Ottumwa Library presenter puts history lesson in a bag

The Ottumwa Public Library's Reminisce Society brought a new lesson on the Great Depression Era Tuesday morning.

Humanities Iowa speaker Michael Zahs gave a presentation called Iowa History in a Cloth Bag. He explained to a packed meeting room about how marketing cloth flour sacks to women helped Iowans survive the Great Depression. Flour sacks were embroidered to encourage people to reuse them. Women made the cotton, linen or satin sacks into towels, clothing and other household decor.

"It enabled people to recycle things," Zahs said. "It was one of the very first things to be recycled and it helped people to be able to survive a time when they had very little by using things that came with you know sugar sacks or flour sacks things that they had to have then they could reuse the bag."

Mext for Zahs will be the annual feed sack show in Ainsworth, Iowa. The speaker said America continues to send feed sacks overseas. The cloth bags have 14 different languages printed on them.