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Credit Due

As a graduate history student, one of my favorite textbooks—for an undergraduate survey course taught by the professor I worked for—was Red, White, and Black, by Gary Nash. In it he explored the interactions among Native Americans, enslaved Africans, and white European settlers besides the English and the roles they played in establishing our nation.

Although it mostly neglected the contributions of women, the book offered a wider perspective than traditional histories written by the (usually white, male) victors. Fortunately, modern scholars of diverse genders, ethnicities, and experiences continue to broaden our understanding of the contributions made by all those who settled here.

We strive to play a part in that effort. In this issue, for instance, the two homes we feature owe much of their design as well as their decorating style to women of vision and talent.

Gail Reeder grew up in southern Kentucky admiring the craftsmanship of her father, who built houses and furniture based on time-tested methods. When life circumstances mandated she find a smaller home, she tapped into those memories to design a classic Cape while still satisfying the architectural guidelines of her neighborhood development. Naturally she filled it with antique cupboards and crocks, textiles and wooden ware that further speak of her reverence for the past.

In Ohio, the Fergusons bought their first and only home when they married in 1979, and Gayle set out to take its interior back to the early 1800s, going so far as to knock out a wall and redesign the kitchen. During husband Don’s absences with Navy Reserve duty, she taught herself to paint, glaze, and stencil walls, stitch curtains, and craft floorcloths.

We can thank the ingenuity of America’s First Peoples for designing a method to travel through the mounds of snow unfamiliar to Europeans emigrating from more temperate climes. What early settlers called a sledge—a flat-bottomed vehicle without runners that could glide atop the drifts—helped establish the that drew them to the continent. Voyageurs quickly adopted the new method of transport and a version Native name, calling it the “toboggan.”

The Natives also gave us nasaump, the North American version of grain boiled in liquid&mash;soup—that sustained people around the world for millennia, especially after someone invented the pot. We offer a bit of and recipes drawn from various cultures to warm table when the cold weather arrives.

Much as we might like to think Levi Strauss blue jeans, historian Kimberly Alexander tells us cloth we call denim has been around since at least 1600s. Despite its murky origins, what we do know its durable weave made it the first choice for heavy- working wear in Europe and later America—worn servants and the enslaved, sailors and soldiers.

Not to neglect the contributions of our British forebears, we explore the carronade—a shorter cannon developed by Scottish engineers to increase the of ships battling at close range. Ships outfitted with carronades helped the American Navy win the Battle Erie during the War of 1812.

Whatever the origins of America’s inventions traditions, we want to give credit where credit is due—especially when we can highlight the work of people often find their way into the pages of history.

Jeanmarie Andrews

Executive Editor

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