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See the best traditional artists in America
For those who read or want to write for the magazine
No one can ever know everything about
a particular subject. No matter how
much has been written, researchers
continue to discover new information
and offer more nuanced interpretations.
That’s what makes the study of
American history so fascinating.
Consider the cotton gin. We all know that Eli Whitney
invented it and that its success spread the production
of cotton—and slavery&mash;across the South, right?
Well, sort of. As Winfield Ross writes, it seems Mr. Whitney
and his partner were better promoters than inventors,
and gins have been around for millennia. Whitney scored
the first patent only because he had friends in high places.
Cotton cultivation is one aspect to be explored at the
International African American Museum in Charleston,
opening in January. This stunning structure is built not
on but above the former Gadsden’s Wharf, where tens of
thousands of Africans arrived during the trans-Atlantic
Permanent and changing exhibitions,
a family genealogy center, and an African
Ancestors Memorial Garden that looks back
across the ocean literally and figuratively
invite visitors to explore the full lives of
enslaved persons—from their roots on the
African continent to the accomplishments of
their descendants in America today.
Considered sacred ground by Africans and
their descendants, Gadsden’s Wharf played a
smaller but no less horrific role in the international
slave trade than most believe, according
to a local historian. Ships’ manifests reveal that
enslaved persons disembarked on this particular
wharf for barely two years before the U.S.
Constitution banned the trade.
The private homes in this issue benefited
from the owners’ increasing knowledge of
building styles and techniques. In Pennsylvania,
Bob and Darlene Pors crafted a near
replica of a 1750s Colonial Williamsburg
home—slightly larger and with modern amenities—
relying on their study of historic architecture
and decades of hands-on restoration
In Michigan, Lyn and Karen Beekman
downsized to a 1700s-style New England
cape after nearly four decades in a central hall
colonial—designing and building both
houses mostly by themselves. As they worked
on the smaller cape for one-floor living, they
incorporated what they had learned with the
first house, creating an even more authentic
The restoration of Emily Dickinson’s home in
Amherst, Massachusetts, offers a window into the world
of the often enigmatic poet, whose verses are filled with
literary and historical references grounded in the places
she inhabited—a much more colorful world than you
might imagine for the purported recluse.
Colorful also describes the glass wares produced
by the self-styled “Baron” Henry William Stiegel, who
operated one of America’s few successful glass factories
before the Revolution, in Manheim, Pennsylvania. Ware
Petznick’s in-depth examination of pieces attributed to
Stiegel (who never signed his work) suggests that more
objects might be confidently attributed to him than museums
and antiques dealers previously believed.
The delight in discovering new details about our past
keeps us engaged in the belief that knowing our history
will enable us to help change it for the better. We hope
you enjoy that exploration as much as we do.
The entry deadline for the 2023 Directory of
Traditional American Crafts has passed. We are now processing entries and submitting
them to our jurors. We will contract entrants after the jurors have made ther decisions.