Skip to main content

Mecklenburg County Extension Homemakers Association, Inc. records

Identifier: MS0400

Scope and Contents

This collection contains information concerning organizations dedicated to home-making and home economics in North Carolina and in Mecklenburg County. The home economics movement was a phenomenon of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and its purpose was to provide services and information to home-makers (primarily in rural areas) to help them manage their households more cost-effectively. Extension agents, who were employed by the state or county, were the professionals who coordinated information and instruction between the state and county governments, and the home-makers at the local clubs.


  • Creation: 1925 - 2008
  • Creation: 1960 - 2008


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Home demonstration activities began in North Carolina as early as 1911 with the establishment of the first “tomato club” in Guilford County. Within a few years, the US Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 for the establishment of the Agricultural and Home Economics Extension Service. The purpose of this act was to “aid in diffusing among the people of the U.S. useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture and home economics and to encourage the application of the same to those not resident in said colleges.” (see Lorna Langley’s “History and Philosophy of Extension, Box 3:38) The Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service that emerged was a collaborative effort between the US Department of Agriculture, land-grant universities, and state and local governments. As “collaborators” (later called “demonstration agents” and still later known as extension agents”) began working, they found it necessary to teach groups of homemakers, rather than individuals, in order to teach effectively. Teaching individuals took too much time and involved too much travel. At first, collaborators traveled by train and taught their lessons in unused railroad box cars. The purpose of the Extension Homemakers Association was to provide education and training useful to homemakers in rural and agricultural areas at a time when electricity in rural areas was rare, paved roads were few, sanitation conditions were primitive, and the cost of groceries was relatively high. Economizing in all aspects of homemaking was very important to farm families that lived on a modest income. EHA also provided information on nearly every aspect of domestic life, including food preservation, child-rearing, good citizenship, making clothing, home decorating, and more. In addition, the association provided a means of social networking between farm women who lived far from their closest neighbors.

Ultimately, the EHA provided assistance and instruction to rural homemakers, in order for them to develop a higher standard of living. The North Carolina Federation of Home Demonstration Clubs first organized in 1920 as a private entity affiliated with the state Cooperative Extension Service. This was an organization that homemakers could join, and they learned about home economics through this organization. The name of this group was changed in 1958 to the North Carolina Organization of Home Demonstration Clubs. A similar organization, the State Council of Home Demonstration Clubs of North Carolina, was organized in 1940. In 1966 these two groups merged to become the North Carolina Extension Homemaker Association, and was incorporated in 1974. The name changed again in 1999 to the North Carolina Extension & Community Association.

Over the years, the demography of North Carolina changed from primarily rural and agricultural to mostly urban and suburban. Along with this shift came a profusion of technological changes that made homemaking less labor-intensive and more convenient. Moreover, cultural habits of wives keeping house changed as a growing number of women entered the workplace outside of the home. With the advance of time, membership declined and chapters gradually folded one by one. The Mecklenburg County Extension and Community Association held its last meeting in 2008. The earliest existing records of the Mecklenburg County Extension Homemakers Association are minutes of meetings, dated 1925. According to their constitutions and bylaws, the name of this organization changed over the years, and the term “Curb Market” appeared on several versions of its constitutions and bylaws. The MCEHA (known as the “Mecklenburg County Extension and Community Association” at the time of its closure) was like so many other county extension associations, and its members were involved in a wide variety of educational programs and volunteer activities that focused on domesticity—particularly in the latter part of the twentieth century. One of the more noteworthy aspects of the extension homemakers’ movement was its attention to the needs of African-American homemakers, especially prior to and during the Civil Rights Movement. The organizers of extension homemaker associations recognized the needs of African-American women living in rural areas, and they prepared home economics literature especially for that demographic, some of which is found in this collection (see boxes 3:40 and 4:32). [Sources: Mecklenburg County Extension Homemakers Association records, Mss 400, Atkins Library, Special Collections.]


7.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection contains the records of the North Carolina Extension Homemakers Association, of Charlotte, North Carolina from 1925 to 2008.


This collection is arranged into nine series, three of which (State Organization(s), Southwest District and Local Extension Homemaker Clubs) are further divided into subseries. The nine series are: State Organization(s), North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service (NCCES), Southwest District, Mecklenburg County-level organization, Mecklenburg County Extension Service, Local Extension Homemaker Clubs, Photographic prints, Publicity Scrapbooks and Plaques.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired from Mecklenburg County Extension Homemakers in July 2008.

Processing Information

Processed by Alishia Jones and Robert A. McInnes.

Records of the Mecklenburg County Extension Homemakers Association, Inc.
Alishia Jones and Robert A. McInnes
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

Special Collections and University Archives
J. Murrey Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
(704) 687-1170
Schedule an Appointment