Some Domestic Thoughts

My youngest helped me put away all of the Passover dishes. It was a big job, not as big as getting ready for Passover but still-- a job. It is definately easier getting it done with one big kid rather than doing it with a bunch of toddlers underfoot.

The flurry of cooking over  Passover has gotten me thinking about some of the larger issues of domesticity. that and reading the truly excellent The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of the American Myth, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.  In the book, Ulrich explores several different objects created anywhere from the mid 1600's to the early period of the industrial revolution and sets them into their historical context.

I hadn't really thought about how the labor of women producing fiber helped the cause of the American Revolution. Apparently, early in the Revolution, women spun in public, in Boston Common to show their support for the Revolution. These displays were followed by militias marching. Both were differnet versions of the same act.

Women during colonial times and into the early 1800's used to keep tabs of  retail value of their labors and exchange their labors with neighbors based on these values. Funny, this global understanding of the value of fiber work seems to be lost these days. A constant complaint in my sewing discussion groups is when friends ask for sewing favors  not understanding that the labor has an actual monetary value. Women's work was an active part of the economic life of families.

The focus of this book is New England.  I grew up just south of Boston and have vacationed in New Hampshire, Maine and in Western Massachusetts. So while my base was just outside of Boston, I have close ties so many other areas in New England. I would have assumed that this is due to the fact that I live in the age of easy car travel. But even in the 1600's much to my suprise there was lots of movement throughout the region. A woman's story, might take her from five miles from where I grew up  to just south of Montreal.

I also just loved to learn the names of the people and families who give their names to the towns and mountains and streets that I know so well.

A thought provoking read, for those of you, who like me are love the history of textiles.


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