From the Archives: Discover the past and much more with Cooperative Extension publications

Make Way for Dairy Products, 1987

Make Way for Dairy Products, 1987

Our Rare and Unique Digital Collections has a vast amount of materials produced by the NC Cooperative Extension Service, notably their publications. These are part of the Cooperative Extension’s mission to provide valuable information to North Carolinians with limited access to education, often those with lower income or in rural communities. Dating back to the 1910s, the publications primarily focus on agriculture, home economics, and youth outreach through 4-H clubs. We have a lot of them online, and there are many more to be digitized through our grant-funded initiatives Project Ceres, Better Living in North Carolina, and Green 'N' Growing.

What can be discovered in these publications? There is a lot to be learned and enjoyed from them, especially when looked at for the history of agriculture in North Carolina. For example, while you’ll find agricultural information that is outdated and should not be followed, the historical aspect of them can provide a wealth of information. For example, this leaflet “Tobacco Insect Control” gave farmers expertise advice on when DDT should be applied to tobacco plants! It was published in 1964, two years after Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.

Tobacco Insect Control, 1964

During World War II, America’s armed forces and Allies needed food supplies in such a great amount that food was rationed, households were encouraged to conserve as a part of their patriotic duty, and farmers were charged with producing more food. This 1943 publication, part of the War Series Bulletins, gives background on the need for extra food, and how farmers and families could help their country.

North Carolina Fights with Extra Food, 1943

These publications can also give a more casual peak into everyday lives from the past. The program of the Fifth Annual Boys’ Short Course from 1919 includes photos of boys and teens assembling at NC State (then the North Carolina Agricultural and Engineering College) for their agricultural clubs, as well as the activities planned, like watching “Moving pictures” and “Songs, yells, and inspirational talks.”

General announcement and program of the fifth annual boys' short course at the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering, July, 1919

This page from a 1968 issue of Clover Leaves, the newsletter for North Carolina’s 4-H Week, shows off the fashion and pageantry of the 4-H Dress Review. You can see influence of mod style and Jackie Kennedy-inspired dresses.

Clover leaves, July 25, 1968

You can also find information in these publications that is as useful today as it was when published. For example, if you want some vintage blueberry baked goods, the appropriately named pamphlet “Blueberries!” is the source you need.

Blueberries!, 1967

Building a house for bluebirds is a timeless activity.

Eastern Bluebirds-- How to build and place nesting boxes, 1982

I could have used some of these “Simple Storage Ideas” when I was living in a dorm, and I think I'll use some in my own home right now.

Simple storage ideas, 1980

Some of these publications show emphasis on their look, with pop aesthetics and pretty designs.

Roses, 1978

Fish and shellfish for your table, 1982

Our current digitzation project, funded through Project Ceres, isa collaboration between the United States Agricultural Information Network (USAIN), the Agriculture Network Information Collaborative (AgNIC), and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL).

Explore more North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service publications by browsing our Rare and Unique Digital Collections, specifically with our Project Ceres, Better Living in NC, and Green 'N' Growing collections. Our digitized materials also features thousands of images, video, audio recordings, and textual materials documenting history of North Carolina's community and extension services and other topics. You can also visit Historical State for a timeline of the history of the NC Cooperative Extension Service. To view Special Collections materials in person, please contact us through our online request form.

Egg processing-- Clean and sanitary, 1969

Eggs taking a shower. Adorable.