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The Golden Age of Homespun

"You have seen neglected oxbows, but what do you know of their making or of the training of a yoke of oxen? . . . What do you know of the rambling shoemakers who came to a farmhouse and stayed until each member of the family was newly shod with leather from the farm's cattle? Have you ever wondered about the processes by which our frontiersmen translated forest land into fields of wheat? What do you know about those two first crops of the pioneers, ashes and maple sugar? What do you know of log houses, of shingle making, bridges, and flax growing, of spinning and weaving cloth for a garment that was homegrown and homemade? Here is folk history, the accumulated memory of old men and women whom the author knew, . . . memories he has substantiated by a lifetime of research." from the Foreword by Louis C. JonesThe Golden Age of Homespun chronicles the occupations, handicrafts, and traditions that defined rural life in upstate New York and throughout much of America in the first half of the nineteenth century. First published in 1953, it is an engaging and affectionate account of how land was cleared, farms established, and homes built; of how each family fed, clothed, and warmed itself; and of the trades, crafts, and industries that augmented a primarily agrarian economy. Illustrated with 45 delightful line drawings that depict the activities and implements described by Jared van Wagenen, Jr., The Golden Age of Homespun is an invaluable record of how upstate New York farmers lived on and off the land in the decades before the Civil War a vanished way of life that still holds strong appeal in the American imagination.
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"The true links that bind Americans to their past may happily be found here. The Golden Age of Homespun has done more to present the manner of early American living than any similar book known to this reviewer."-Carl Carmer, New York Times "Jaren van Wagenen has put together in this book the full and fascinating record of the lore and methods-the economic and social life-by which upstate New York farmers lived on and off the land in the 'Golden Age of Homespun.' ... With rare down-to-earth artistry and a large amount of nostalgia, he has preserved, before memory and tradition wholly perish, the story of early farm life, household handicrafts, and rural occupations."-Henry Christman, New York Herald Tribune "Work and play, it is all here, and let us be particularly grateful that The Golden Age of Homespun is not just one more book distilled out of other books but a more readable and delightful essay and history, written from life itself and from loving memory."-Henry Beston, William and Mary Quarterly

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