On the Farm Front: The Women's Land Army in World War II

TitleOn the Farm Front: The Women's Land Army in World War II
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsCarpenter, Stephanie A.
Number of Pages214
PublisherNorthern Illinois University Press
CityDeKalb, IL

Rosie the Riveter is an icon for women's industrial contribution to World War II, but history has largely overlooked the three million women who served on America's agricultural front. The Women's Land Army sent volunteers to farms, canneries, and dairies across the country, accounting for the majority of wartime agricultural labor. This volume tells for the first time the remarkable story of these women who worked to ensure both "Freedom from Want" at home and victory abroad. Formed in 1943 as part of the Emergency Farm Labor Program, the WLA placed its workers in areas where American farmers urgently needed assistance. Many farmers in even the most desperate areas, however, initially opposed women working their land. Rural administrators in the Midwest and the South yielded to necessity and employed several hundred thousand women as farm laborers by the end of the war, but those in the Great Plains and eastern Rocky Mountains remained hesitant, suffering serious agricultural and financial losses as a consequence. In this volume, the author reveals for the first time how the WLA revolutionized the national view of farming. By accepting all available women as agricultural workers, farmers abandoned traditional labor and stereotypical social practices. When the WLA officially disbanded in 1945, many of its women chose to remain in their agricultural jobs rather than return to a full-time home life or prewar employment. This volume illuminates the Women's Land Army's unique contribution to prosperity and victory, showing how this landmark organization changed the role of women in American society.

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