Women and the Land: Agricultural Organizations of World War I
11 artifacts in this set
To fill positions vacated by men going off to fight, the government encouraged women to participate as the "Second Line of Defense." Women worked in factories, hospitals, on farms, and in other essential services, thus providing consistent support for the American war effort.
Private agricultural groups founded the Woman's Land Army in 1917 to train women to take over farming jobs left vacant by men who went to fight. The organization, based on the British Women's Land Army, trained women at agricultural camps around the country and assigned them to specific farms to work for the duration of the war.
The practical Woman's Land Army uniforms provided easy mobility for active farm work. Their clean-cut appearance also helped the public to reconcile the idea of women keeping their femininity while still performing hard physical labor.
Though published by the Woman's National Farm and Garden Association, this bulletin included advertisements for Woman's Land Army uniforms. Uniforms held a dual purpose: they were functional for farm work and also conveyed official status, as they made land workers easily recognizable to the public.
The Woman's National Farm and Garden Association was formed in 1914 and took on wartime duties after 1917. The organization used a variety of methods to recruit, as more workers were always needed to aid the war effort. This pamphlet provided information about the association's mission and work and served as one of many tools to help attract additional laborers.
The Woman's National Farm and Garden Association recruited and trained women to perform agricultural work across the country. This list identified the various units and number of women serving in the New England area.
Although many Americans initially held concerns that women would not be successful at farming, units across the country were so productive that farmers often requested the same women to return to work for the following season.
Women who chose farm labor as their war work often had to leave families behind, as they stayed on the farms for the harvest season or longer. These women came from various backgrounds, ranging from college girls on summer break to married women with husbands overseas.
Land workers performed a wide variety of duties at their individual farms, whether it was planting, harvesting, or caring for animals. This meant some women worked year-round, like those on dairy farms, while others dedicated portions of their time to seasonal farming.
The Woman's National Farm and Garden Association established roadside markets to sell local produce. These markets, usually located near farms that utilized land worker units, provided an easy way for consumers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.
Women who worked in wartime agriculture took pride in their service and pleasure in their work. Many women formed lasting friendships and some continued to work on farms even after the war had ended.