Friday, March 6, 2020

The Women's Land Army of WWII

Image: Kevsphotos from Pixabay
Shortly after World War II began, the U.S. government realized that in order to feed the country and its troops, rationing would be necessary in addition to promoting the concept of Victory Gardens. What they didn’t realize until nearly halfway through the war, was that food production and harvesting needed to be coordinated in a nation-wide effort.

In 1940, the population of the United States was approximately 132 million people. Across the country there were nearly six million farms that provided food for the nation. However, by 1942 over two million men had left agricultural jobs. By 1943 another four million men were gone from the farms, and the U.S. was now feeding other countries. Combined with gas and rubber rationing that put an end to the use of migrant workers, the agriculture industry was suffering. Badly.

Across the country, there were major concerns about widespread crop loss. As a result, many states and private organizations created programs that trained high schoolers, conscientious objectors, prisoners of war, and interned Japanese-Americans. But these workers were still not enough.

Florence Hall (
Finally, in November 1942 ranking officials in the Department of Agriculture began to move ahead with the creation of a Women’s Land Army. However, it would take another six months of committee meetings before congressional approval of the Emergency Farm Labor Program and the assignment of Senior Home Economist Florence L. Hall as its head, a “temporary” position she held until 1946!

Women were not expected to have farming experience, but applicants had to be physically fit and possess manual dexterity, patience, curiosity, and patriotism. They also had to be at least eighteen years old. Upon completion of their training, the women were assigned to a farm. Some recruits lived at home and participated in day-haul programs, referred to as the “Housewives Specials.” Recruits from distant cities lived in housing provided by the farmer, or in government camps if there were enough workers to qualify for defense housing to be built or requisitioned. In the late spring each year, posters, brochures, and radio advertisements encouraged teachers to work the farms during their summer vacations, and women in other industries to use their two week vacation time to work on the farms.

Accident and life insurance were also provided, and the women could purchase additional insurance as well as a uniform. The women supplied their own blankets, sheets, towels and clothes. They were also required to make their own beds and wash their own dishes.

When all was said and done, the Women’s Land Army program was considered a great success. Women with little or no agricultural experience saved countless crops from rotting in the fields and provided food to a world at war.

How are your gardening skills?

A Love Not Forgotten: Allison White should be thrilled about her upcoming wedding. The problem? She’s still in love with her fiancĂ©, Chaz, who was declared dead after being shot down over Germany in 1944. Can she put the past behind her and settle down to married life with the kindhearted man who loves her?

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is also a trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore and was born a stone's throw fro Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historic places all her life, and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors. Connect with her: WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterestGoodreads, or BookBub.


  1. Thanks for the post! I don't want to be political, but it's good to have a reminder that the government CAN work for good!!!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, and I know what you mean about having the government. Thanks for making that point.

  2. Thank you for sharing your interesting post!

  3. I love your article! I've always been fascinated with the WLA that was also a part of home front WWI which my next novel is about. Tranquility Point releases in May and my heroine in the story joins the WLA and works at a "farmette." The US involvement in WWI was only a year and. a half as opposed to the years of involvement in WWII. Therefore the WLA had only been established in a small number of states by the time the war ended. I love learning about the strong women who contributed to the war effort in both wars.

    1. Thanks Pam! I'm with you about learning about the strong women who contributed to the war effort (and just about any war effort in the history of man!)

  4. Hi Linda. I didn't realize our country had the women's farm movement. I thought it only existed in England. Thanks for educationg me!