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.