.

The Center Star Community building was dedicated on November 28 [1922]. Dean Hattie Moore Mitchell of Kansas State Manual Training Normal gave the dedicatory address.

A union Sunday School meets in the building regularly and recently, when a millinery specialist from the college gave a course of instruction to the women of the community, these meetings were held in the community room.

Mrs. S.H. Jarvis is president of the club.


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, March 1923, Page 367; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Clubs and Organizations–Dog Tax Supports Libraries

Hello, again History Lovers,

The Bradford M. Field Memorial Library in Leverett, Massachusetts was established in 1916 by his daughter Elizabeth Judson Field to honor his legacy. Mr. Field had been postmaster and a prominent farmer in the area. The building served as the town’s library until 2003 when a new library was built. The original building still stands and is now The Leverett Family Museum maintained by the Leverett Historical Society. It is open to the public and features local artifacts, photographs, and documents. Other than the article below, I could find no other information regarding the financial support for the library derived from the “dog tax”. To read more about the Leverett Family Museum follow the link.


Turning Barks into Books

“Massachusetts is perhaps the only state in the Union that has a public library in every township or “town” as this political division is still called in New England. A portion of the dog tax (annual dog license fee) goes to the support of these libraries. One of the most charming of these libraries is at Leverett, erected in memory of a revered citizen, Bradford Field.

The library is housed in a beautiful little building of the colonial type of architecture. Opposite the main entrance is a fireplace with colonial settles (high-backed wooden benches) on either side. Above the shelves of books that line the walls are high windows with antique panes. Upstairs is a large room used for meetings, for a reading room, for storytelling to groups of children, and so forth. This upstairs room has a cabinet on one side in which are placed pieces of old china and other historic relics which have been donated to the library.

The library is open two afternoons and evenings of every week. It serves the whole “town” and as many as seventy books have been given out in one afternoon in this rural community. It would seem as though it might pay every state to levy a dog tax and turn “barks” into “books.”


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, March 1923, Page 367; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Clubs and Organizations–A Woman’s Rest Room 1923

Hello, again History Lovers!

Public restrooms for women were virtually nonexistent in the 1920s. Even office buildings had only men’s rooms making it thereby “impossible” to hire women. Recognizing a need, organizations in some cities would create a much-needed women’s oasis for travelers, shoppers, and businesswomen. Sadly though in most towns women had to get along without any public facilities at all. To add to the injustice, it was illegal for women to use a men’s room.

Farm Bureau Rest Room

“More than 11,391 farm women and children took advantage of the restroom in the Farm Bureau office, Davies County, Kentucky, in one year.

The large, airy room is located at the rear of the Farm Bureau office. It has been comfortably furnished by the Woman’s Club, the Farm Bureau, and by individual donations. It is provided with a rug, dainty scrim curtains, easy chairs, couch, library table, phonograph, baby beds, and lavatory. The library table holds all the late magazines and a few books by good authors.

Molly Wells, an old southern “Mammy,” croons lullabies to the curly-haired babies left in her charge. She says, “I jes’ naturally love babies and I find it no trouble at all to care fo’ ‘em [sic].” Molly often has eight or ten children from tiny babies to those of school age to look after while the mothers go shopping or attend a meeting or gathering in town.

Besides caring for the children and keeping the room in apple-pie order, Molly posts on the Farm Bureau bulletin board all the “for-sale” and want advertisements which are in the morning paper so those farm women who have brought from the farm fresh eggs, butter, cream, poultry and so forth, for sale, may look up desirable buyers while they rest. They can check their parcels and packages at the restroom. Many of the patrons drive forty to fifty miles for a day’s shopping and appreciate the restroom accordingly.

The room also is patronized by business girls of Owensboro, who come in at noon to eat their lunch, rest or read.


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, March 1923, Page 364; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Neighborhood Activities

This Club has been the social life of our community.

~Mrs. Frances Sparrow, Piatt County, Illinois

Hello, again History Lovers!

Club membership provided rural farm women social and enrichment opportunities. Today’s post consists of letters written to The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women in February 1922 regarding various club activities and volunteer work.


Letters From Club Members

Dear FARMER’S WIFE: We organized our Women’s Club over a year ago and call it the South Prairie Women’s Club. It is composed of wives of the men of the threshing ring and their daughters over fifteen years old. We meet every month, discuss all problems which bother us, school work, current events, have music of some kind, have a wiener roast in October for the young folks, a picnic in June for the kiddies, and a regular banquet in February for our husbands and, last but not least, we have a big feast with ice cream some evening when we finish threshing. This year we had our farm advisor as a guest at this supper who gave us a talk on grain marketing. This club has been the social life of our community. –Mrs. Frances Sparrow, Piatt County, Illinois

Dear FARMER’S WIFE: The people of Stony Point school district, Dickinson County, Kansas, last year realized the need of having something to bring the people together at the schoolhouse and so organized a community club. The motto is For the Good of Home and School and we met every two weeks last winter and had programs, having an outside speaker occasionally but mostly the members taking part. Two events were given for the purpose of making money: a pie social, with a spelling and ciphering match for entertainment and a play. With the money we bought gasoline lamps for the schoolhouse, cups, spoons, and plates, to be used for hot lunches by the school children and on club nights. Some books and folding chairs have been purchased. For our study work this year we are going to take topics on the United States. We find teachers and superintendents of nearby towns always willing to help with our programs –Florence Knight Killian, Dickinson County, Kansas.

Dear FARMER’S WIFE: Our Mother’s Club was first organized at the small schoolhouse Dist. 8 of Otoe County, Nebraska in the fall of 1916 with 22 members. Later the club was taken into the Federation in the spring of 1919. We meet alternately at the schoolhouse and at a home twice a month. Hot lunches were started in school for the winter months. Cupboard and dishes were bought to help with these.

Two home-talent plays have been given to make money. We also have had numerous parties including farewell surprise parties for those who leave the district and we give them some token of remembrance.

This summer we had a wiener roast picnic at Antelope Park, Lincoln. Besides these, we have our regular club banquet or open meeting to which each member’s family is invited. The object of our club is to cooperate with teachers and pupils for the betterment of school and community. –Jessie Lanning

Dear FARMER’S WIFE: A few years ago our people of the community met at a vacant house and organized a Farmers’ Union Local which took in all the members voted upon from sixteen years up. They have continued to meet from house to house every two weeks, with attendance from twenty-five to one hundred and twenty-five. While the men are holding a business meeting, the women are busy with fancy work or clearing up the tables after an appetizing lunch. A program is sometimes given. Usually, our largest gatherings are in vacation time when the young folk can enjoy a good ball game.

At one meeting a barrel of vinegar was distributed at thirty cents a gallon, so a little was saved that way. Other supplies are ordered in season. A general good time is enjoyed and everyone goes home satisfied. Nothing but urgent duty will keep one away from “the next meeting”. –Ellen B. Fleming


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, February 1922, Page 716; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.