Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Before Rosie the Riveter: The Women's Land Army

Text from a Smithsonian magazine article by Elaine F. Weiss

During WWI, the Woman’s Land Army of America mobilized women into sustaining American farms and building national pride.  From 1917 to 1919, the Woman's Land Army of America brought more than 20,000 city and town women to rural America to take over  farm work after men were called to war. Most of these women had never before worked on a farm, but they were soon plowing fields, driving tractors, planting, and harvesting. The Land Army's "farmerettes" were paid wages equal to male farm laborers and were protected by an eight-hour workday. For many, the farmerettes were shocking at first — wearing trousers! —  but farmers began to rely upon the women workers.

Ruth Anderson of Evanston IL, in Her WLA Uniform
Inspired by the women of Great Britain, organized as the Land Lassies, the Woman’s Land Army of America was established by a consortium of women’s organizations — including gardening clubs, suffrage societies, women’s colleges, civic groups, and the YWCA.  The WLA provided a fascinating example of women mobilizing themselves and challenged conventional thinking about gender roles. Like Rosie the Riveter a generation later, the Land Army farmerette became a wartime icon.

Read the full article at:

Images from the Library of Congres

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