Homemaking Activities

Interior view of dining hall, decorated for the holidays, with students sitting at tables at the Tuskegee Institute

Interior View of Dining Hall, Decorated for the Holidays, With Students Sitting at Tables at the Tuskegee Institute
(circa, 1902). Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. LC-J694-21 [P&P].

'What Carver comes to see,' [Mark] Hersey says, was that 'altering [black sharecroppers’] interactions with the natural world could undermine the very pillars of Jim Crow.' Hersey argues that black Southerners viewed their lives under Jim Crow through an environmental lens. 'If we want to understand their day to day lives, it’s not separate drinking fountains, it’s ‘How do I make a living on this soil, under these circumstances, where I’m not protected by the institutions that are supposed to protect its citizens?' Carver encouraged farmers to look to the land for what they needed, rather than going into debt buying fertilizer (and paint, and soap, and other necessities—and food). Instead of buying the fertilizer that 'scientific agriculture' told them to buy, farmers should compost. In lieu of buying paint, they should make it themselves from clay and soybeans.

Kaufman, R. (February 21, 2019) "In Search of George Washington Carver’s True Legacy." Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved from: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/search-george-washington-carvers-true-legacy-180971538/

Carver saw his mission as part of a larger program to empower poor black farmers in every aspect of their lives. Thus, the subject matter of the Experiment Station Bulletins addressed typical agricultural areas of concern, but also the domestic aspects of farm life such as food preservation, cooking, growing ornamental plants, and using native clay to create color washes for decorating the farmhouse. These homemaking activities are the areas of focus for the Bulletins in this section.

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