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Apples & the Old Time Apple Paring Bee: Last minute dessert from North Carolina on National Dessert Day

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Autumn conjures up fantasies of warm, cinnamon-spiced desserts made from crisp apples!  And it just happens to be National Dessert Day.

Contemplating something tasty to share, I went to my standard go-to for historical inspiration:  the collections of the North Carolina Museum of History.  They are a true harvest of images to lend context and imagination to studying the many apples groves of North Carolina history.

Photograph of an Apple Paring Bee, ca. 1900-1915 in North Carolina. From the collection of the N.C. Museum of History. Used courtesy of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Photograph of an Apple Paring Bee, ca. 1900-1915 in North Carolina. From the collection of the N.C. Museum of History. Used courtesy of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources.

And today I happened upon a photograph of an “Apple Paring Bee”, circa 1900-1915.  A little searching back in time brought me to the American Agriculturalist, Volume 8, published in 1849.  In a section near the back of the volume titled “Ladies Department” was printed a full-length entry on the “Apple-Paring Bee.”  The anonymous author, nostalgic about the annual event, described it as social “frolics”, the “great apple-paring bee”.  She noted that she wished to be “useful, as well as amusing” in her description.  And although she had a lighthearted touch, I was immediately reminded of other “bees” — husking, threshing, quilting, among them — that centered around crowd-sourcing important and functional tasks that would otherwise be daunting for a single family. In this case, a critical step in the harvest and “putting up” process. Ladies assembled for an evening blitz effort to core and pare apples for the next day’s apple butter boiling.  The writer —  E. S. — also alluded an aspect of social class equalization in the effort, all were equals.  She added: “While all are engaged in contributing to the happiness of others, the cheerful conversation, the merry laugh, and the comic song are unrepressed by chilling rebuke or morose looks.”

Recipe for Honey Apple Crisp, from "Favorite Recipes of North Carolina," 1950, N.C. Dept of Agriculture; in NC Digital Collections.

Recipe for Honey Apple Crisp, from “Favorite Recipes of North Carolina,” 1950, N.C. Dept of Agriculture; in NC Digital Collections.

And, in 1849, she mentioned her preference for paring by hand instead of using the mechanical “patent” parer. If you’ve ever pared any number of apples by hand, you know how hard it can be on our modern, not-so-strong hands! It’s difficult enough to fill one pie dish, let alone paring for an entire evening!

And if you’re searching for a last minute dessert recipe to celebrate National Dessert Day, have a mini-paring bee and try your hand at this recipe for “Honey Apple Crisp.”  It comes to us from Favorite Recipes of North Carolina, published in 1950 by the N.C. Department of Agriculture (available online at NC Digital Collections).

Kelly Agan, N.C. Government & Heritage Library

 

 

 

NCpedia has new resources!

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NCpedia has new resources!  Students, teachers and seekers of North Carolina information:  NCpedia has recently added more than 25 resources!

Photograph of Romare Bearden from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

Photograph of Romare Bearden from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

North Carolina Biographies:

  • Romare Bearden — artist and Mecklenburg County native (from the Research Branch, NC Office of Archives and History)
  • Ervin T. Rouse — Bluegrass composer and banjo virtuoso from Craven County (from the Research Branch, NC Office of Archives and History)
  • Martha Mason — Cleveland County childhood polio survivor and author (from the N.C. Government & Heritage Library)

Colonial and Maritime History:

Port Bath — history of North Carolina’s first official port of entry with maps and illustrations (from Gillian Hookway-Jones and Baylus Brooks)

North Carolina African American Education History

Joseph Keasbey Brick Agricultural, Industrial, and Normal School (Brick School) (from the Research Branch, NC Office of Archives and History)

North Carolina State Parks, Trails, Lakes, Rivers & Natural Areas 

GHL State Parks Pinterest Board

GHL State Parks Pinterest Board

Visit the new landing page along with histories of 11 parks from the NC Division of Parks and Recreation.  Articles include: contemporary and historic images of the parks from the NC Division of Parks and recreation, state government publications, the State Archives of North Carolina, the North Carolina Museum of History, and park visitors; GPS coordinates and maps; and links to digitized publications of North Carolina state agencies.  And more park histories are being added!

Educational and Fun Activities for kids of all ages13 activity pages added on a variety of North Carolina State Symbols and Official Adoptions and maps of the State’s 100 Counties

New Government & Heritage Library Pinterest Boards

— Kelly Agan, Digital Projects Librarian, N.C. Government & Heritage Library

Databases at GHL – Black Historical Newspapers

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newspaper

The Government & Heritage Library offers many databases. Some databases can be very helpful for genealogy, some more historical in nature, and some statistical in nature. Many of these databases are through subscription services that patrons can use free in GHL. Other libraries may offer the same or similar subscriptions if you are not able to come here to use them. One such database is the Black Historical Newspapers.

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Digital Collections: State Fair Ephemera

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State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, 1904

State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, 1904

The North Carolina State Fair, celebrated in Raleigh annually has deep roots that go back to 1853! It was originally created by the North Carolina Agricultural Society as a 4 day event. Except for not being held due to the Civil War and World War II, the State Fair has enjoyed an almost continuous run since 1862. The length of the fair has been extended gradually over time from 4 days to 11 days. That first fair in 1853 brought a lot of farmers out with attendance at approximately 4,000! Those people may have been your ancestors!

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