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Behind the Book — Reviews

"Weiss delves deeply into an overlooked aspect of life on the American home front during World War I, which coincided with the peak of the woman's suffrage movement. The war caused a sea change in opinions about what was men's and women's work in many fields, including agriculture, just as food riots erupted in 1917 as people rebelled against rising prices, some of which quadrupled during the war. Weiss surveys the spectrum of individuals who put American women to work on farms across the country at this critical time, including Barnard College's Virginia Gildersleeve and Mount Holyoke's Mary Woolley, and provides fresh gender history as she highlights the contribution of many seldom-considered feminists. She also stresses the long-term contribution women made to labor history during this time by insisting on an eight-hour day and exposes conflict within the women's movement over how to address war-related issues and civilian farming efforts. Weiss' excellent work of cross-disciplinary scholarship offers readers a unique look at how WWI changed society."
— Booklist: The American Library Association

"Weiss, who has written for such publications as the New York Times and Harper's, chronicles the largely forgotten history of the Woman's Land Army (WLA), a group of women in the United States who left their homes and college dorms in droves to volunteer when American involvement in World War I called young men from the fields to the trenches of Europe. Weiss shows how these "farmerettes" faced an uphill battle, as they were often met with disdain by shorthanded farmers and Washington politicians who did not feel the situation was dire enough to warrant hiring women to do men's work. WLA architects, many of whom earned their stripes in the suffrage movement, developed a blueprint for managing a group anywhere in the United States, and they were able to secure wages-and an eight-hour workday-equal to their male counterparts. The group was disbanded after the war, but the farmerettes helped pave the way for women working during World War II. Weiss effectively chronicles the birth of the WLA movement and the dedicated women behind it. Recommended for both scholarly readers and interested history buffs."
— Library Journal

"Elaine Weiss has written an important book on an overlooked subject. Fruits of Victory: The Woman's Land Army in the Great War covers the virtually unknown story of the "farmettes" who joined American's land army to feed the nation during World War I. This engaging account makes not only good reading, but also contributes to our understanding of both women's history and the home front during the war."
— Jean Baker, Bennett-Harwood professor of history, Goucher College. Author of Sisters: Lives of America's Suffragists

"Weiss plows through a wide variety of primary sources and produces a bumper crop of determined women, stubborn men, telling anecdotes, and rich details, all part of a surprising and surprisingly moving story of mobilization and organization, patriotism and sexism. The army of "farmerettes," drawn from the classrooms of the "Seven Sisters" and urban factories, who came together as "soldiers of the soil" to harvest everything from cherries in Michigan to cotton in Georgia and the women who recruited, trained, and championed them leave an indelible imprint in this well-told tale of the remarkable effort of American women to feed a nation at war."
— Kathryn Allamong Jacob, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

"Bravo to Elaine Weiss! She has rescued a fascinating chapter of our history from undeserved obscurity and tells the story of the Woman's Land Army of World War I with undeniable verve."
— Deborah Dash Moore, Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor of History, University of Michigan, author of GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation