Wednesday, August 22, 2012


If you didn't already know, I am the proud owner of over 300 copies of The Farmer's Wife magazine. Have I read them all? No! Have I even opened them all? No! Do I wish I had the time to read every article in all 300+ copies? You bet!

Not long ago I received an email that said, "My grandmother was Sally Sod." "Oh my goodness!" I said, while my eyes bugged out of my head, "I know Sally Sod!" Even with the limited reading of my magazines, I knew that the name, Sally Sod, was famous in The Farmer's Wife and came up over and over again, particularly in the Letters to the Editor section. I tried to recall what I knew about Sally, but all I could remember was that she was linked to some kind of controversy. (I have previously posted one of Sally's letters in this blog--you will find it in five posts, from June 28, 2010-
July 12, 2010. Please read it if you haven't already. She was a very gifted writer and funny, too.)

I then began the search through my magazines to discover what this controversy was all about. Here is what I found: The Farmer's Wife often published "Success Stories" written about a particular farm wife. They usually were, at least,  full page articles (11" x 17" size pages with rather small type) about the woman and her family, complete with photographs. Sally had made comments about these "Success Stories." (More about what she wrote later.)

With this introduction behind us, I will now quote from the magazine itself. This was written by Field Editor Grace Farrington Gray in January 1927.

"When The Farmer's Wife began its Success Feature three years ago (1924), it started more than a series of stories. It started a train of thought in the minds of our Subscribers and a general discussion of the subject. People began to ask: 'What is Success? What is the unit of measure? Who has a right to be called successful?'

Some people took it for granted that the test was making money. Others believed that nothing except community work should be counted. Still others felt that only the average farm woman who was typical of her class, had any place in such a series.

Meantime we went about the country, wherever we happened to hear of a woman who was called by her neighbors or by state leaders 'successful'; took a camera picture and a word picture of her and of her work; and presented these to our readers strickly on their merits. We left it to our public judge the issue.

Some of our subscribers have written to us on the subject. One actual farm woman who prefers to be known as Sally Sod, brings the whole argument to a head so well that we decided to print the correspondence and give our readers the benefit of the discussion.

Sally Sod's first letter appears on this page together with her criticism; followed by our reply and defense and her answer and summing up. We observe the ancient and honored custom of giving the woman 'the last word.'

Whatever is Your angle in the matter, we feel sure that You will enjoy Sally Sod's sprightly letters. If You--our individual reader--wish to have a voice in the debate we shall be glad to hear from you."

Even though the above paragraphs were written 85 years ago, I think many women still wrestle with the subject of "Success" in their own lives. Next time, I will post Sally Sod's first letter and perhaps you will want to enter the discussion.