Photos: Women running the farm during WWII

victory garden during WWII
© Library of Congress

War wasn't just a man's game, and it wasn't just about weapons. Soldiers gotta eat.

A week or two ago, I ran into a bunch of old photos of "victory gardens." During the world wars, the government asked people to plant these small gardens to feed the nation because nobody likes war rations. I couldn't stop looking at the photos; I guess I got a kick out of seeing a suburban man planting cabbage in the grassy space between the sidewalk and the street.

But the men weren't necessarily the ones growing food during that time period. As the men went to war, women became farmers. The government constructed a whole campaign to get women out of the house and into the fields. Take a look.

"There's a feminine hand at the controls of many of America's activities these days," says the caption that came with this photo from Getty, god of archives. "Like many other farm wives whose husbands are engaged in war work, Mrs. William Wood manages a 120 acre farm in Colona, Michigan, with little male assistance. With a crop of corn, tomatoes and rasberries to harvest, she still finds time to care for her own Victory garden and to attend a first-aid class. And for the scrap drive Mrs. Wood salvaged 1,600 pounds of outworn metal and rubber articles from the farm, and contributed them to her local collection agency."

"Escambia Farms, Florida. Elena, Kitty, John and George McLelland look over their Victory garden on a Sunday."

"Washington, D.C. Mrs. Mestland planting peas on her plot in a victory garden on Fairlawn Avenue, Southeast."

Men: Women need to work!
Decades later ...
Men: Why are all of these women working? And they want equal pay? What is this?

"Jeffersontown, Kentucky. The Jefferson County Community cannery, started by the WPA (Work Projects Administration), now conducted by the state (?) vocational education department. Women pay three cents each for cans and two cents per can for use of the pressure cooker. Girls canning some of the beans raised in their victory gardens."

"New York, New York. Children's school victory gardens on First Avenue between Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth Streets."

"Victory Gardens--for family and country. These Victory Gardeners are transferring good top soil to improve the fertility of their garden. Like all good gardeners, they realize the importance of keeping the soil productive."

Unless, of course, you're this woman :)

"Washington, D.C. Leslie Edward Carr of the British purchasing commission with his wife at their victory garden on Fairlawn Avenue, Southeast."

Photos: Women running the farm during WWII
War wasn't just a man's game, and it wasn't just about weapons. Soldiers gotta eat.

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