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Chapter 13
What the Grange Stands for in Unique Activities of Women

In 1867, the legal status of women was about the same as that of the then recently-freed slaves. The Founders of the Grange took exception to this attitude within the organization which they visualized.

As related in Chapter 2, they took the then unprecedented step of deciding and acting immediately to put women on an equal status with men in the Grange. They thereby created an unique family organization-the first in history to give women a high place in the sphere of things, sharing equally the most exalted positions of the Grange with her "brother." The Grange structure from the very beginning has likewise given women responsibilities commensurate with their abilities and privileges.

So it is that over the years, this basic decision of the Founders has proved to be one of the more important strengthening factors of the Grange.

Home Economics Emphasis-A Better Grange

In 1867, plenty of work was found for the gentler sex. Not only did they handle the "homemaking" functions of the Grange Hall, and in Grange meetings the embellishment of the decorations and arrangement of ornaments by the proper placing of the flowers of nature and the important food and social functions usually expected of women then, but they did far more than this.

They demonstrated their abilities as Lecturers, as officers at other stations, and as committee chairmen and members. They took the leadership in community and in youth activities that have characterized the beginning and the entire life of the Grange and its program.

Better homemaking became a vital feature of Grange programs and activities. This later led to the appointment of a permanent Committee on Home Economics in the National Grange in 1910, which was then described as follows:

Home Economics stands for all the touches of home life-the structure of the house, its furnishings, equipment, management and sanitary care, the care and training of the children, the purchase and preparation of food, and everything else that. pertains to the work of homemaking.

It is surely the duty of the Grange to become more active in furthering this work among its members. We recommend that State Granges especially should emphasize this work and furnish good speakers for their State, Pomona, and Subordinate meetings, to arouse interest in the study of the home.

Encourage exhibits at State and County Fairs to be as educational and helpful in matters of improved homemaking as in agriculture and livestock; to let everything be shown that would tend to uplift the home and its surroundings.

Since 1911, then, Home Economics has been a major activity within the Grange. The National Home Economics Committee, creating ideas and helping State, Pomona and Subordinate Granges to build and carry on outstanding programs, has been working with earnest and dedicated women who have contributed more toward building Grange into a stronger force throughout rural America than possibly could have been done in any other than the truly family structure. The report of the Home Economics Committee is a scheduled and required item in the order of business of the "regular" Subordinate Grange meeting.

So important has the Home Economics work by women become that by vote of the National Grange, official regalia has been provided, or authorized. Often the Home Economics Committee is called upon to furnish, or participate in, the literary and educational program of ,the Grange Lecturers. Normally, the Home Economics Committee participates in most of the total balanced program of activities of the Grange . . . its community service program, in its work with school and educational authorities in community, county, state, and throughout the nation.

The women of the Grange, through their Home Economics activities, have contributed immeasurably to most of the more worthwhile projects and activities of the Grange as a whole. It would indeed be impossible to have a balanced Grange program without a reasonably effective "women's work" or Home Economics program of activities.

Mobilizing Women's Talents Today

Capable Grange women are a major force today both in building a stronger and better rural America and stronger, more active, more effective Granges, as well as promoting international understanding.

Necessarily diversified, the Home Economics program today includes:

  • Projects for membership building, and for greater pride and joy in membership.
  • Projects for community service-long-range and emergency aid. (See Chapter 14 for heartwarming stories of this type of service.)
  • Projects for more appreciation of the Grange-such projects as the Memorial Library in the National Grange Building in Washington, D.C.; various fundraising projects for local organizations, and beautification projects.
  • Projects to aid the less fortunate people of the world. Examples: "Canning jars to Greece;" "Self-Helps to the Philippines," such as agricultural hand tools, woodworking kits, physical education kits, sewing machines, and medical aid kits; "Medico in Cambodia." A current project is "Community Water Pumps to Latin America" to provide fresh water and to combat disease.
  • Projects for the home and family, such as: Home safety programs-"No Falls" promotion and "Fireproof Your Family." Educational programs, such as: Consumer Credit, Care of Fabrics, Deceptive Packaging, Home Decoration, Flower Arrangement, and Color in the Home.
  • Health Cooperative Programs with all health agencies, the promotion of which includes such educational and financial projects as a special national project to raise funds for the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in which a room is named for the Grange. Over $14,000 was contributed for this Grange Seminar Room.
  • Debt Retirement which continues to provide funds to reduce the debt on the National Grange headquarters building. Thereby, funds from building rental receipts will be released for all other phases of the total Grange program.


Contests to create interest in Home Economics Department activities include: (1) National Grange All-Cotton Sewing Contest with approximately 50,000 Grange and non-Grange contestants; National Grange Needlework Contest with competition in crocheting, knitting, and embroidery; (3) Sampler Contest to bring to the attention of the women the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Grange and promote historical appreciation; and (4) the Flag Contest to obtain a design for an official Grange flag. And there have been many others.

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