AWI Handbooks

Based originally on templates established by the Department of Agriculture, in Ontario, the Alberta Government and its Women’s Institutes produced a number of handbooks for the use of the members.

While these handbooks remind us that the women’s institutes movement has an essential connection with government, they also underline the WI’s fundamental purpose as a learning organization.

Many of the handbooks focus on leadership and participation in formal organizations. They might teach women how to form a club or run a meeting. They might supply useful ideas for retaining membership or making meetings more enjoyable. They might focus on home management. In 1953, for instance, the AWI compiled and distributed a booklet called “Conducting the W.I. Meeting”; and in 1975, “Duties and Directives,” which oriented newly elected officers to their work.

Since AWI’s aging membership is shrinking and since most members have been with the organization for decades, the Handbooks now function more as a touchstone to the organization’s internal narrative about its values, than as guides to daily practice.