Artisans in the North Carolina backcountry /
Johanna Miller Lewis.
Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c1995.
xii, 200 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.
0813119081 (acid-free recycled paper)
More Details
Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c1995.
0813119081 (acid-free recycled paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [178]-190) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1995-11:
Lewis's study examines prerevolutionary artisans in isolated Rowan County, those from Moravian Church ranks, who frequently journeyed down from Pennsylvania. Tracing their religious and secular experiences, Lewis portrays their diligence and simplicity, the self-sufficient colony they founded in the rural village of Wachovia, and the pivotal role of the few artisans among them. She shows how a developing road system, local merchants, and trading towns outside the immediate region transformed the county, and describes the appeal of the outside world, where for some artisans, money and property overcame devotion to the Moravian brethren. Using deeds, wills, store ledgers, and court minutes as sources, Lewis recounts the end of the semicommunal life style and notes the impact of that most important political event in Colonial North Carolina, the Regulator Movement of the late 1760s. But her study is disappointingly small-scale and unidimensional, and unlike others, fails to reveal the language, prejudices, aspirations, and daily customs, i.e., the norms, values, and shared meanings of artisanal life. Complements Michael Shirley's From Congregational Town to Industrial City (CH, Oct'94). Graduate, faculty. M. Cantor; University of Massachusetts at Amherst
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, November 1995
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Unpaid Annotation
During the quarter of a century before the thirteen colonies became a nation, the northwest quadrant of North Carolina had just begun to attract permanent settlers. This seemingly primitive area may not appear to be a likely source for attractive pottery and ornate silverware and furniture, much less for an audience to appreciate these refinements. Yet such crafts were not confined to urban centers, and artisans, like other colonists, were striving to create better lives for themselves as well as to practice their trades. As Johanna Miller Lewis shows in this pivotal study of colonial history and material culture, the growing population of Rowan County required not only blacksmiths, saddlers, and tanners but also a great variety of skilled craftsmen to help raise the standard of living. Rowan County's rapid expansion was in part the result of the planned settlements of the Moravian Church. Because the Moravians maintained careful records, historians have previously credited church artisans with greater skill and more economic awareness than non-church craftsmen. Through meticulous attention to court and private records, deeds, wills, and other sources, Lewis reveals the Moravian failure to keep up with the pace of development occurring elsewhere in the county. Challenging the traditional belief that southern backcountry life was primitive, Lewis shows that many artisans held public office and wielded power in the public sphere. She also examines women weavers and spinsters as an integral part of the population. All artisans - Moravian and non-Moravian, male and female - helped the local market economy expand to include coastal and trans-Atlantic trade.

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