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

By Donald B. Marti | Go to book overview

tative Lecturers on one hand and women and tactful teachers on the other.61

Despite the feminization of the Lecturers' office, Buell thought that it retained "power" and "responsibility." The Lecturer shaped members' "ideals concerning their home and farm surroundings, rural schools, and local community conditions" and was "somewhat responsible for the attitude which the members hold toward issues . . . such as taxation, the land question, conservation of natural resources, transportation, rural school improvement, control of packers, collective bargaining" and other large questions of the day. Ideally, Buell suggested, the Lecturer would exercise her "power" indirectly. Rather than speaking much, she would simply call members' attention to the great questions, draw out their ideas, and always remember to be "thankful" for their contributions. Her task was very much like teaching in an ungraded school, where the pupils' ages and educational backgrounds varied widely. Buell knew that the "trained teacher, accustomed to dealing with grades and systems adapted to similar ages and stages of intellectual attainment, stands aghast at the situation confronting her when chosen Lecturer of a subordinate Grange." But she thought that the job was even more challenging for Lecturers who had not been teachers.62

By the time Buell described the Lecturer's task, women's participation in the Grange had expanded much beyond the very limited roles that the founders devised. Beginning with almost purely ornamental offices, women had moved into positions of real leadership. But even when Buell wrote about Lecturers, Grange equality was still, in the phrase Anson Bartlett used in an 1868 letter to Oliver Hudson Kelley, "varied . . . to suit the condition of the sexes."63 Outside of a few weak Grange states, women rarely served as Masters. They were mainly Secretaries and Lecturers, and the Lecturers' office had changed as women took possession of it.

Buell's reflections on Lecturers are highly suggestive of the specialized kind of leadership that women exercised in their Granges, the effects that it had--or was supposed to have--on the conduct of Grange meetings, and the sorts of women who served as leaders. Buell's ideal woman leader was articulate, widely informed, and had pedagogical training or experience. Buell herself fit that description and it applied, very generally, to most of the other women who helped to lead the Grange.


NOTES
1.
Oliver Hudson Kelley, Origin and Progress of the Patrons of Husbandry in the United States: A History from 1866 to 1873 ( Philadelphia: J. A. Wagenseller, 1875),

-31-

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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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