The Age of Homespun

The Age of Homespun

Objects and Stories in the Creation of An American Myth

Book - 2001
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They began their existence as everyday objects, but in the hands of award-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, fourteen domestic items from preindustrial America-ranging from a linen tablecloth to an unfinished sock-relinquish their stories and offer profound insights into our history.

In an age when even meals are rarely made from scratch, homespun easily acquires the glow of nostalgia. The objects Ulrich investigates unravel those simplified illusions, revealing important clues to the culture and people who made them. Ulrich uses an Indian basket to explore the uneasy coexistence of native and colonial Americans. A piece of silk embroidery reveals racial and class distinctions, and two old spinning wheels illuminate the connections between colonial cloth-making and war. Pulling these divergent threads together, Ulrich demonstrates how early Americans made, used, sold, and saved textiles in order to assert their identities, shape relationships, and create history.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2001
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780679766445
Branch Call Number: History 974.03 Ulr


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Feb 24, 2017

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Having recently taken up spinning and weaving myself, it was fascinating to read about the women of the colonial and post-colonial era, who spent so much of their time and energy on creating cloth--which we take entirely for granted now--and how these skills were a matter of physical survival for many people; how cloth-making contributed to the economic, cultural, and political climate of the time, and how financially valuable these skills were as well. (I think my favorite story in the entire book is about a handspun, handwoven linen tablecloth which was valued at considerably more than the table it rested on.) I also greatly enjoyed learning about how the society in that time and place was far more varied and complex than I had ever imagined.


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