This article utilizes the interdisciplinary tools of material culture and oral history to explore the ways in which black women from a rural Mississippi community called “the Crossroads” represent—in material form—their social, cultural, and historical experiences. Through an analysis of oral history interviews with black women who were born between 1927 and 1947 and who worked as sharecroppers and domestics at the Crossroads during Jim Crow, I demonstrate how they used material objects (for instance, repurposed Prince Albert tobacco tins as hair rollers flour sacks as dresses, and Sears Roebuck catalogs as wallpaper) and engaged in makeshifting, which I define as black women’s logical, material, temporary responses to discrimination, oppression, racism, or lack. Through makeshifting, these women organized the logics of culture and community; reimagined their circumstances; and resisted in the face of poverty and racial, class, and gender discrimination during the early twentieth century.


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pp. 120-137
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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