Today’s post is the second in a series that looks at State Publications published during World War I and references to the War therein. The first post focused on education-related publications; today’s topic is agriculture. You might not consider agriculture much related to an overseas War, but these publications encouraged consumers to take up austerity measures in their own eating habits and asked farmers to increase production to help with the war effort.
The Agricultural Experiment Station, which I wrote about in May, positioned its experimental efforts toward supporting that effort. In their 1918 annual report, they describe letters and circulars distributed to over 75,000 North Carolinians to help encourage increased food and livestock feed production. In the following excerpt, from 1917, they describe their staff’s desire to help find
the solution of those agricultural problems arising as a result of the world war, and its staff has felt to the fullest extent that, in so far as possible, they should lend aid to the very important task of placing agriculture on a firm basis, in order to meet the war-time and after the war demands of the nation. (p.7)
While they may not have found a single solution, their efforts did help with “increased production of food and feedstuffs as they relate to soil fertility, crop rotations, fertilizing problems, the control of insects and plant and animal diseases, the maximum production and conservation of meats and the study of problems connected with organizing and saving” (p. 8). I find it interesting that their mission focused at the same time on increased production as well as encouraging conservation, asking citizens to enter into a situation in which they watched more and more fruits of their labor pass selflessly away from their plates to help the country as a whole.
This same message is repeated in the 1917 North Carolina State Fair premium list, albeit with more of a patriotic flair. (What’s a premium list?) In the introductory material, Joseph Pogue, the Secretary of the North Carolina Agricultural Society, writes the following:
In this time of stress when the whole world is being shaken to its foundations by the turmoil of war, it is absolutely necessary that every force and factor that tends to the economic and agricultural development of the State shall be brought into full and perfect operation. The North Carolina Agricultural Society for fifty-seven years has been an important factor in the progress and development of the State. As never before the power of our State Fair to spread the gospel of good farming and to encourage the production of food stuffs must be used to the utmost. Uncle Sam will defeat Prussianism and will feed the world, but the task is a gigantic one and every man with an acre of land or even a small garden should plant for food. (p.5)
Here again is the message of selflessness during a time traditionally reserved for entertainment and self-improvement.
The State Fair was not held in 1918 because of the War, however a premium list was created and it featured a grainy photograph of the “Heroic Women of France” (pictured above) showing three women in long skirts pulling a plow through furrows with their backs deeply bent. This was accompanied by a resolution from the State Fair extending its “hearty cooperation of our State Fair and our undivided and earnest efforts to aid it and its officers in securing the desired results.” Even as the Fair gave up its grounds for military training, its thoughts were towards encouraging farmers and other fairgoers to join with it in similar measures of sacrifice.
Look for another post in a few weeks on more references to the first World War in State Publications.