Dieken: Class of 1932
women have been inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame since it
was first established in 1975. Three of those women are Coe
graduates: Mabel Lee (inducted in 1979), Janette Stevenson Murray
(1996), and Gertrude Dieken (1995).
and raised on a farm near Grundy Center, Iowa. After graduating
from high school in 27, she attended Grundy Junior College for one
year; Attended Coe in '29-'30 and in '31-'32.
with majors in journalism and English from Coe. Magna cum laude
and Phi Kappa Phi. Major honors student working with Ethel
Outland. "The History of the Closing Days of the New York World"
(a file of which had been maintained by Outland). Sister also
graduated from Coe: Irene Dieken Perry
from Dieken to Alumni Office in 1992: "Since I spent only one year
officially in the Class of '32, many of you may not even remember
me! Those were Depression times and I was trying to finish
college in three years (two of them at Coe, none consecutively–my
family had three in college at the time). This is why I am
grateful for the scholarship help arranged via a kindly Mr. Perkins of
the Coe staff, who came to call at our farm home. At the time of
graduation, a liberal arts degree was not conducive to obtaining
employment. But, although I had 'protected' myself with courses
to permit teaching, I remained faithful to my major
interest–journalism–and took a newspaper job for $15 a week. Over
the years I have come to appreciate profoundly the liberal arts
education and the encouragement and teaching skills of my major
professor, Ethel R. Outland, and my two high school teachers, Sue Dodd
and Carol Houghton, also Coe graduates. All have greatly enriched
my life and broadened my horizons. Even at retirement, there
isn’t enough time to explore the doors that continue to open!"
job: news editor for a chain of Iowa weekly newspapers in Grundy Center.
in 1936 and for six years, she was a home economics editor for
the Agricultural Extension Service of Iowa State University. She
was the first person to hold this position. She was in charge of
the extension service’s press and radio communications. She wrote
home economics material for newspapers, magazines, and radio.
Served as women's editor for two Iowa State periodical publications:
the Iowa Farm Economist and the Farm Science Reporter. Did some
free lancing with articles in Successful Farming, Farm Journal, Country
Gentleman, and the Saturday Evening Post (this information from a
Courier article published in Oct '41). Also pursued graduate work
in consumer economics and technical journalism; finished her course
work but never did her thesis.
home economics consultant for the Public Relations Department of E. I.
DuPont de Nemours & Co. Left DuPont because she saw no future
for a woman within the company.
became Women's Editor of the Farm Journal, usually identified as "the
most influential farm magazine" of its time, with a circulation
reaching 3,600,000. In 1950 she also became the home editor of the Town
Journal for a combined circulation of over 5,500,000.
became "editorial director" of The Farmer's Wife
became a Vice President of Farm Journal and Creative Director of the
Countryside Services. Dieken’s responsibilities to develop books
and other related products. Book series included such titles as Western
Horsemanship, The Psalms Around Us, Homemade Candy, Wyeth People,
and Christmas Book. Dieken in the late 1950s initiated
the Farm Journal Country Cook books, a series that cold several million
copies. She and her staff also created the Farm Journal Christmas
Books that also sold over a million copies.
Journal: originally owned by a foundation but six officers of the
company, one of which was Dieken, purchased the magazine in the 1960s
and was a part owner for several years.
served as editor, then editorial director of "The Farmer's Wife"
section of Farm Journal.
eventually administered a staff of 24 women (associate editors,
editorial and administrative assistants, and secretaries) who comprised
the staff of "The Farmer's Wife" section. Built a
reputation as a strong advocate for professional standards and
professional recognition–including equal pay with the men who worked
for the Farm Journal. Dieken viewed farm wives as "Vice
Presidents in the Apron" who played a pivotal role in American
agriculture. She advocated farm wives taking an active role in
business decisions and assuming responsibilities for the farm’s
records. They should be involved in the buying and selling of
goods and serve as a "back-stop for this husbands as business
men." She believed there was no comparable group of business
women in America and the "The Farmer's Wife" section needed to play a
major role in educating the women so they could fulfill their
responsibilities. She also recognized that many farm women were
working in businesses or professions off the farm, and that the Farm
Journal should be a vigorous advocate for advancing the status of
all employed women whether working on or off the farm. In the
1950s she was certainly "the number one women editor in the farm field
include being the first women to receive the Reuben Brigham Award,
given by the American Association of Agricultural College Editors for
outstanding service to agricultural and rural living.
named "Woman of the Year" by Theta Sigma Phi, national professional
women's journalism society.
received the Epsilon Sigma Phi's outstanding service award for
contribution to rural living.
Coe's Alumni Award of Merit.
created some controversy in 1946 when she wrote in the Farm Journal
that a city wife is worth "much less" to her husband the $69,000 which
a farmer's wife is allegedly worth to her spouse. "A city wife is
worth a lot less. I wouldn’t dare say how much less, but no one
could deny that farm wives are more valuable." Several articles
in the Gazette on this remark confirming that not everyone would
agree. One respondent was Louise Knapp, Gertrude Dieken's
long-time friend and fellow Coe graduate. Mrs. Knapp's letter to
Gertrude, quotes in a 17 Nov issue of the Gazette, responds "with some
spirit": "As for me, I always thought a wife was a wife wherever she
lived. If she was good, she was worth a lot, and if she wasn’t
she wouldn’t be worth a nickel–even to a farmer."