Monday, March 06, 2017

Women's History Month 2017: Women's Land Army

I've mentioned in the previous post that when men leave for war, women worked to fill in the gaps. Jobs that were previously believed  not suitable for women were suddenly available to them because of the war. Public transportation, factory work, and agriculture were just a few of the nation's needs to be met. Agriculture was one vital area because we were not only feeding our soldiers and citizens on the home front but also the starving civilians and allied soldiers in Europe.

The Women's Land Army was a civilian group that replaced male farm laborers.
"From 1917 to 1920 the Woman's Land Army brought thousands of city workers, society women, artists, business professionals, and college students into rural America to take over the farm work after men were called to wartime service. These women wore military-style uniforms, lived in communal camps, and did what was considered "men's work"-- plowing fields, driving tractors, planting, harvesting, and hauling lumber."*

The Women's Land Army was modeled after the British version where the young women were referred to as Land Girls. In America they were referred to as "farmerettes" meant to be an unflattering  term stemming from "suffragette." These working women were not initially embraced by male farmers but eventually they received the respect they deserved. Though they worked just as hard as the men they replaced, their jobs were seen as only temporary.(Note that the poster above states "until the boys come  back.")

Women's Land Army of California. Library of Congress. Flickr the Commons

The Women's Land Army didn't just serve during World War I, the next generation of young women also volunteered for farm and timber work during World War II.

  • Do you have photos that suggest your ancestress participated in the Women's Land Army?
  • Have you checked newspapers?
  • Have you checked for job related documents via NARA? Remember this would have been a federal job and NARA archives federal records. One collection I found for the Women's Land Army in Nebraska is found at Kansas City in RG 183

Additional Resources:
My posting about the book Fruits of Victory: The Women's Land Army of American in the Great War

National Archives - Prologue - To the Rescue of the Crops

Smithsonian - World War I 100 Years Later Before Rosie the Riveter, Farmerettes Went to Work

*Elaine F Weiss Fruits of Victory (

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