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

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Synopsis

They began their existence as everyday objects, but in the hands of Bancroft 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.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is currently Phillips Professor of Early American History and 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard. Her book A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1795-1812, won the Pulitzer Prize in History, the Bancroft Prize, and the American Historical Society's John H. Dunning and Joan Kelly Memorial Prizes. Ulrich's discovery of Martha Ballard and work on the diary has been chronicled in a documentary film written and produced by Laurie Kahn-Leavitt with major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Experience television series. Ulrich is also the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and many other honors and awards.
 
Published August 22, 2009 by Vintage. 512 pages
Genres: History, Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Commonplace American objects, far from being ordinary, have contributed to our national identity, argues Ulrich (History/Harvard Univ.), who looks at 14 textiles and related tools preserved by 19th-century Americans.

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The New York Times

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Laurel Thatcher Ulrich shows how artifacts of American material culture are windows on the past -- and on our romanticization of the past.

Nov 11 2001 | Read Full Review of The Age of Homespun: Objects ...

The New York Times

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''The Age of Homespun'' is loosely but effectively organized around 14 specific objects, including two baskets, two spinning wheels, a yarn winder, a rug, a tablecloth and ''an unfinished stocking.'' If this list seems unprepossessing on its face, the point is all that Ulrich makes of it through ...

Nov 11 2001 | Read Full Review of The Age of Homespun: Objects ...

Publishers Weekly

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Historian Ulrich (author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning A Midwife's Tale) has not set out to deflate the sentimentality that accompanies Bushnell's vision, but rather to trace its genesis and understand how it has weathered the test of time.

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