The April, 1917 issue of Ladies Home Journal suggested that women whose children are grown may want to get a job. The magazine described a new extension program that was looking for experienced homemakers, which the magazine dubbed “professional grandmas”, to help younger women learn the ropes of homemaking.
Here’s a few excerpts from the article:
The “Professional Grandma”
We do not generally think of a “grandma” as having a profession. But the modern grandma is still young at middle age, young enough to want a profession of her own and a wider outlet for her activities than her own family supplies.
Through a new provision of Uncle Sam, the middle-aged homemaker is now enabled to give the benefit of her large experience to women who are still grappling with the many problems of homemaking, for by the passage of the Smith-Lever Act, a “profession for grandmas” has been created. This work was to carry into the homes of farm women better ideals, newer methods and instructions in how to manage homes, cook, and care for children so as to reduce the drudgery of farm housekeeping and raising the standard of farm home living.
Here is the story of Mrs. M___, one of the first “professional grandmothers” in Massachusetts. A woman past forty who has raised a family and therefore has twenty-odd years of practical experience in home management she is also a woman of tact and sympathy.
Once a week, in the little village library she calls together the forty or more country homemakers in the surrounding district and talks to them intimately on food nutrition and on arranging their kitchens, how to choose labor-saving devices, and other problems of the homemaker.
Then she hires a horse and buggy, and visits personally the homes of those who had been at the group meeting. Once seated in the farm kitchen she gains the confidence of its mistress, noting that the kitchen might easily be arranged to save more steps, talking to the woman about the family meals, how much those meals cost and how they were prepared.
Another “grandmother” is Mrs. L__ in Illinois. Her state agricultural station told her that she was just the woman they needed as a canning demonstrator to go from county to county.
There is another “professional grandmother” in Indiana who gives cooking demonstrations at farmers’ institutes throughout the state. Sometimes this demonstration lasts two days, but generally it is what she laughingly calls a “one-night stand.”
Last spring I talked with the supervisor of this extension work in one of the largest states, and she said to me: “If I only knew where to turn to get the right women. We have more of a demand for workers than I can supply, and in a few years when the work becomes more established, still more will be needed.”
The “Professional Grandma” by Mrs. Christine Frederick (Ladies Home Journal: April, 1917)