The annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn – a longstanding American tradition.
Easter Egg Roll, White House Lawn. Ca. 1942 (RG 69-GU)
Maybe you’re planning to hunt them down, dye them brilliantly, roll them across the White House Lawn – or maybe you’re just hoping to get through the next two weeks with as few boiled eggs in your life as humanly possible. Whatever the case may be, it is hard to deny the importance eggs have in our diets year round. But where do these eggs come from before they reach our tables, our plates, and our lawns? Check out the story of eggs, as told by these 1920’s through the 1950’s images from the Department of Agriculture: RG 16-G.
First, eggs had to be gathered from the hens and hen houses.
16-G-128-2-3: Meeker Co., Minnesota. 7-15-41. G.B. Carpenter and Grandson, Frankie, leaving henhouse. Fred J. Marshal Farm.
16-G-128-S-13755-C: Mrs. Hicks farm. Finding the stolen nest, Iredell County, North Carolina. 1930
16-G-128-AAA-15090: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. 11-41. Virginia Goldbach delivers in gathering eggs fresh.
16-G-128-AAA-7474: Livingston Co., Illinois. 7-47. Roger, 5, and Marilyn Ann, 4, Henegger Pulling Basket of Eggs in Wagon.
Next, the eggs would be processed. This involved cleaning, weighing, checking to be sure no little chickens were growing within, grading, sorting, and packaging for distribution.
16-G-129-N-2906: Mrs. Ralph Seely of Delaware County, N.Y., weighs eggs to be marketed, so that they may be correctly graded. Her 11-year-old son, Gordon, carefully places in the crate the eggs that pass the weighing test. Forsythe, No. 1941
16-G-129-AAA-8208-W: Cache County, Utah. 12-41. Mr. Ballard and his son cleaning eggs in Cooling House. H.W. Ballard Farm.
16-G-130-AAA-9070: Prince Georges County, MD., Mrs. Laura V. Hammond, Negro farm woman, fills egg cases for Jerry C. Barnes, Negro poultry farmer of Prince George County, Md. Oct. 1943
Once processed and ready for purchase, the eggs had to make it to market! Sometimes they were shipped to stores or purchased at auction, sometimes they were sold door-to-door or purchased direct from the farmers, sometimes they were sold at local markets or collected through co-ops.
16-G-130-EXT-21782-B: Undated, illegible
16-G-130-S-6323: Mrs. Blalock and son Carlton figuring up on the egg account. Carlton sells his eggs at the HD market. N.C. May 1940
16-G-130-14956-B: Cooperative egg circle – receiving and paying for eggs. 1919
16-G-130-S-24069-C: Wooster, Ohio. Selling eggs at auction. August, 1938
16-G-130-S-15223-C: Retailing eggs from truck to home, Mahoning County, Ohio. August 1931
But regardless of where they came from, eggs were – and continue to be – eggceptionally important.