Notes: Friendship Album, 1933: Episode 34

In this episode, Emmeline receives an unexpected offer while mulling over the latest news from Florence.

Let’s talk about the The Farmer’s Wife! As someone who owns at least fifty issues of this fabulous magazine, I have to say it’s one of my favorites–and it hasn’t been published since 1939.

I’ll admit that I’m a vintage magazine lover, especially vintage women’s magazines. The ads are marvelous, and the articles are so smart! I remember finding a cache of old McCall’s and Ladies’ Home Journals from the 1960s and ’70s, and there were reviews of opera records and serious films! But the advice columns were always my favorite part of any magazine. Can This Marriage Be Saved? My mom subscribed to LHJ through much of my childhood, and every month I looked forward to reading that column about people’s dysfunctional relationships. My own parents’ marriage was fine, so it wasn’t that. I think I just enjoyed the stories and the problem-solving.

If the articles in 1970s magazines were smart, the articles in The Farmer’s Wife were smarter. The issues I have are from the 1920s and ’30s (the magazine started publishing in 1897), and in the early 1930s foreign correspondents are reporting from Europe about the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. The subject of education, particular around the topic of consolidated schools, was a frequent topic.

My favorite part of each issue is the “Letters from Our Farm Women” section. If you’ve ever looked through The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt books, then you’re familiar with these letters, though most of the letters in Farmer’s Wife Quilt books focus on the positive side of farm life. The letters in the magazine cover a lot more territory, and some of them are written by women who are less than enthusiastic about the joys of country living. One of the fun things about the letters section is that it wasn’t unusual for a letter to be a response to a letter from an earlier issue, and some arguments lingered over the course of several months. Fun!

The Farmer’s Wife is also a great resource for anyone interested in food history. Some of the recipes shared areĀ  familiar, and some are quite … well, yucky.

Other subjects covered were fashion, gardening, childcare and sewing. Needless to say, the ads alone are worth the price of admission.

Having an excuse to invest in old issues of The Farmer’s Wife has been a definite bonus of writing Friendship Album, 1933. If you’re curious, copies are easily attained on eBay for reasonable prices. In its heyday, The Farmer’s Wife had a million subscribers, which mean there are plenty of old issues floating around!