Home Demonstration Short Course

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North Carolina's Home Demonstration Short Course began as a way of teaching staff new ideas. Home Demonstration agents who had been out of school for a long time could use the Short Courses to refresh their knowledge or learn new methods. While newer agents may have studied the most modern technologies, they often lacked the experience of living in the country and a general knowledge of working with poultry, gardening, and dairying.

Food production and conservation were the main subjects taught at the first Short Courses because these were the focus of early home demonstration work. The agents learned scientific information and technical procedures important for proper canning to ensure safety for consumption and commercially viable products.

By 1916, home demonstration short courses were well organized, combining a conference and school for home agents at North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (later North Carolina State University). Minnie Jamison, the foods specialist, held canning demonstrations for agents prior to canning season. Other agents whose programs had been successful in their own counties also assisted in clothing and food preparation demonstrations. As a result of these efforts, North Carolina became the first state to offer homemade consumer quality canned goods. In 1917 and 1918, Home Demonstration Short Courses were not held so that home demonstration agents could keep up with food production during World War I.

As farm girls and women began to demand to learn additional skills, the short course program expanded, offering agents more extensive training in dress design and millinery. This led to the creation of the home economics short courses held at the North Carolina College for Women in 1920. Agents could take additional unit courses in home management, journalism, and nutrition. These women were also given the opportunity to discuss organizational problems, plans of work, and other concerns with each other. In 1931, a five day conference for men and women extension agents replaced the Short Courses.

Readers may also be interested in our essays on the history of Home Demonstration in North Carolina and the 4-H Short Course, State Club Week, and State Congress.


McKimmon, Jane Simpson. When We're Green We Grow. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1945.

[author: Mary von der Heide]

Woman pouring water in a wash tub, preparing to do laundry Hazel Carris of Pitt County at her 4-H exhibit, "Drink Your Way to Health" L. R. Harrill and others launching the U.S.S. Tyrrell on July 10th, 1944 in Wilmington, N.C. L. R. Harrill revealing the plaque placed on an ambulance donated to the United States Army Medical Department in honor of former 4-H club members now serving in the armed forces