The experience of women living on Prairie farms in the 1930s came alive for undergraduate history student Brandi Adams when she delved into the archives of The Western Producer, a farm weekly that's been an important source of news for farm families for almost 100 years.
Working with digital copies of October issues of the paper published over a 12-year span between the two World Wars, Adams read countless letters and articles written by women of the time and published in the paper's "Mainly for Women" section.
Originally done as a history assignment, her paper, "Violet McNaughton and the ideal Prairie woman," was later published in the winter 2019 edition of Alberta History.
Adams found that the women created a community through the pages of The Western Producer, and that they shared values such as hard work, self-sacrifice, and frugality, together with a belief in the importance of community and the value of education.
The "Mainly for Women" section was edited by farm leader and social activist Violet McNaughton. Adams says McNaughton wrote articles aimed at empowering Prairie women; she encouraged them to take an active role in their community and improve their way of life, focusing on issues such as education and access to clean water.