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.

Enjoy!

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.”

~FWM

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.

Two Pictures I Would Like Best To Own Series–Part 2

Hello, again History Lovers,

In 1923 The Farmer’s Wife—A Magazine For Farm Women invited farm women to write in regarding what pictures they admire and why. Hundreds of women responded to the prompt describing some of the most famous works of art in the world. Ten of the best letters were published. Over the course of the next several months, my Sunday posts will be some of these letters along with images of the artwork they describe so that we too might be enriched.  

What would you hang above your mantle?

Beauty and Joy

The Madonna of the Chair 1515, Raphael–Italian High Renaissance

Instead of buying each other Christmas gifts this year, my husband and I used the money to buy what we have long wanted for our home—Raphael’s Madonna of the Chair. I think the most important picture in a home should be a Madonna. As the mother is the center of the home, one of the great ideals of motherhood should hold first place.

How can anyone look at Raphael’s Madonna and not feel the majesty, love, and tenderness it portrays? It helps me to be a better mother. It is the emblem of peace and happiness that are found only in a true home. Our picture is in sepia with a perfectly plain black oak frame. It is truly “a thing of beauty and a joy forever.”

Dance Under the Trees at the Edge of the Lake 1870, Camille Corot–French Landscape

Another picture which I want for our home is a landscape, Dance Under the Trees at the Edge of the Lake by Corot.

I should like this picture to be a reproduction of the dainty colors in which the original was painted and with a narrow gold frame. As a lover of beauty in nature, this picture impressed itself upon me the very first time I saw it. The word that comes to my mind when I think of it is “joyful.” Youth and joyousness fairly radiate from the wonderful landscape. Even if the youthful figures were not dancing around the tree, one would still feel this happiness, I think.

These two pictures I want for my living room. One the emblem of peace and happiness, the other of joy—pictures which have long pleased the world and made it better. –Mrs. J.A.R., Minnesota

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.

Are Your Children Healthy? Scarlet Fever

Hello, again History Lovers!

In 1923 The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women began a series regarding the healthcare of rural babies and children written by Dr. Walter R. Ramsey a leading pediatrician of his time. The Editors encouraged mothers to read the articles, cut them out and paste them in a scrapbook, and to tell their neighbors about the information. Keep in mind this was well before the availability of penicillin when childhood illnesses could be debilitating or fatal. Our two-year stint with Covid-19 has been an immersive experience in the anxiousness and vulnerability that mothers of yesteryear had to have felt during outbreaks of serious childhood illnesses.

Today I’m feeling particularly grateful for the availability of antibiotics while raising my children.

Scarlet Fever–Scarlatina

Regard Every Case, However Mild, As Most Serious

“Scarlet Fever is perhaps the most treacherous of all the diseased which affect children. You never know just what it is going to do next. I may be so severe from the onset as to end fatally within a few days, or it may be so mild that it is almost impossible to say that it is scarlet fever at all. Even in the mild cases of so-called Scarlatina, serious complications may arise.

It is, therefore, imperative that all cases of scarlet fever of whatever degree of severity be regarded as serious.

The time from exposure until the child comes down with the disease, varies from two days to a week. The onset is usually sudden with vomiting, sore throat, and rapidly rising fever. The throat is inflamed and frequently covered with a grayish-white membrane, not unlike that found in diphtheria.

The two diseases may be present at the same time, and it is only by a culture from the throat and a microscopic examination that the proper diagnosis can be made.

After twenty-four or forty-eight hours the tongue usually presents the strawberry appearance. The rash begins usually on the neck and chest and rapidly spreads over the body; is not blotchy like measles but rather of a mustard plaster character and in typical cases is scarlet in color.

The glands in the neck frequently become swollen and very tender and later may form an abscess and have to be opened by the physician.

Abscess of the middle ear is common and requires skilled attention, as frequently the drum must be opened to evacuate the pus. By early opening through the canal, mastoid involvement i.e., infection of bone cells behind the ear, may be prevented.

Another frequent and serious complication is inflammation of the kidneys. This often occurs in mild cases, even after they are thought to be well and are permitted to run about and have the usual things to eat. In these cases, it will be noticed that the face is puffy, especially under the eyes, and the ankles and feet are swollen, so that the ridges of the stockings and shoes can be readily seen in the skin. The urine is scant in quantity and often highly colored.

Another serious complication of scarlet fever is heart involvement. It may produce serious symptoms from the beginning or be found later in life. Many of the boys rejected from the army in the late war, were suffering from some heart affection, many instances of which have their origin in scarlet fever during childhood.

Inflammation of the joints is also common in scarlet fever and may result in serious and permanent disability.

From what I have already said it will be apparent that scarlet fever is a disease that should be under the supervision of a skilled physician from the very onset.

All cases of scarlet fever should be kept in bed for a much longer period than is usually thought necessary.

The disease is usually contracted from some other person who has it. The infection comes from the discharges from the throat or nose and not from the scalings, as is generally supposed.

A very common carrier is the milk that may readily be infected from someone, such as a milker who has the disease in a mild form, but who does not know it. One of the worst local epidemics I have ever seen of scarlet fever and malignant sore throat resulted from the infection of the milk supply by the milker.

If all milk for children were properly pasteurized or boiled for two minutes, many of them would miss such diseases as scarlet fever, diphtheria, typhoid, and tuberculosis from which many of them now suffer.”

~FWM

Home Demonstration Work–Blog Shout Out

Hello, again History Lovers!

My post for today is a shoutout to a blog that I recently began following: ruralnchistory.blogspot.com linked HERE

The author posts daily articles from various North Carolina newspapers from a hundred years ago. Her blog takes a broad look at the happenings of the 1920s including arrests made during prohibition, accidents involving new automobiles and drivers, as well as prison breaks, deaths, marriages, and births. It is my morning “read” (much more enjoyable than the current events in our world).

Sunday’s post was of particular interest to me:

Home Demonstration Agent Ola Wells Helping Guilford Residents Raising Chickens, February 20, 1922, linked HERE

Home Demonstration Agents not only helped housewives but also promoted activities and learning for rural school-age children. In the article linked above, Mrs. Wells is encouraging teachers who want to form a Poultry Club in their school to do so. (I guess this would be akin to the after-school programs of today). Children who are interested are invited to contact Mrs. Wells directly.

Enjoy!

How To Be a Good House Guest — 1926

Visiting family or friends for the holidays in the 1920s required advanced planning and preparation for the would-be travelers as well as the hostess. Overnight stays were often necessary due to long slow travel times. Being a good house guest (in any decade) includes politeness, courtesy, good manners, and a general thoughtfulness for the hostess – are they having a nice visit as well? Below is a submission published in the Letters From Our Farm Women section of THE FARMER’S WIFE MAGAZINE addressing this issue. The readers of the magazine voted it “letter-of-the-month” and its author, Mrs. K, received a ten-dollar ($150 today) cash prize demonstrating that the information was very pertinent. Although Americans are much more casual when visiting and entertaining now than we once were, it behooves us to give some thought to this “mighty good counsel.” Happy Reading!

~Elaine

 Mighty Good Counsel

DEAR Farm Mothers:

I want to tell you about some of the courtesies I feel I must teach my children.

When visiting my friends and relatives, I am nearly always treated with politeness and courtesy, but when they visit me, they often fail in this respect.

I have often wondered why this is so and at last, have come to the conclusion that we parents are neglecting to teach our children these things. They learn to be polite hosts or hostess by precept and example at home but, as the faults I have in mind are not very noticeable in childhood and are committed most frequently away from home, the parents are not there to see and correct.

When our children go visiting, we say, “Now be good; don’t eat too much; don’t take large mouthfuls; be sure to say ‘thank you’ and ‘If you please.’ Thus, we teach them to look after themselves and show their good breeding rather than to be thoughtful of the people they visit.

Here are some rules I am teaching my children:

  1. Stay no longer than invited unless urged very much—as if the urge was meant.
  2. Answer all invitations promptly. It may save people work and help in their plans.
  3. State, at start, how long you can stay. Many visits are spoiled by worry as to whether the visit will be a week or month.
  4. Leave before welcome is worn out.
  5. Write if there is a change in plans.
  6. Avoid surprises, except in short calls. Many a woman has worked all through a visit, who otherwise could have been ready and enjoyed it.
  7. Retire at a reasonable hour.
  8. Ask about time of rising and never appear until family has been up a while. Where there is no furnace or bathroom, it is sometimes impossible for a family to get baths because the company is up first, last to bed and around all day.
  9. Do not sit or stand in people’s way.
  10. Do not snoop around, listen at doors, nor enter private rooms uninvited.
  11. Help at work but do not say you “hate” to do the kind you are doing. Learn to use tact. Do not say, “This floor is so dirty; let me sweep it,” or “The flies are so thick; shall I kill them?”
  12. Do not offer to do every little thing you see undone. If the hostess sees you are unhappy unless everything is in order, she will continue to work instead of visit.
  13. Do not visit with others while hostess works, then read when she is ready to visit.
  14. Do not order the family to get any article needed about the home, nor buy meat or such after two or three meals unless you are very close relative. Then that may be your duty and privilege—not otherwise.
  15. Do not talk strange religious doctrines before children.
  16. Give others a chance to talk and don’t be forever giving advice about their affairs.
  17. Don’t stand around dining room or kitchen, as if in a hurry for a meal.
  18. If one of the family needs to eat before the rest, do not sit down with them to eat unless the hostess suggests it.
  19. Do not count cakes or other food to see if there are enough for all, and do not take the worst piece. Your hostess wants you to have the best.
  20. Do not rise before the hostess and begin to clear the table. She may wish to rest and visit.
  21. Try to eat a reasonable amount of what is set before you. If you do not, your hostess will be made considerable trouble trying to get something you do like.

Now, my readers, don’t say, “There haint no sech animal; no one does such things these days.” They do, for all these “don’ts” are built from my own trying experiences. The city and town people break these rules as much and perhaps more than the country people, and the well-educated as much as those who have less education. –Mrs. K., Michigan FWM

The above article was originally published in THE FARMER’S WIFE – A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN, October 1926, Page 481; Webb Publishing Company, Saint Paul, Minnesota

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!

Elaine

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.

TO BE CONTINUED

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

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!     

~Elaine

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

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”

Elaine
Dutch or Cottage Cheese
MRS. ALLEN’S COOK BOOK 1917

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

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.

Elaine

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