On Behalf of the Family Farm: Iowa Farm Women's Activism since 1945

On Behalf of the Family Farm: Iowa Farm Women's Activism since 1945

by Jenny Barker Devine

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On Behalf of the Family Farm traces the development of women’s activism and agrarian feminisms in the Midwest after 1945, as farm women’s lives were being transformed by the realities of modern agriculture. Author Jenny Barker Devine demonstrates that in an era when technology, depopulation, and rapid economic change dramatically altered rural life, midwestern women met these challenges with their own feminine vision of farm life. Their “agrarian feminisms” offered an alternative to, but not necessarily a rejection of, second-wave feminism.

Focusing on women in four national farm organizations in Iowa—the Farm Bureau, the Farmers Union, the National Farm Organization, and the Porkettes—Devine highlights specific moments in time when farm women had to reassess their roles and strategies for preserving and improving their way of life. Rather than retreat from the male-dominated world of agribusiness and mechanized production, postwar women increasingly asserted their identities as agricultural producers and demanded access to public spaces typically reserved for men.

Over the course of several decades, they developed agrarian feminisms that combined cherished rural traditions with female empowerment, cooperation, and collaboration. Iowa farm women emphasized working partnerships between husbands and wives, women’s work in agricultural production, and women’s unique ways of understanding large-scale conventional farming. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609381707
Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Publication date: 05/01/2013
Series: Iowa and the Midwest Experience
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 206
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

An assistant professor at Illinois College, Jenny Barker Devine has won several prizes for her research, including the Zaffarano Prize for Graduate Student Research at Iowa State University (she was the first nonscientist to win it), the Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for Research on Women in Politics, the Phi Alpha Theta Doctoral Scholarship, and the Ernest G. Hildner, Jr., Faculty Award of Illinois College. She has also received research grants from the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Richard S. Brownlee Fund of the State Historical Society of Missouri, and the State Historical Society of Iowa. 

Table of Contents

Contents Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter One: This Rich Gift of Voluntary Leadership: Rural Women's Activism in Iowa Chapter Two: As Natural a Process: Women's Leadership in Township Farm Bureau Clubs Chapter Three: Does Your Man Belong to the Farmers Union? : Women and Cold War Politics in the Iowa Farmers Union Chapter Four: Because Somebody Had to Do It: Women, Families, and the National Farmers Organization Chapter Five: Hop to the Top with the Iowa Chop: The Iowa Porkettes and Transformative Leadership Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index

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