Members shared their memories of what they heard from their grandparents or parents during that time and how they would have similar groups here. One member brought a quilt cover that was made in 1934 by her Grandma's Happy Circle in western Minnesota. Another member brought her own ration book from when she was little, showing how you had to have a stamp to have food. It made us appreciate what we have now, someone said. Here is a link to wikipedia about rationing in the US during WW II.
This book club leader found this pin on Ebay and purchased it for $5. She shared she wanted something of the Women's Institute overall U.K. rather than a county or chapter pin.
Another member summarized the meeting with these thoughts. We discussed how the Women's Institute evolved and how, even now, it continues. WI now focuses on helping refugees, victims of abuse and sex trafficking, mental illness and single moms. We talked about why similar rural Women's clubs in the US have NOT continued nor found a new puprose after WW II. The great upheaval of life during the war in Great Britain was discussed. The Post Office registered 38 million change of address during the war, mostly due to the evacuations. Women collected many items during that time, including salvaging bones, collecting plants for medicinal use and collecting spools of thread that was used by soldiers to hide maps when they went behind enemy lines. Local markets were started. Raising rabbits and getting permits to butcher livestock were a part of the change.
After the discussion, many members are excited to watch the series on PBS.
"The first Women's Institute in the world started on February 19 1897 at Stoney Creek, Ontario Canada. The first WI was formed in Britain in 1915, at the suggestion of Canadian woman Madge Watt. The pattern of the Canadian movement was followed and the name adopted."
"The Women's Institute (WI) was formed in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then the organisation's aims have broadened and the WI is now the largest voluntary women's organisation in the UK. The WI celebrated its centenary in 2015 and currently has almost 220,000 members in approximately 6,300 WIs."