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Press Release

April 4, 2016

Contact: Renee Trindle
Sod House Museum, Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 580-463-2441

“From Barrels and Boxes to Feed Sacks” Exhibit at the Sod House Museum

ALINE, Okla. — The Sod House museum presents a new exhibit, “From Barrels and Boxes to Feed Sacks,” for visitors to enjoy when visiting the museum. The display features bonnets, aprons, garments, a sugar crystal bag and feed sacks, along with a 100-pound bag for Cherokee Chief Egg Mash, manufactured by the Cherokee Grain Company in Cherokee, Okla. Museum Director Renee Trindle will present an overview of the history and use of feed sacks on Saturday, May 21, at 10 a.m. Trindle will present a timeline of the history of feed sacks, starting with the invention of the lockstitch sewing machine and including World War I, the Great Depression and the patriotism of World War II.

In the early 1800s tins, boxes and wooden barrels were used to transport goods such as food, grain, seed and feed. Then between 1840 and 1890 cotton sacks gradually replaced barrels as food containers because of the invention of the lockstitch. The lockstitch sewing machine, invented in 1846 by Elias Howe, made it possible to sew double locking seams strong enough to hold the contents of a bag and practical for repeated use. Bags were produced in varying sizes from one pound for household use to those 12 feet long for picking cotton. As late as the 1880s barrels were still the preferred storage unit, but by World War I they had all but disappeared.

The sacks were originally plain, unbleached cotton and the farmer’s name often was stamped on his bag so it could be reused. In the late 1800s textile mills were producing strong, inexpensive cotton, which quickly replaced canvas as the preferred material for feed sacks. Feed sacks first were sold in colors, then in colorful prints beginning around 1925. Farmers’ wives enjoyed this new source of basically free fabric by turning the cotton sacks into items of use such as clothes, pillow cases, undergarments, curtains and quilts. Feed companies began to print their sacks in colored patterns, and since it usually took more than one bag to make a dress, the idea was to give the farmer an incentive to keep buying their products.

The Sod House Museum is operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society. The museum is open Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., and is located southeast of Aline on State Highway 8. For more information contact Director Renee Trindle at 580-463-2441 or sodhouse@okhistory.org. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.  

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