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

By Donald B. Marti | Go to book overview

the WCTU, and the Women's Equal Suffrage Association in cheering the proposal through the legislature. Dean Winifred Robinson, a botanist who had received her Ph.D. from Columbia University and taught at Vassar, quickly organized an institution that combined vocational training with science, athletics, English, and French. One of her first four professorial appointments went to home economics.46

Michigan State and Delaware participated in a rapid expansion of home economics instruction. The ten college home economics departments of 1895 became thirty by 1900 and forty-one by 1922.47 The Grange contributed less to the expansion than did the rising demand for home economics teachers in public schools, but its women applauded the discipline's growth and worked to diffuse its lessons. Lecturers studied home economics bulletins from the agricultural colleges and led discussions about their topics; Grange leaders, such as Elizabeth Patterson and Hannah McK. Lyons, saw that an abundance of information and advice from college home economics departments got into Grange publications.

Home economics was a crusade for those women because it promised to solve the old problems of drudgery and isolation. Grangers had long said that women were exhausted, stultified, and even maddened by their excessive work. Drudgery blighted farm homes, they said, because it prevented women from attaining their highest domestic possibilities. So they tried to help overworked women by exhorting them to distinguish between necessary and unnecessary tasks, and to do the former efficiently. Home economics preached the same gospel but with the awesome authority of science.48 That authority, Grange women trusted, made it the sovereign cure for drudgery.


NOTES
1.
Sarah Margaret Stephenson, "The Social and Educational Aspects of the Grange, 1870-1934" (M.A. thesis, University of Wisconsin, 1935), 19.
2.
Gardner, The Grange, 519.
3.
Journal of Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Session of the Pennsylvania State Grange, 1885, 34-36.
4.
Jones, History of Agriculture in Ohio to 1880, 188.
5.
Grosh, Mentor in the Granges and Homes of Patrons of Husbandry, 122.
6.
Bengt Ankarloo, "Agriculture and Women's Work: Directions of Change in the West, 1700-1900," Journal of Family History 5 (Summer 1979): 111-20 is a very broad description of "de-feminization." Sally McMurry, Families and Farm- houses in 19th Century America ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), especially Chapter 4, applies that idea to progressive American farm families.
7.
Ruth Schwartz Cowan, More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave ( New York: Basic Books, 1983), 98- 99; McMurry, Families and Farmhouses, 96; Matthews, "Just A Housewife", 111 generalizes that "time spent in housework declined little if at all in the first two-

-85-

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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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