Calling All Vocational Homemakers...

Posted by Jenny on June 5, 2013

(written by Taylor of the Archives Staff)

Unless you have personally been a member of one of these organizations, it might come as a surprise to you that from the early 1900s up to the present day, there have existed thousands of clubs around the country focused solely on “homemaking.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, homemaking is the practice of maintaining a household, including cooking, cleaning, decorating, and raising children. Clubs like this were extremely popular among women throughout most of the 20th century.

In the La Crosse area alone, there were several homemaker’s clubs, run and attended almost entirely by women, which through monthly meetings sought to educate present and future homemakers on the best techniques and practices used in good homemaking.


One of these clubs located in La Crosse was the Vocational Homemaker’s Club, which was affiliated with the La Crosse Vocational School (later Western Technical College). The first mention of this club was in the La Crosse Tribune in April of 1925, where they advertised their regular meetings on the second Tuesday of every month. The club existed for several decades (at least until 1983) putting out yearbooks which included lists of members, club officers, and future activities they had planned. 

This club, along with many others in the state, was sponsored by the Wisconsin Schools of Vocational and Adult Education. They all had the same creed:

 “We the Homemakers of Wisconsin believe in the sanctity of the home, the cradle of character—blessed by motherly devotion and guarded by fatherly protection.

 We pledge ourselves:

To work for the preservation and improvement of home and community life.

To strive for healthier minds and bodies and better living.

To promote the welfare of our boys and girls, the nation’s greatest asset.

            To be true to God and country and of lasting service to our homes and communities.”

In addition to housewives and mothers, young unmarried women may have joined organizations like the Vocational Homemaker’s Club as an accompaniment to the formal homemaking education they could receive at vocational schools and high schools. Up until 1956, the La Crosse Vocational school offered certificates in homemaking, which required classes in child development, clothing production, cooking, and serving. Attending club meetings may have been a nice way for women studying homemaking to gain extra experience and learn from other women while pursuing things that appealed to them specifically.

The Vocational Homemaker’s Club states that one of their objectives was to allow women to pursue creative homemaking projects that interested them, and to give them the opportunity for “self-expression in all phases of homemaking.”

As mentioned above, some of these homemaker’s clubs are still around today. The bonds forged by the women in these groups have lasted, in some cases, for decades. While the clubs in the La Crosse area may have mostly disappeared, there are still organizations across the state and country where women meet to exchange knowledge, meet new people, and give back to their communities.  

To view yearbooks and other items detailing the history of the Vocational Homemaker’s Club in La Crosse, visit the Archives Department at the Public Library’s Main Branch.