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The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

In the last half of the nineteenth century, the mystique of homespun spread. It attracted social reformers as well as conservatives, the arts and crafts movement as well as the colonial revival, and academic artists like Thomas Eakins as well as popular illustrators. By the 1890s, antique spinning wheels were everywhere.
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The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Nineteenth-century Americans understood that objects tell stories. They wrote their stories in speeches, memoirs, and poems, and on scraps of paper that they pinned, pasted, or sewed to the things they saved. These were stories about patriotism, family pride, and household industry, about resolute farmers, disappearing Indians, and grandmothers who spun and wove by the kitchen fire. Other stories slipped through their hands, surviving unnoticed in tax lists, vital records, newspapers, censuses, letters, diaries, probate records, merchants’ accounts, and in the objects themselves, waiting to be unpacked by genealogical research, historical reconstruction, and curatorial investigation. This is a book about the objects nineteenth-century Americans saved, the stories they told, and the stories that got away.
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Any crafting heroes?

I’m a historian, so I find inspiration from textile workers before me.  I find inspiration in the spinsters who spun for fourteen hours a day.  I find inspiration in the spinning circles of the American Revolution.  Those women are my heroes.

My mother and other thread workers who know more about skills or, more precisely, know more types of threadwork than I do, are my heroes.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is an amazing historian who has done a lot of neat work with women and textile workers, especially with spinning and cottage industry.  She’s one of my favorite historians and a hero of mine as well.

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