Western Kentucky University’s Department of Library Special Collections is pleased to present “Milling Around: Flour in Our Cupboard,” an exhibit that features forty of the nearly two hundred Kentucky flour bags from its collection. The bags with bold and bright iconography document an industry that was once local but is now consolidated into huge conglomerates.
At one time almost every hamlet of any consequence boasted one or more water- or steam-powered mills that produced flour and/or corn meal. Beside flour bags, the exhibit features stationery with mill logos, books about mills—including a 1795 copy of the Young Mill Wright, photographs, and other ephemera, as well as a millstone. One case features cloth flour bags. After consuming the flour, customers used the bleached cotton bags for towels, cleaning rags, backing for quilts and even clothing. As a marketing ploy, many flour mills eventually sold their flour in printed cotton fabric bags of varied colors and designs. These bags were specifically made to be converted into fabric for clothing, quilting and other household uses.
“Milling Around” will run from February 1 to May 12, 2017.