The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth

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Alfred A. Knopf, 2001 - History - 501 pages
5 Reviews
Using objects that Americans have saved through the centuries and stories they have passed along, as well as histories teased from documents, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich chronicles the production of cloth--and of history--in early America. Under the singular and brilliant lens that Ulrich brings to this study, ordinary household goods--Indian baskets, spinning wheels, a chimneypiece, a cupboard, a niddy-noddy, bed coverings, silk embroidery, a pocketbook, a linen tablecloth, a coverlet and a rose blanket, and an unfinished stocking--provide the key to a transformed understanding of cultural encounter, frontier war, Revolutionary politics, international commerce, and early industrialization in America. We discover how ideas about cloth and clothing affected relations between English settlers and their Algonkian neighbors. We see how an English production system based on a clear division of labor--men doing the weaving and women the spinning--broke down in the colonial setting, becoming first marginalized, then feminized, then politicized, and how the new system both prepared the way for and was sustained by machine-powered spinning.
Pulling these divergent threads together into a rich and revealing tapestry of --the age of homespun, --Ulrich demonstrates how ordinary objects reveal larger economic and social structures, and, in particular, how early Americans and their descendants made, used, sold, and saved textiles in order to assert identities, shape relationships, and create history.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nedoba - LibraryThing

An enjoyable read. Fascinating artifacts and incredible research behind the stories. Almost every chapter includes something about local Natives! Finally, someone has written Native People back into American History. On a scale of 1-10 she gets a 12 in book book. Read full review

THE AGE OF HOMESPUN: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A chronicle of New England cloth production—as well as an exploration of the production of history.Commonplace American objects, far from being ordinary, have contributed to our national identity ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
3
The Age of Homespun
11
An Indian Basket
41
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is Phillips Professor of Early American History at Harvard University. Formerly a professor of American history at the University of New Hampshire, she is the author of Good Wives (1982) and numerous articles and essays on early American history. She won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1991 for A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary, 1785--1812. Born and raised in the Rocky Mountain West, she has lived in New England since 1960. During her tenure as a MacArthur Fellow, she assisted in the production of a PBS documentary based on A Midwife’s Tale. Her work is also featured on an award-winning Web site called dohistory.org. She and her husband, Gael Ulrich, are the parents of five grown children.

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