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Mountain Homespun

Frances Louisa Goodrich, With a New Preface and Introduction by Jan Davidson

Publication Year: 2010

Frances Goodrich’s Mountain Homespun—with intriguing elements of travel book, folklore study, sociological tract, “local color” fiction, and personal memoir—is an account of one of the earliest programs to revive mountain crafts. Goodrich, educated at the Yale Art School, started out as a religious social worker and was assigned by the Presbyterian Home Missions to Buncombe and Madison counties in North Carolina. Her book tells of the early days of Allanstand Cottage Industries, one of the first of the handicraft revival programs. Mountain Homespun provides information about the processes and the meaning of traditional mountain crafts that is not to be found anywhere else. Goodrich touches on basketry, quilting, and other crafts, but her focus is on weaving, spinning, and dyeing. Of particular interest is her information about how to read weaving drafts—recipes for the spreads—with their marks that tell the weaver how to thread the loom and in which order to “tramp” the pedals. As Jan Davidson’s introduction shows, Goodrich’s work was not initially intended to preserve mountain crafts, but to use them for social and economic purposes as part of a campaign to “uplift” the mountain people. Hers was a cultural intervention of massive proportions that changed the methods of production, the materials, the tools, the motives of the workers, and, eventually, who was doing the work. The story told in Mountain Homespun sheds light on what happens when urban intellectuals intervene in the folk process—and what the intervention does to the folk and the objects they make. Mountain Homespun is thus not only essential for those who would understand the history of such organizations as the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild, but instructive for cultural workers as well as today’s buyers of “mountain crafts.”

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press

Contents: Volume

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pp. vii

Thanks first to Eleanor B. Goodrich and Mary Hilliker, who shared Aunt Fan with me. Thanks to the people at the Jackson County Public Library, Sylva, NC; Holderness, NH, Public Library; WCU Special Collections, Hunter Library, Cullowhee, NC; Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, NC; Berea College Library ...

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pp. 1-35

I n the course of researching an exhibit project called Coverlets: New Threads in Old Patterns, to be sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts Folklife program, the Mountain Heritage Center staff borrowed about 40 old coverlets made between 1850 and 1930 in ten Western North Carolina counties. We began to notice that the coverlets, all made by piecing narrow strips together, had two kinds of seams: matched and unmatched. As the stories of the ...


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pp. 36-40

Works Cited

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pp. 41-43

Index to Introduction

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pp. 44-47

Front Pages: Mountain Homespun


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pp. xiii


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pp. xv-xvi

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Part I. The Crafts

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pp. 1-35

In the grounds of Mount Vernon, hard by the flower beds of Martha Washington, there is a small building filled with implements strange to the eyes of many of this generation, but of the first utility in old times. There are spinning wheels large and small, foot-power looms, heckles, flax brakes, reels, winding blades, and many other objects-all for one end, the ...

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Part II. The People

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pp. 37-79

When I first saw Aunt Liza she was "upwards in sixty," but still strong and active, with brisk step and bright eyes. Later the strength was weakened and the step more slow, but to the end of her days the spirit within her looked out of those gray eyes with the keen interest in things and in people which was her birthright. ...


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pp. 89-91

E-ISBN-13: 9781572337343
E-ISBN-10: 1572337346
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572337183
Print-ISBN-10: 1572337184

Page Count: 204
Illustrations: 69 halftones, 4 line drawings
Publication Year: 2010