Women of the Grange: Mutuality and Sisterhood in Rural America, 1866-1920

By Donald B. Marti | Go to book overview

Introduction

The Order of Patrons of Husbandry, more familiarly known as the Grange, has always been a family organization. It has never divided men and women into separate orders, as other secret societies have usually done; that practice reflects the agricultural part of its heritage. Men and women farmers have regularly crossed the boundary separating their spheres to share work and social enjoyments; recent studies by Nancy Grey Osterud, Deborah Fink, and Mary Neth all make that common point. Participating in the Grange with their men, women have always played important, though often formally subordinate, roles in the Order's work. A few women hold high-sounding titles in the Grange now; a great many of their predecessors helped to build and sustain the organization.1

Part of the rural world of "mutuality" between men and women that Osterud, Fink, and Neth describe, the Grange has also created opportunities for the sociability and cooperation among women that are other important parts of country life.2 Grange sisters have worked together to decorate their halls and to prepare food and programs for the Order's meetings. Moreover, their contributions to programs and the activities of the specialized women's committees that first appeared in the 1880s have reflected their shared interests in domestic crafts, child-rearing, and the moral betterment of their communities. Until the nineteenth amendment was added to the United States Constitution, many women also used Grange platforms and publications to demand the vote.

In their special attention to equal suffrage and other public issues of special interest to women, Grange sisters participated in the woman movement that preceded twentieth-century feminism. According to

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Women of the Grange: Mutuality and Sisterhood in Rural America, 1866-1920
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Women's Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 13
  • 1- Graces, Lecturers, and The Changing "Appearance Of Equality" 19
  • Notes 31
  • 2- Teachers, Farmers, and Famous Grangers 35
  • Notes 51
  • 3- Literary Entertainment 55
  • Notes 69
  • 4 - Drudgery and Home Economics 73
  • Notes 85
  • 5- Women's Committees 89
  • Notes 102
  • Notes 120
  • 7- Remaining Tasks and Recent Changes 125
  • Notes 138
  • Conclusion 141
  • Note on Sources 145
  • Index 153
  • About the Author 159
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