Successful Farming covers: The World Wars
Although Successful Farming magazine's focus remained on agriculture during World War I and World War II, those events permeated every aspect of society, including farming.
Several covers from those years depict scenes of farm families affected by war, both at home and abroad.
This issue was mailed on the 50th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, and by this time World War I had been going on for nearly a year. The painting by John Morton depicts a little girl placing flowers on the grave of a loved one while Grandpa stands by. He is wearing his Civil War uniform and medals, and we can see from his pinned-up sleeve and cane that he suffered injuries in the war.
This Successful Farming cover, entitled, "Christmas at Home," depicts life for many families during a time of war. A soldier rests for a moment and imagines his wife and baby safe at home, while baby reaches for a soldier ornament on the Christmas tree. Armistice Day occurred just a couple of weeks before this issue mailed, which stopped the fighting of World War I. The war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles seven months later.
Although World War I had ended, it took months before all of the troops were able to leave the Western Front. This cover, entitled "Reinforcements for Father," was painted by Frank Stick. While Father is busy tending to his horses, Mother is bringing him a wonderful surprise: their son, home safely from the war.
This painting by H. Willard Ortlip is entitled, "Father's Return." We know from the blue star banner hanging in the window that this mother and baby are waiting for a soldier to come home. Out the window, we see a platoon marching by, Father no doubt among them.
The Successful Farming cover was redesigned in the early 1940s, and this is the first Christmas cover featuring a photograph instead of a painting or drawing. Here, a soldier identified as Private Jim Lucas of Kansas opens a delivery from home. The box contains wrapped gifts, homemade goodies, and a framed photo of Mother. On the 7th of this month, the Japanese military attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The U.S. then declared war on Japan and became officially engaged in World War II.
- READ MORE: Wartime women fought from home
This layered cover includes an aerial photo of a patchwork quilt of farmland, an illustration of the farm of the future (as envisioned in 1942), and the American flag, complete with 48 stars. While the imagery depicts a hopeful future for the American farm, the war in Europe was raging and mass executions were taking place. This was the month Anne Frank's sister Margot was ordered to report to a Nazi work camp. The girls and their family went into hiding in Amsterdam the following day.
The American Junior Red Cross was formed during World War I. Students did everything from knitting scarves and planting victory gardens to raising money and sending care packages overseas. During World War II, nearly 20 million young Americans joined, including those practicing their first aid skills on this cover. "We're prepared at Oak Grove School," reads the cover.
The painting on this patriotic cover depicts Illinois dairy farmer E.J. Hieser raising the flag on his farm. At this time, World War II had been going on for four years, and V-E Day was still two years away. In July of 1943, Rome, Italy, and Hamburg, Germany, were heavily bombed, and Mussolini was arrested after a meeting with Italian King Victor Emmanuel III.
Darlene Graf, age 17, was featured on this cover as, "Dad's partner for victory." She stepped up and helped run the family farm in Nebraska when the hired man left for a Defense job. We caught up with Darlene 75 years later and she talked about being a "cover girl" in her teens. "I was famous," she said. “I even got a few marriage offers in the mail from young men." In the end, a Navy veteran won her heart and her hand.
4-H members like Juanita Floyd sold war bonds during World War II. According to The National World War II Museum, clubs that sold a certain number of bonds were allowed to name a liberty ship. In all, 50 ships were named by 4-H clubs in 43 states. Between 1942 and 1945, 4-H war bond sales totaled more than $200 million. Clubs also collected 400 million pounds of scrap, planted 2 million acres in gardens and crops, canned 74 million quarts of food, and raised 2.7 million head of livestock.
This cover reads, "Mrs. Lindsey does her bit handing out pheasant sandwiches to the boys on passing trains." It also includes a copy of a letter from the heads of the armed forces, appealing to readers to invest in War Bonds to, "give us not only the needed implements of war, but the assurance and backing of a united people so necessary to hasten the victory and speed the return of your fighting men." World War II would end three months later with Japan's surrender to General Douglas MacArthur aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.