Sunday, June 14, 2015


Last week I was asked to complete a written interview for an upcoming quilt magazine article. A few of the questions revolved around The Farmer's Wife magazine and it got me to thinking that although I talk about the magazine when I speak at quilt guilds, etc., I rarely mention it on my blog. So for this and a few more blog posts, I will be writing about an issue that is hundred and one years old this month.

Yes, the condition of the magazine is rough, (the cover is detached, too) but I dare say none of us would look much better after 101 years!

Although I will call it a magazine, as you can see the complete title is just, The Farmer's Wife. It is never referred to as a magazine, but rather a paper. That makes sense because not only is it made of newsprint, but it is as large as a folded newspaper measuring 11" wide and 17" from top to bottom. The interior is written in black ink; the only color being on the front cover.

The number of pages in each issue varied greatly throughout the years. In this issue there are only 24  but since the type is so very small (readers must have had excellent eyesight!) it would take several hours to read it thoroughly.

Photographs were frequently used, but I imagine even when the magazine was brand new the images weren't very sharp. More often than photographs they printed pencil or ink drawings of the best quality as illustrations.

The following two pictures were included to illustrate two different fiction stories. The stories must have been extremely popular since they always held prominent positions in the magazine. Although some of the stories were complete in one issue, some continued for six months. An excellent way to sell magazines, I think!

The following two letters were printed in the magazine under a column entitled, "Our Home Club." The Home Club was a catch-all of letters to the editor, recipes, requests for advice and handy hints.

KEEPING HAPPY AT HOME; J. K. from Missouri

I think there is no kind of life more happy in average than the good farm life. When we came to this place eight years ago there was nothing but a house and barn in the middle of a field. We went to work with zeal and worked hard. Now we have the most attractive place in the neighborhood. First we planted fruit and shade trees. Now we have fruit in abundance and our shade trees are the envy of our neighbors. We also have small fruits galore. Our garden is a joy to all. We have many conveniences for making our work lighter. We put up ice every winter, then we can make splendid butter, as well as keep our food-stuffs sweet and fresh during the summer months. For the social side of country life, we have all sorts of affairs,--box socials, spelling bees--attended one last week and spelled down the entire class! I find much enjoyment in such things. Then I have my piano and I like to ride horseback and find entertainment in books. I always find plenty of time to do these things though I make all my own clothes and sometimes sew for others too.


I have always lived on a farm and consider it the best place in the world. I have six boys and one girl. My oldest boy is fifteen and my youngest boy two and I am a widow. My children and I carry on the farming with but little hired help. We live on a ranch of 720 acres, milk cows and take our sweet cream six miles to a separator every day in the summer. We have pigs, calves and chickens and some guinea fowl. My three youngest boys older than my two babies go to school most of the time. I did not see a woman from Thanksgiving till in March. Do not have time to get lonesome. I have made fancy work, pieced three quilts (crazy work on a machine), hooked a rug, besides all the regular work for a family of eight.

More about the June 1914 issue next time.


Mary @ Neat and Tidy said...

My favorite aunt was born in 1893, and I often think of her when I see anything antique - genuine antique as in over 100 years old. She was raised on a farm and married a farmer. I wonder if she read The Farmer's Wife. I wish I knew her as a young bride.

I just received your newest book. I'm thinking of making all the blocks in red and white.

TheEclecticAbuela said...

Most of the women in my family at the time of this issue were farmers' wives--fascinating!

Lane Hill House said...

Proverbs 31 woman; and a widow, youngest age two, and 720 acres... my, oh, my. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have these copies coming in your mailbox or brought from your monthly trip to town, perhaps?
Thank you for this post! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House (P.S. My gift to myself this past Christmas was The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt: Letters from 1920s farm wives and the 111 blocks they inspired. Thank you for putting it together for us.)

Mary Ann said...

My husband grew up on a farm. Some of the happiest days for my children were days spent on the farm. Many lessons learned that they have carried with them to this day.

matty said...

What courage these women had! Their attitude would be a welcome breath of fresh air today, wouldn't they?? I would have loved to have known them all!