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It wasn't until I ran across the old images from the U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War at the Library of Congress website that I had ever heard of such a thing.


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Women preparing corn outside a community canning kitchen in Atkins, AR in 1935



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Arkansas community canning kitchen, August 1935


According to Rethinking home economics: women and the history of a profession (Stage and Vincenti, publ. Cornell University Press, 1997), community canning kitchens sprang up in many areas across the United States during the Depression and continued in operation into the World War II era. "Community gardens and canning kitchens were excellent ways to assist unemployed families without the shame that usually accompanied accepting relief." (See page 161.)

When my son was very young and I was a stay-at-home mom, I grew a garden and canned for several years, sharing the chore with my next door neighbor. (We'd take turns heating and messing up each other's kitchens. The results were wonderful and very satisfying.)

But my canner was not nearly the size of the one in this Johnson Co., AR community canning kitchen:

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Interior of community canning kitchen in Johnson Co., AR - August 1935


As I was preparing to write this entry, Google searches revealed that there may be a resurgence in the concept of community canning kitchens today.

Oh, those cycles...they just keep coming around, don't they?
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Dee Burris Blakley

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