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National Grange Blog: Celebrating Women’s History Month

By Samantha Johnson, National Grange Blog (3/4/11)

  MARCH 8, 2011 --

Since the Grange began, it has strived to support equality for women within the Grange and in their communities. The Grange let it be known how important women were to the agricultural community by declaring that no Grange could be formed without at least four women. Four officer’s positions could and still can only be held by women, giving women an equal vote in the organization.

March is Women’s History Month and we as Grangers should be celebrating our proud history and Grange women of past and present. Caroline Hall, Temperance Kelley, Eva McDowell, Jennie Buell, Jeanne C. Carr, Eliza Gifford, Sarah G. Baird, Mary Mayo, and Eleanor Roosevelt are some names you will easily recognize. All of these women have affected the Grange and the world.

Which of these women do you know? Caroline Hall, the Grange’s eighth founder, contributed money, compiled one of the first Grange songbooks, handled the organizational work, and served as the first Ceres, created for women only.

Temperance Kelley, who gave her husband, Oliver Kelley, enough money to continue with organizing the Grange, encouraged his dream of creating a fraternal organization for farmers.

Eva McDowell served as Treasurer of the National Grange for twenty-six years.

Maybe the name that stands out to you most is Sarah G. Baird, the first woman to be a State Master. She became State Master of Minnesota in 1895 and would stay in that position for seventeen years.

Eliza Gifford and Jennie Buell were outspoken Grangers who fought for women’s suffrage with Susan B. Anthony, leader of NAWSA (National American Woman Suffrage Association) and campaigned with Frances Willard, the leader of the WCTU (Woman’s Christian Temperance Union), in support of temperance legislation.

Jeanne C. Carr helped to found the California State Grange, was one of the first women to run for Lecturer of the California State Grange, and campaigned to keep women’s suffrage an issue in California and the State Grange behind the issue.

Mary Mayo wrote for the Michigan Grange newspaper, spoke publicly on behalf of the Grange, helped recruit members, strength the order, and served as the chair for the Michigan State Grange Women’s Committee for fourteen years.

And last but not least, Eleanor Roosevelt; First Lady of the United States was a Grange member for over 25 years.

This is just a small part of women’s history within the Grange. Learn more about these women and others and honor them not only during Women’s History Month but throughout the whole year. 

Samantha Johnson 
-Sales, Benefits, & Programs Director

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