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Posts tagged: Better Living

Jun 06 2017

Behind the Scenes of “Better Living”

June is the final month of the “Better Living in North Carolina” LSTA-funded grant project. Over the past two years, NCSU Libraries and the F. D. Bluford Library at NC A&T have made thousands of cooperative extension materials available online for researchers to access. Large undertakings like this don’t just happen overnight; it takes a lot of work over a long period of time to put together a project of this magnitude. Here is a look behind the scenes at the people who helped to bring “Better Living” to life.

The "Better Living" team at the State Farmers Market

[From left to right]

Brian Dietz is the Digital Program Librarian for Special Collections at NCSU Libraries. Brian is one of the co-principal investigators of the project, and acts and the technical/production lead.

Iyanna Sims is the Head of Bibliographic, Metadata & Discovery Services at the Bluford Library, and worked as the computer technology expert for NC A&T.

James Stewart is the Head of Archives & Special Collections at the Bluford Library, where he is responsible for selecting the material to be included in the project as well as performing the quality control on and the sharing of digital content with NCSU Libraries. He has been in this role since January 2017; prior to this, he worked as the project coordinator at NCSU Libraries.

Christopher Hogendoorn is the Digital Project Librarian and current project coordinator at NCSU, where he oversees the day-to-day production and quality control of all “Better Living” material.

Todd Kosmerick is the NCSU University Archivist and co-principal investigator of the project, serving as the content lead responsible for selecting the material and leading outreach efforts for the grant.

Netta Cox is the Head of Serials/Government Documents Librarian at the Bluford Library, where she is the principal investigator for the project at NC A&T, managing the overall progress of the grant.

Not pictured is Gloria Pitts, the outgoing Head of Archives & Special Collections at the Bluford Library, who also selected material to be part of the project.

We would not have been able to do this project without the assistance of our dedicated students. At NCSU Libraries, Jacque Dinnes, Derek Huss, and Jeanette Shaffer scanned and created the metadata for thousands of “Better Living” items, while Jamare Byers, Brielle Cowan, Sherilynn Knight, and Amani Newman did the corresponding work at the Bluford Library.

The end of the project is approaching, but new “Better Living” material is being added all the time, and is available as part of the NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections, which provides access to thousands of imagesvideoaudio recordings, and textual materials documenting NC State history and other topics. While you’re at it, check out the Historical State timeline on the Cooperative Extension Service.

May 08 2017

“Better Living” Grows with Influx of Microfilm

As the “‘Better Living’ in North Carolina” project enters its final months, Special Collections staff are working hard to make many cooperative extension materials available through our Rare and Unique Digital Collections website. Recent additions to “Better Living” include digitized microfilm reports from county and state-wide extension agents. These reports exist only in microfilm format, which is difficult to use. They reveal a staggering amount of detailed information about agricultural extension and home demonstration work in North Carolina at the individual county level. The reports currently online span the years 1908 – 1935. Depending on the year and the county, there could be reports from the agricultural extension agent and the home demonstration agent in the area, and these were often divided between those serving the white and African American populations, meaning four agents could write separate reports for a single county. Furthermore, each report could contain a statistical section and a narrative section, making for a lot of reports and a lot of data.

1927 African American Home Demonstration Annual Report, Wake County

Here is the African American home demonstration statistical report from Wake County for 1927. These reports were standardized forms which the extension agents completed with information gathered during the year. In this report, we see that Wake County had two agents, Bertha Maye and Lucy James. The report also tells us that they believed there were 50 communities throughout the county in which extension work should be carried out, but only 16 communities where it actually was. Was this a funding issue, or was there trouble getting people to participate? These reports reveal how many home visits these agents made (114 visits to 62 homes) and how many phone calls they placed over the year (61 in total). Maye and James primarily led their communities through food, nutrition, and clothing demonstrations. For example, the report says that 89 women and 72 girls received instruction on preparing better school lunches and that 161 girls’ coats were made. This granular detail fills in for the researcher overlooked aspects of life at this time, providing a more holistic view.

1918 Agricultural Agent Report, Cherokee County

1918 Agricultural Agent Annual Report, Cherokee County

The 1918 white narrative report from J. H. Hampton, extension agent for Cherokee County, is similarly revealing. The narrative reports flesh out the story that the numbers only partially tell. On dairy farming, for example, Hampton writes: “One cheese factory was established in the county on the cooperative plan. In March, 100 cows were promised to furnish milk for the factory. Owing to the delay in securing equipment for the factory we did not get it started until July 29 and there was not as much milk furnished as was promised. There will be one or more carloads of high grade Holstein cows brought into this community next spring. A pure bred Holstein bull has alread[y] arrived there.” The explanation that the narrative reports provide gives context to the numbers, and the two are necessary to understand the impact cooperative extension had in any given area.

1934 Extension Entomologist Annual Report

1934 Extension Entomologist Annual Report

On top of all of these county reports, the microfilm also has state-wide extension reports which cover the program’s focus areas, like swine production, plant pathology, and home management. Altogether there is a vast amount of material in these records which document life in the aggregate in early twentieth-century North Carolina. Preventing insect damage to crop production was the responsibility of the extension entomologist, and in 1934 that was C. H. Brannon. According to him, “1934 was a season of almost unprecedented horn worm infestation on tobacco, the damage was widespread and heavy. Farmers purchased a large number of small dusters for the application of poison and excellent results were secured by those who followed recommendations. Most tobacco growers are beginning to realize that insects must be controlled if tobacco is to be grown at a profit. The excellent price for the 1934 crop will make farmers more solicitous than ever of insect infestations of the 1935 crop and we are expecting even better cooperation in the future.” To find out if Brannon’s predictions were correct, you will have to explore the 1935 entomology report yourself.

"Better Living" Microfilm Reels 132-261

Half of the "Better Living" Microfilm Reels

So far, the 177,076 pages online represents 1/4 of the “Better Living” microfilm, so there’s a lot that will be available in the coming weeks. All of the digitized microfilm from the “Better Living” project is available as part of the NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections, which provides access to thousands of imagesvideoaudio recordings, and textual materials documenting NC State history and other topics. While you’re at it, check out the Historical State timeline on the Cooperative Extension Service.

Mar 27 2017

Two Special Collections Exhibits in the D.H. Hill Library

If you have walked through the D.H. Hill Library’s Ask Us lobby any time over the past week, you may have noticed a glass display case and a large mobile monitor off in the southwest corner. These are the latest exhibits put together by the Special Collections Research Center, celebrating both Agricultural Awareness Week and Women’s History Month.

Special Collections Exhibits

Special Collections Exhibits

In the display case is a sampling of agricultural extension material from the 1910s to the 1960s, all recently digitized as part of the “Better Living in North Carolina” project. The items in this case range from a pamphlet instructing readers on how to grow and sell Christmas trees to a schematic detailing the construction of an automatic swine watering machine. There are even a few items explaining to North Carolina’s farmers that an increase in their produce and meat production could help win the Second World War. The “Better Living in North Carolina” project is collaboration between NCSU Libraries and the F.D. Bluford Library at North Carolina A&T State University. It seeks to make available online thousands of resources documenting the agricultural economy of North Carolina and its transformation throughout the twentieth century, spurred by the innovation and research of the Cooperative Extension Service.

North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Annual Report 1948

North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Annual Report 1948

Up on the monitor is a digital exhibit showcasing women in cooperative extension work. This material comes from the “Better Living in North Carolina” and “Green ‘N’ Growing” projects. We’ve put together a collection of photographs and pamphlet covers which depict the wide array of work that women have done as part of the cooperative extension initiatives, usually through home demonstrations. One of the photographs in the exhibit shows a woman leading a demonstration on the nutritional value of milk for children, and another depicts a home demonstration agent instructing people on financial management. There is also a pamphlet which gives instructions on how to properly streamline the dishwashing process to cure their “dishpanitis.”

Group of Women Attending a Home Demonstration Event

Group of Women Attending a Home Demonstration Event

All of these items and more can be seen in the Ask Us lobby of the D. H. Hill Library, so if you have not seen the exhibits yet, check them out today! The exhibits will be up through Sunday, 2 April. The content of these exhibits is available as part of the NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections, which provides access to thousands of imagesvideoaudio recordings, and textual materials documenting NC State history and other topics. While you’re at it, check out the Historical State timeline on the Cooperative Extension Service.

Sep 26 2016

From the Collections of John D. Wray and S. B. Simmons

Bio and Portrait of S. B. Simmons

Better Living In North Carolina is a collaborative digital project between the NCSU Libraries and the Bluford Library at North Carolina A&T State University that is designed to reveal how agricultural practices transformed the state of North Carolina over the course of the last century. This can not be done without also uncovering new revelations about the men and women who worked as part of the NC Cooperative Extension Service and our state’s vocational education programs. We are proud to announce the availability of resources from the collection of two very significant men from the Archives and Special Collections of NC A&T State University and the state’s vocational education history.

S. B. (Sidney Britton) Simmons (1894-1957) was the state supervisor of vocational agriculture for African-American schools in North Carolina for over 30 years beginning in 1924. He was a nationally recognized champion of vocational agriculture and a graduate and post graduate of multiple colleges, including A&T College and the University of Illinois.

Photo (New Farmers of America North Carolina young male group)

He was one of the founders of the National Association of New Farmers of America (NFA), a vocational agriculture organization for African American youth. Simmons brought this organization to the Tarheel State as the North Carolina Association of NFA. The NFA and the Future Farmers of America (FFA) would merge together in the mid-1960s. As state director and through the North Carolina NFA, Simmons impacted the education of thousands of African American youth via school programs, camps, conferences, broadcasts, and competitions. Highlights from the Simmons collection include several photographs of young African American men and women at various camps, demonstrations, and conferences learning different agricultural practices, from curing tobacco to herding livestock.

Photo of a Girl Curing Turkish Tobacco

View the S. B. Simmons Collection, Archives and Special Collections, F. D. Bluford Library, North Carolina A&T State University

John D. Wray (1877 – 1937) was the state’s first African-American club (later 4-H) agent, or “Negro Club Leader,” beginning in 1915. He organized the first agricultural clubs in counties that up to that time did not have African American extension agents. The first clubs for homemakers, crop rotation, peanuts, and cotton were started during his 10 years as an extension agent. His office was located on the campus of NC A&T.

"Negro boys and girls attend short course at A and T College", article by John D. Wray. Wray contributed numerous farming articles to regional and national newspapers.

Like Simmons, Wray also previously worked for the Tuskegee Institute before coming to North Carolina. His writings of proper farming techniques were circulated to state and national newspapers. Like Neil Alexander Bailey, the state’s first African American extension agent, Wray specialized in the research of corn production, and his thesis on this topic is now available online. He later became an instructor of vocational agriculture at the Laurinburg Institute, and a professor at Florida A&M University.

View the John. D. Wray Collection, Archives and Special Collections, F. D. Bluford Library, North Carolina A&T State University

More on the life and work of John D. Wray can be found at John D. Wray and the Fight for Black Farmers – NC EATS.

The resources currently available in the Better Living collection continue to grow, and there will be many more to come on the life of John D. Wray, S. B. Simmons. and others who helped to advance the agricultural practices of North Carolina.

If you would like to learn more about the Special Collections Research Center and our digitized materials, please visit NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections, which provides access to thousands of imagesvideoaudio recordings, and text materials documenting extension history and other topics.

Aug 02 2016

Hidden Documents Within The Cooperative Extension Service Annual Reports

Annual reports and plans of work created by the Cooperative (Agricultural) Extension service document their completed tasks and goals to improve the agriculture and economy of North Carolina and its citizens. While primarily composed of text, they often contained a combination of media and information visuals designed to supplement the written information. Those supplements included pamphlets, extension circulars, newspaper clippings, radio scripts, and even blueprints.

Below are several examples of unique items digitized within these reports by the “Better Living” project.

Extension Circular No. 272 - Disease Control in the Home Garden, February 1944. From Report of Extension Work in Plant Pathology in North Carolina for 1944

Extension circulars were publications on various agricultural technical topics printed on a few pages for easy use. Many more of these were digitized in the Green and Growing project.

Magazine “Business of Farming” Autumn 1956. From North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Narrative Report for 1956

There are numerous articles and press releases within these reports from North Carolina newspapers and regional agricultural magazines. These articles were usually contributed by an extension service department agent.  The article from the “Business of Farming” magazine  (above) includes an interview with W. C. Warrick, an extension agricultural engineer and a farm couple from Alexander County, North Carolina, on the development of the best type of home for a modern (1950s) farm family.

Brochure for 1966 N. C. Farm Materials Handling Exposition - North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Annual Report - Agricultural Production, Management, and Natural Resources Use 1966.

Several brochures and flyers are important records of the educational outreach of extension agents and professors.

Oversized Bar Graph - North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Narrative Report For 1943

Oversized Bar Graph - North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Narrative Report For 1943

Many reports from the Biological and Agricultural Engineering extension office contain oversized blueprints of modern farming facilities and data charts which had to be carefully unfolded so a resource could be digitized using our overhead scanner.

Architectural Drawing - North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Annual Report - Agricultural Production, Management, and Natural Resources Use 1965

Technical drawings from within the annual reports reveal the intricate planning of agricultural research stations and facilities in North Carolina.

Photos - Report of Extension Work in Plant Pathology in North Carolina For 1944

Many photographs of extension activities were printed within the text of some annual reports. In some cases original photographs were affixed to report pages as documentation of extension activities.

Resources related to all agricultural sciences taught by the Cooperative Extension are available as part of the NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections, which provides access to thousands of images, video, audio recordings, and textual materials documenting NC State history and other topics. Additionally, Historic State is rich resource for discovering information about the university’s role in creating educational materials about agriculture in North Carolina.

May 02 2016

4-H Plans of Work in the “Better Living” Digital Collection

District map from the 1961 4-H Plan of Work

To date the “Better Living In North Carolina” project has posted over 300 Cooperative Extension Annual Reports and Plans of Work online. Researchers can explore historic qualitative and quantitative data about home demonstration, animal husbandry, plant pathology and other divisions of the extension service. For this post we will highlight the 4-H Youth Development Plans of Work, ranging in date from 1929 to 1981.

A page of upcoming goals in the 1940 4-H Plan of Work

The plan of work was a statement of intended goals and objectives for the coming year. The plans display the fascinating work that went into organizing annual camps, club weeks, radio broadcast, and new camp locations, and demonstrate the research of extension leaders and staff working at NC State University and North Carolina A&T State University. The remainder of this post introduces several of these documents and some of the men and women who put them together up until the early 1960s.

It was a little over 90 years ago when, on January 1st, 1926, L. R. (Lera Rhinehart) Harrill (1897-1978) became the first State 4-H Club Leader, a position he would hold until 1963. Harrill was an outstanding 4-H leader and a pioneer in agricultural education and youth development far beyond North Carolina. His devotion to the 4-H rural and urban youth of North Carolina and abroad earned him the title “Mr. 4-H.”

A fun image of (left to right) L. R. Harrill (biting the watermelon), Frances MacGregor and Ruth Current, State Leader of Home Demonstration at a 4-H Club Week event in 1939.

Some of the statewide 4-H reports are co-authored by Frances MacGregor Wall (1909-1949), a home demonstration agent who served as Assistant State Leader of 4-H from 1937 to 1946. Following MacGregor, contributors to the Plans of Work included assistant club leaders and district agents Jesse James, Eleanor Barber, Mary Sue Moser, Ruby Pearsons, and O. H. Philips.

Sample of Plans of Work from the N. C. State Extension Office by L. R. Harrill and various Assistant State Club Leaders.

While Harrill and MacGregor were the state leaders, the services for African-Americans in 4-H were directed out of the N.C A&T Extension Office beginning in the mid 1930s and until the program was integrated in the mid 1960s. During this time, information about African-Americans in 4-H was included in the statewide reports from NC State as well as the Plan of Work or Annual Reports for Negroes in 4-H.

Robert Earle (R. E.) Jones (1908-1991) became State 4-H specialist for African-Americans 80 years ago in 1936, overseeing 28 counties and 10,000 children. In this role he completed the State Plan of Work for Negroes beginning in 1937.

Map from the 1950 Negro 4-H Plan of Work, W. C. Cooper and Idell Jones.

William C. Cooper was the state 4-H leader of the A&T extension office, beginning in 1947. Cooper was previously an extension agent in Anson County, NC. Assisting Cooper for several years as Assistant State Agent was Mrs. Idell Jones Randall.

Idell Jones Randell, State Assistant of 4-H for African Americans, July 6, 1950.

Sample Annual Reports and Plans of Work from North Carolina A&T Extension Office by Jones and Cooper.

For more about the history of 4-H in North Carolina search Historical State and our previous Extension-related digital project “Green ‘N’ Growing: The History of Home Demonstration and 4-H Youth Development in North Carolina”. The 4-H Youth Development Annual Reports were digitized under this project.

North Carolina delegates attending the National 4-H Club conference in Washington, D.C. Assistant State Club Leader Jesse James on the right.

Feb 09 2016

From Dr. McKimmon To Miss Current: A Legacy of Home Demonstration

It was a little less than 80 years ago this month that on February 4, 1937, Ruth Current succeeded Dr. Jane S. McKimmon as State Home Demonstration Agent for the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service (later renamed Cooperative Extension Service). Both women are still remembered for their tremendous contributions to agriculture and for being two great North Carolinians. Today in the Better Living digital collection there are now annual statistical reports and county extension reports from the 1920s and 1930s created under their supervision. Before exploring these new resources the following is a brief retelling of the story of these remarkable women and how that torch was passed.

Jane Simpson McKimmon (1867-1957)

Teacher, civic leader, state extension leader, writer and one of the first women to graduate from NC State are only a few of McKimmon’s accomplishments. In 1911, Jane Simpson McKimmon a graduate of Peace Institute was selected as home agent to serve women in NC. At the time she was one of only five home agents in the nation. After 24 years she had transformed a home demonstration group for 514 white females in 14 counties into a statewide program with 54,310 white and black females in 78 counties. As many as 29 counties entered home demonstration work in 1933 alone. She traveled constantly from county to county and pioneered the technique of home demonstration to teach farm families.

Her teaching methods would be adapted nationally and internationally. She was innovative in training and teaching farm women in home economics in North Carolina. Her tremendous work in the NC Agricultural Extension Service made her an early champion of rural adult education. The effects of Jane McKimmon’s progress in home demonstration work can be seen in annual statistical reports now available online in the Better Living Collection. Please view the 1923-1924, 1925-1926, 1929, 1931, 1932 annual county worker reports. Home demonstration reports by Jane McKimmon from 1911 to 1943 plus photographs are available online from the “Green and Growing” digital collection. NCSU Libraries Special Collections Research Center is also home to the Jane Simpson McKimmon Papers, 1927-1968.

In 1935 McKimmon announced her desire to resign from demonstration work. Agricultural Extension Director Dr. I. O. Schuab respected her request but wanted her to wait until an appropriate replacement could be found.

Dr. Jane S. McKimmon in 1939.

Ruth Augusta Current (1901-1967)

The February 12, 1937 edition of the State College newspaper “The Technician” announced the resignation of Dr. McKimmon in a lengthy column which concluded with news about the new state agent. The appropriate replacement Dr. Schaub hoped for was a young woman named Ruth Augusta Current. Miss Current, as she was frequently referred to in the press and within extension work documentation, was a graduate of Meredith College, Peabody College and Columbia University with an academic background in home economics, sociology and adult education. After serving at a Winston-Salem orphanage and at several high schools she began extension services as an agent for Iredell county in 1927.

In November 1930, Current succeeded Miss Martha Creighton as the district home demonstration agent for the southwest region of 25 counties. Shortly after she was also appointed State Girl’s 4-H Club Leader serving under L. R. Harrill. While working in both of these positions it was announced that Current would become the new state home demonstration agent on February 4, 1937. McKimmon was pleased with the choice of Ruth Current whom she had know for nearly a decade.

The number of counties with home demonstration programs continued to grow under Current’s leadership. See the “Home Demonstration” section of the 1937 annual report for some statistics from her first year on the job. To see more of Ruth Current’s work during her time as state agent view these home demonstration supervisory reports from 1940 to 1956 from the “Green and Growing” digital collection. Ruth Current actively continued in the role of state home demonstration agent until 1957, after which she served as assistant director for the NC Agricultural Extension Service for Home Economics for an additional four years. When she was inducted into the NC Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1976, she was honored for her role in expanding resources for rural women in the areas or literacy, crafts, citizenship, music appreciation, public health and the connection of rural education to state and national organizations.

Ruth Current with foreign visitors in front of portrait of Mrs. Jane S. McKimmon, September 14th, 1954.

“When We’re Green We Grow”

Both women would continue to be supportive of each other and the work of the extension. Although she resigned from home demonstration work in 1937, McKimmon served as assistant director of the NC Agricultural Extension Service until her official retirement in 1946. In addition to that role a great deal of her time was devoted to the completion of her book When We’re Green We Grow a history of home demonstration, published in 1945 by the University of North Carolina Press.

Left to right: Ruth Current, actress Jane Darwell, and Jane McKimmon on an episode of the Cavalcade of America radio program, 1949.

In 1949 Ruth Current accompanied McKimmon to New York City for a radio dramatization of her book. The episode, also titled “When We’re Green We Grow,” was broadcast on the Cavalcade of America program on Monday, May 2, 1949 over the NBC network. “Miss Jennie” McKimmon was played by noted radio actress Helen Claire. The real Jane McKimmon can be heard 25:15 minutes into the broadcast after being introduced by Academy Award winning actress Jane Darwell. It would have been nice to also be able to hear Ruth Current’s voice as well. Maybe it is her clapping for a few moments at the introduction of Jane McKimmon.