Cultivating domesticity : the Homemakers' Clubs of Saskatchewan, 1911-1961.
Milne, Jennifer E
On January 31, 1911, the Homemakers' Clubs of Saskatchewan became an official organisation under the direction of the University of Saskatchewan. Established to provide isolated rural women with companionship, access to education, and the opportunity to carry out community service, Homemakers' Clubs appealed to thousands of farm women because they provided the means by which they could improve themselves, their farm homes, and their communities. Its appeal also lay in the fact that the organisation remained non-political and non-sectarian, focusing instead on women's primary responsibilities to their homes and their families. To that end, Homemakers' Clubs embraced a domestic ideology that institionalised notions of gender and celebrated women's roles in the home. Given that the nature of farm women's work was not restricted to the household, however, Homemakers' Clubs allowed rural women to redefine an urban domesticity to include their farming responsibilities. Moreover, in a setting where gender lines were often blurred and the division of labour was not always strictly defined, membership in an organisation that reinforced gender roles, promoted family and community life, and embraced a traditional mandate provided farm women with a level of respectability and femininity that was often lost in a farming setting. Finally, the domestic ideology under which the Homemakers' Clubs operated allowed its members to find recognition and validation in their work, and, in their goals to elevate home life, to legitimise their work, and to adjust domestic ideology to include their farming responsibilities, the organisation became a space in which its members discussed, debated, explored, and, in some cases, challenged common perceptions of women; they subtly challenged the status quo and demanded validation and recognition for their work in and contributions to their farms and communities. As such, an organisation that may outwardly appear to be a traditional women's organisation devoted strictly to the exchange of recipes and household advice, was, in actuality, quietly political and provided farm women with a sense of identity that enabled them to contribute fundamentally to their rural homes, families, and communities.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeWaiser, William A.; Korinek, Valerie J.; Biggs, C. Lesley
Copyright DateDecember 2003
Saskatchewan farm women
rural women's work
farm women's work
western Canadian agriculture
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