The early years of OSU Extension 1914-1939 – Family & Consumer Sciences

| May 23, 2014

COSHOCTON – In the state of Ohio, the first annual report for Home Economics was sent to Extension Director A.B. Graham in 1913. Classes were presented to nearly 4,000 women at agricultural Extension schools throughout the state as well as many more country and village women’s clubs and granges. Some topics included kitchen equipment (10,000 copies of this bulletin were distributed during the Ohio State Fair), food preparation and cost, and sewing classes for children. One interesting report involved research with 13 millers in Ohio. They each sent samples of one or two of their flours to be tested. They were then provided a summary of the baking qualities of the flour with suggestions for marketing to customers for specific baking uses.

In these early years the Extension educator was often called the Home Demonstration Agent. According to a publication of Extension history, the Home Demonstration Agent had a wide variety of expectations including “excellent cook, high-class seamstress, scientific dietician, carpenter, cabinet maker, gardener, orchardist and farmer. (They) worked for home sanitation, beautification, the elimination of contagious diseases, and encouraging thrift.”

World War I and the Great Depression brought tremendous challenges for families. During WWI all Extension workers went into service with the slogan, “Food will win the war.” Extension programs focused on family self-sufficiency. Some topics included bread and cheese making which often added extra income to the family budget. Remodeling clothing into an up-to-date garment was also a way to stretch clothing dollars.

In Coshocton County the first homemaker groups started as a result of in country demonstrations on home canning from the OSU School of Home Economics during WWI. At one time there were 12 communities in the county with homemaker groups. Harriet Green was hired as the first Coshocton County Home Demonstration Agent in 1936. She greatly expanded the home economics education as she worked with both adults and children. Each community homemaker group selected representatives to the County Home Council to advise Miss Green on program focus. Miss Green would often train these women to present programs as well as teaching the programs herself.

Some of the subjects that Miss Green taught included home furnishing (reupholstering a chair, making curtains and draperies); clothing (construction, care of fabrics, draping and tailoring); and food nutrition and preparation (meal planning, cooking with milk, making desserts, etc.)

Emily G. Adams is the OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources County Extension Director for Coshocton County


Category: Clubs & Organizations

About the Author ()

Article contributed to The Beacon.

Comments are closed.