MAY 12, 1943
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—Last evening Mr. Thomas Whittemore came with Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, to show us a film depicting the results of the work he has been doing on the Church of St. Sophia, in Turkey. The mosaics are the most beautiful color I have ever seen. One marvels at the patience and the beauty which were created so many years ago.
At my press conference yesterday morning, representatives from the Department of Agriculture came to talk about the mobilization of women for work on farms. Miss Florence Hall, from the Extension Service, has been appointed head of this work. She brought Miss Margaret Smith to model the work clothes, which are not obligatory but which are being suggested for work on the farm. The program is to be completely decentralized so that every state will do its own recruiting. They hope to set some standards for training, and also for the conditions under which women will work.
In Great Britain, of course, the women in the land army have many of the same benefits that the women in the factories have. They are included under social security and receive sickness insurance, pension and unemployment benefits.
We are dividing our program into full time, year-round workers and seasonal workers. The seasonal workers have to agree to do one month's work, and there is a requirement that the women must be at least eighteen years old. No ceiling on age has been set, so this may be a field in which some women over 45 may find useful employment.
Women are being asked if they will not only perform the work for which they have been especially trained, but if they will help out in the house, for many regular farm women feel that they are better equipped to work in the fields than some of the people who are trained for a short time. If they could be relieved of housework, they could do a great deal more out of doors.
Connecticut is running an all-year-round, two weeks course for would-be farm workers, and I imagine every state will gradually do something similar. Two of the training courses found most useful are those for women who wish to replace dairy and poultry men.
The Victory Corps high school group, which is also being recruited, work in a different way than this women's land army. They will go out in groups during the summer and be under supervision, probably living in camps or in some central place.