Home Demonstration clubs in North Carolina have their
roots in efforts to develop clubs for farm children. In the early 1900s home demonstration agents
were hired during growing and canning season to instructed young girls in
“housewifely arts”. It quickly became
apparent that full-time agents were needed and that women were also interested
in the educational opportunities being offered.
|A small canning set-up by the
Little River Home Demonstration Club in 1920.
Transylvania County’s early home demonstration clubs date
to 1919 when Miss Lula Cassidy became the first Home Demonstration agent in the
county. Within a few years clubs were
organized for both young girls and women in Blantyre, Boilston, Brevard, Calvert,
Cedar Mountain, Cherryfield, Connestee, Davidson River, Enon, Lake Toxaway,
Little River, Penrose, Pisgah Forest, Quebec, Rosman, Round Top, and Selica.
Programs included safe methods of canning and food
preservations, sewing, and other household skills. Participants were also taught marketing strategies
to sell their commodities and add to their family income. Products included fresh produce, eggs, milk,
canned goods, and a wide-range of handmade items.
The Quebec community established the first community
cannery in the county in 1919. It had
modern equipment for preserving garden products. Their goal was to preserve food for their
community and sell the surplus. As many
as a thousand cans of goods a day could be produced during the peak canning
season. Other communities throughout the county soon began canneries as well.
In Cedar Mountain the Home Demonstration Club operated a Tea
Room on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons during July and August. They offered home cooked items prepared from
their garden produce to summer guests and travelers. Money raised was to be used to build and
equip a cannery in Cedar Mountain.
|Basket making and chair caning were among the projects ladies in the
Little River Home Demonstration Club participated in.
Home demonstration clubs for girls and farm clubs for
boys later became 4-H clubs for all youth.
The home demonstration clubs for women continued to operate well into
mid-to-late 20th century.
They played an important role in small rural areas providing women with
educational programs and opportunities to share their skills.
|Hammered copper was one of the craft skills shared
by the Glady Branch Home Demonstration Club.
Although Home Demonstration Clubs are no longer active,
North Carolina Cooperative Extension offices throughout the state provide assistance
and programs in a wide range of areas including agriculture, gardening, family
consumer sciences, 4-H, and much more.
Photographs and information for this column are provided
by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library.
Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more
about our history and see additional photographs. For more information,
comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected]