Rediscovering the Great War’s “Farmerettes”


 
   

Fruits of Victory

The Woman's Land Army of America in the Great War

 
352 pages; 6" x 9"

HARDCOVER
$29.95   $23.96
Available: December 2008
978-1-59797-273-4
Please call Longleaf Services at 1-800-848-6224 to place your order
or visit nebraskapress.unl.edu.
PAPERBACK
$19.95   $15.96
Available: August 2015
978-1-61234-719-6
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Description:

Imagine a more controversial Rosie the Riveter—a generation older and more outlandish for her time. She was the “farmerette” of the Woman’s Land Army of America (WLA), doing a man’s job on the home front during World War I.

From 1917 to 1920 the WLA sent more than twenty thousand urban women into rural America to take over farm work after the men went off to war and food shortages threatened the nation. These women, from all social and economic strata, lived together in communal camps and did what was considered “men’s work”: plowing fields, driving tractors, planting, harvesting, and hauling lumber. The Land Army was a civilian enterprise organized and financed by women. It insisted on fair labor practices and pay equal to male laborers’ wages for its workers and taught women not only agricultural skills but also leadership and management techniques. Despite their initial skepticism, farmers became the WLA’s loudest champions, and the farmerette was celebrated as an icon of American women’s patriotism and pluck.

The WLA’s short but spirited life foreshadowed some of the most significant social issues of the twentieth century: women’s changing roles, the problem of class distinctions in a democracy, and the physiological and psychological differences between men and women.

The dramatic story of the WLA is vividly retold here using long-buried archival material, allowing a fascinating chapter of America’s World War I experience to be rediscovered.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)

Elaine F. Weiss is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and on National Public Radio. She is a frequent correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor.

Reviews/Endorsements:

"The most extensively researched and far-reaching examination of the Land Army to date. . . . A wealth of material that scholars and teachers of U.S. women's history, American agricultural history, and the American experience in World War I will want to have at their fingertips."
American Historical Review, October 2009

“Weiss effectively chronicles the birth of the WLA movement and the dedicated women behind it. Recommended for both scholarly readers and interested history buffs."
Library Journal, April 1, 2009

“Weiss’s excellent work of cross-disciplinary scholarship offers readers a unique look at how WWI changed society."
Booklist, March 2009

"Bravo to Elaine Weiss! She has rescued a fascinating chapter of our history from undeserved obscurity and tells the story of the Woman's Land Army of World War I with undeniable verve."
Deborah Dash Moore, author of GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation

“Elaine Weiss has written an important book on an overlooked subject. Fruits of Victory: The Woman’s Land Army in the Great War covers the virtually unknown story of the “farmettes” who joined American’s land army to feed the nation during World War I. This engaging account makes not only good reading, but also contributes to our understanding of both women’s history and the home front during the war.”
Jean Baker, Bennett-Harwood professor of history, Goucher College

“Weiss plows through a wide variety of primary sources and produces a bumper crop of determined women, stubborn men, telling anecdotes, and rich details, all part of a surprising and surprisingly moving story of mobilization and organization, patriotism and sexism. The army of “farmerettes,” drawn from the classrooms of the “Seven Sisters” and urban factories, who came together as “soldiers of the soil” to harvest everything from cherries in Michigan to cotton in Georgia and the women who recruited, trained, and championed them leave an indelible imprint in this well-told tale of the remarkable effort of American women to feed a nation at war.”
Kathryn Allamong Jacob, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

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