Vocational education was a mainstay in the New Deal Administration’s school development, and there were many vocational buildings added to the Mississippi landscape through the National Youth Administration, Works Progress Administration, and Public Works Administration programs. In 1937, an
..increase in Mississippi’s allocation of federal funds for vocational education will permit the establishment of more than 40 new vocational units in the state. (Vocational Education Expanded, Hattiesburg American, August 19, 1937, p.2)
East Tupelo Consolidated School gained two programs from that expansion. Slated to be constructed was a Vocational Agriculture building and a Vocational Domestic Science department. The building pictured in the photographs is identified by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History as a canning plant, circa 1940. The building bears resemblance to the vocational units constructed near the end of the programs, such as the recent post about Vardaman’s vocational building. It appears than an addition was added to the end of the building to expand it, and original doors and windows were altered.
There is no record I can find that indicates if PWA or WPA funds were expended in the construction of this facility. A brief notation in chapter 17 from We Remember Elvis (Moore, Harris, Presley, & Clark, 2010) refers to making toys from “metal cans like those from the WPA canning plant.” The Daily Journal ran a “Retrospective of the 1940s and ’50s” column in 1999 that reported
March 24, 1945: East Tupelo canning plant will open May 1 to preserve surpluses from Victory Gardens. (Elkins, A. 1999. djournal.com)
Vocational canning plants differed from commercial because they were operated for canning products for home use, and as a method of training. The farmer or gardener brought in the produce and canned under the supervision of the teacher of agriculture (Agricultural Education, 1936). Canning was also a focus on Home Economics education.
‘Bring canning foods’ is the constant reminder announced daily to the girls taking ninth Home Ec. To date they have canned corn, okra, string beans, and lima beans. The class is delighted that not a can has spoiled. They have even mastered the art of canning with a steam pressure cooker, and have as their slogan, ‘all out for the canning front!’ (Bailey Bugle, September 30, 1942, p. 11)
The Inventory of Federal Archives in the States cumulative report through June 30, 1940 gives a glimpse into a few of the New Deal Administration programs that benefitted Mississippi:
- 184 new construction or additions to schools
- 200 reconstruction or improvement of schools
- 489 new public buildings
- 118 reconstruction of existing public buildings
- 7, 950 bridges and viaducts constructed or improved
- 25 new parks
- 104 new playgrounds and athletic fields.
Many of these schools and other buildings remain in use.