As with too many people and businesses
across the country in this
altered pandemic reality, museums
and living history sites struggled to
remain relevant to their usual inperson
visitors while sustaining their
staffs. Employees at many sites, working
remotely, adapted by creating engaging activities and
exhibitions for young and old while we all stayed at home.
Some sites have tentatively started to open, offering
limited events and tours while adhering to state-mandated
social distancing guidelines. Others in harder hit, more
populous regions continue to rely on digital content.
The pandemic presented a challenge for us this issue
in that we have featured the work of the heritage artisans
chosen for our annual Directory of Traditional American
Crafts in museum settings for nearly twenty years.
Originally we planned to travel to South Carolina,
intending to present the top artisans’ work within the
buildings of North Augusta’s Living History Park.
Startled by her community’s lack of knowledge about the
regionâ€™s colonial history—so often overshadowed by the
Civil War&,dash;Lynn Thompson and a dedicated group of
historically minded volunteers imagined and built a village
to engage children. Although we couldn’t tour the
park in person, we share the story in the following pages.
To continue our Directory tradition while minimizing
travel and potential health concerns, we revisited
nearby Historic Zoar Village, where we could photograph
the artisans’ work safely in the historic buildings. These
fine pieces stand out among the practical furnishings of
the Separatists who founded the village in 1817 and voted
to pool their resources for the good of the community.
In contrast, the home Jabez and Lydia Bacon designed
for themselves in 1760 in Woodbury, Connecticut, speaks
of the couple’s social aspirations in its fine Georgian
architecture. Current owners Ryan Fox and J.R. Cordrey
have filled it with a suitable collection of 18th-Century
furnishings, much of them made locally, as well as modern
influences. They show how “living green” by maintaining
a historic home can be both comfortable and rewarding.
As we sheltered at home, we rediscovered the joys and
challenges of maintaining and beautifying our own living
spaces. Indoors, many certainly tackled long-delayed
projects, perhaps tapping into that dormant knack for
needlecrafts or woodcarving. With winter finally behind
us (despite some mid-May snows, at least in northeast
Ohio), we emerged to plant flowers, trim trees, and plot
our vegetable gardens.
For my part, besides escaping outdoors to walk in the
nearby Metroparks with Bella, my rescue dog, I dusted off
my sewing machine, finished the living room curtains and
valances, and took up mask making.
I hope parents who suddenly found themselves in the
role of educators enlisted their children in building, cooking,
planting, sewing, and most of all, experiencing the
rewards of fruitful work and the pleasure of imaginative play.
As such places as Historic Zoar Village and the Living
History Park teach us, learning to be creative and selfsufficient
like our ancestors are skills worth celebrating
and nurturing—for ourselves, our communities, and the
generations who will follow.