Nebraska State Historical Society Blog

Throwback Thursday Photo, FERA Canning Center in Norfolk

Works at the 24-hour canning center in Norfolk, Nebraska

Who has been doing some canning this fall? Today’s Throwback Thursday photograph features a group of men seated a table preparing beans for canning. The men worked under the direction of Miss Helen McGinnis at the 24-hour canning center in Norfolk, Nebraska during the Great Depression.

Canning centers like this one were operated by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) during the 1930s. FERA was established as a result of the Federal Relief act in 1933 and was replaced by the Works Progress Administration in 1935. FERA’s main goal was to alleviate household unemployment by creating new unskilled jobs in local and state government. FERA provided work for over 20 million people from May 1933 to December 1935.

NSHS has a large collection of photographs FERA used to document federally funded projects across Nebraska. Over 2,500 images have been digitized and are now available online as part of the NSHS Online Collections Search

Workers at the 24-hour canning center in Norfolk, Nebraska

The 24-hour canning center in Norfolk was the leading canning center in Nebraska. It canned 40,000 cans under the direction of Miss Helen McGinnis (center). The tables and benches used in the canning operation were also a FERA project. (RG4290.PH0-000314)

Workers at the 24-hour canning center in Norfolk, Nebraska

The equipment used at the Norfolk canning center duplicated home methods. The center operated 24-hours a day in three shifts during the canning season. (RG4290.PH0-0000325)

Workers at the sewing center in Norfolk, Nebraska

When the canning center was not using the tables and benches, they were moved the Norfolk Sewing Center. The sewing center was led by Mrs. Sanmann. (RG4290.PH0-001645)

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