Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Christmas with the US Department of Agriculture Radio Service

A few months ago on one of my lunchtime browsings around the Internet Archive, I came across a collection of documents from the US Department of Agriculture Radio Service.  Each document was the transcript of a 'Housekeeper's Chat" or a "Homemaker's Chat" that was read on the USDA Radio Service.  I found many transcripts related to Christmas, the oldest from 1927, and the most recent from 1945.

There are many topics covered in the transcripts, such as selection and care of Christmas greenery and trees, budgeting, games and activities, the creation of a Christmas dinner, and many recipes.  There are also several transcripts about Christmastime overseas, meals for our military, and other topics related to our involvement in World War II.  December 15, 1941 is about shipping food packages to "the boys at camp".  December 16, 1942: "Christmas Trees and Greens in Wartime".  December 25, 1942: "Christmas Dinner Abroad".

I found these to be fascinating glimpses into Christmas in the first half of the 20th century.  And, if you think about it for a moment, 1927 is not far from being one hundred years ago.  We think of the Christmases of Charles Dickens as 'a hundred years ago', but time is flying my friends.  Some of us right now may have 100 year old recordings in our collection.

I worked through the individual PDF files of the USDA transcripts and removed the blank pages.  I then created a master file of all the individual files merged together into one.  Then I printed the merged file, 10 sheets/20 pages at a time over several days at an undisclosed location. then took them to Kinkos and have them spiral bound for my reading pleasure.  (Printing at Kinkos would have been in excess of $300; spiral binding was $4.95).  The final product is 254 pages of Christmas vintagery.

I wanted to share these with you in case you also love items from Christmases long past.  There are two links below, one for a zip file of the individual files, and one for a zip file of the merged documents.  I hope you enjoy them.

Oh yeah - they include a few different fruitcake recipes (like the one pictured above, from 1929)  :-)  I'll be trying out a new variety or two this season.

Individual files:  download link

Merged file: download link

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