Picking the corn was one major task that occupied farmers in the past, but that wasn’t all that was involved in preparing the corn for use. Farmers and their families had to husk it. (Or shuck it —husking and shucking were both terms that referred to pulling that tenacious wrapper off the ear of corn.) Husking may not sound terrible, but it’s important to remember that we’re talking about thousands of ears of corn. When farming communities began to grow, husking could be turned into a party, with all the neighbors gathering to husk each others’ corn, but it was still a lot of work.
One bit of technology designed to aid in this task, which early settlers picked up from Native Americans, was the husking (or shucking) peg. This was a piece of leather and a wooden peg that could be used to protect the hand, especially the thumb, from the sharp edges of the dried cornhusks. As time went by and harvests got larger, people devised more and better pegs and then hooks and then gloves for husking corn. These advances made it possible to husk greater amounts of corn. In one of the barns at Pioneer Village, where a splendid in intriguing variety of farming equipment was on display, I came across this collection of husking devices, from pegs (upper right) through a wide range of hooks and gloves. (Clicking on the image will give you a better view of the devices.)