Free Shipping on Orders of $40 or More
Selling Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk, 1930-1940

Selling Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk, 1930-1940

by Jane S. Becker
Selling Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk, 1930-1940

Selling Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk, 1930-1940

by Jane S. Becker


$26.49 $29.99 Save 12% Current price is $26.49, Original price is $29.99. You Save 12%.

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now


The first half of the twentieth century witnessed a growing interest in America's folk heritage, as Americans began to enthusiastically collect, present, market, and consume the nation's folk traditions. Examining one of this century's most
prominent "folk revivals--the reemergence of Southern Appalachian handicraft traditions in the 1930s--Jane Becker unravels the cultural politics that bound together a complex network of producers, reformers, government officials, industries, museums, urban markets, and consumers, all of whom helped to redefine Appalachian craft production in the context of a national cultural identity.
Becker uses this craft revival as a way of exploring the construction of the cultural categories "folk" and "tradition." She also addresses the consequences such labels have had on the people to whom they have been assigned. Though the revival of domestic arts in the Southern Appalachians reflected an attempt to aid the people of an impoverished region, she says, as well as a desire to recapture an important part of the nation's folk heritage, in reality the new craft production owed less to tradition than to middle-class tastes and consumer culture--forces that obscured the techniques used by mountain laborers and the conditions in which they worked.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807860311
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 11/09/2000
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 360
Lexile: 1610L (what's this?)
File size: 10 MB

About the Author

Jane S. Becker, an independent scholar, received her Ph.D. in American studies from Boston University.

Table of Contents


1. The Domestication of Tradition
2. Creating an Appalachian America: Enlightening Our "Contemporary Ancestors," 1880-1935
3. The Southern Highland Handicraft Guild: Organizing a "Handicraft Culture"
4. Order Out of Chaos: The Federal Government and the Industrialization of Handicrafts
5. I Start as Early as I Can and Work as Hard as I Can: Mountain Craft Producers and Their Work
6. Labor or Leisure?: Industrial Homework and the Redefinition of Craftsmanship
7. Selling Tradition
Epilogue. True American History in the Bedroom at a Price

Jorena Pettway and her daughter, Gee's Bend, Alabama, making chaircovers and flower decorations, 1939
Basketry class at Denison House, Boston, 1915
Frances Densmore and Mountain Chief of the Blackfoot tribe listen to a cylinder recording, 1906
National Folk Festival Program book, 1936
Folk art from Abby Aldrich Rockefeller's collection on display at the Ludwell Paradise House in Williamsburg, Virginia
Woody Guthrie and Huddie Ledbetter, ca. 1941
Zilphia Horton of the Highlander Folk School and striking Chattanooga hosiery workers, 1940s
Migrant workers' camp near Prague, Oklahoma, 1939
Thomas Hart Benton, Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley, 1934
Dr. and Mrs. Albert Einstein with Hopi Indians at the Grand Canyon, 1931
Old Familiar Tunes, special catalog from Columbia Records, 1927
Dr. Humphrey Bate and his 'Possum Hunters, ca. 1930
"The Old Basket-Maker and His Wife," Kentucky, ca. 1915
Musicians at old-time fiddlers convention, ca. 1930
Cecil Sharp [and Olive Dame Campbell?] collecting old ballads and songs, ca. 1916
Weaver "warping her chain," ca. 1914
Aunt Cord Ritchie teaching local women to make baskets at Hindman Settlement School, 1938
Men woodcarving at John C. Campbell Folk School, ca. 1930
Granddaughters of William Creech, Pine Mountain, Ky.
Teaching basketmaking, North Carolina, 1930s
Advertisement for "handmade furniture," ca. 1938
Mrs. Anderson and her son making a hooked rug, Saluda, N.C.
Tufted candlewick spread, "Blue Bell" pattern
Advertisement for Eleanor Beard's hand-quilted coats, 1930s
Advertisement for Cabin Crafts needletufted bedspreads, 1942
Farm family weaving chair bottoms, Knott County, Ky., 1933
Souvenir stand, Route 41, Georgia, 1930s
Articles made of coverlet weavings and hooked mats
The Spinning Wheel, Asheville, N.C.
Advertisement for mountain pottery, ca. 1939
Advertisement for mountain basketry, ca. 1938-39
Penland Weavers and Potters' "Travellog," ca. 1933
Penland Weavers and Potters' "Carolina Cabin," ca. 1933-34
Advertisement for Drexel Furniture Co., 1942
Advertisement for Smithsonian quilt reproductions, 1992

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Rarely has a historiographic treatment of material culture achieved the transdisciplinary scope that Jane S. Becker's has. . . . Becker is extremely thorough in her analysis and comprehensive in her research. The result is a significant contribution to scholarship.—American Historical Review

For Becker, the history of handicrafts illuminates the search for American culture as itself a phenomenon worth noticing. It is this that makes this book so important.—Journal of American History

A book that should be of great value in folklife and women's studies as well as in regional studies.—Journal of Southern History

Selling Tradition's strength is Becker's ability to reveal the multifaceted economic relationships that sustained the crafts industry. Her depth of knowledge is stunning. . . . As a work of cultural history it remains an important accomplishment. To anyone who had assumed that crafts were simple expressions of a naive mountain folk culture, the book will offer a startling wake-up call. To anyone interested in the depression-era search for a true American culture, it will serve as a valuable companion to other works that address aspects of this subject.—Winterthur Portfolio

Becker makes a significant contribution to that growing body of regional literature with her fascinating and exhaustively researched study of the cultural politics surrounding Southern mountain handicraft traditions.—The Review of Politics

The best and most detailed accounting to date of the rich decade of development of the Appalachian crafts and folk festivals.—Journal of Appalachian Studies

Jane Becker's book fills a major need in cultural and regional studies. Her thorough and wide-ranging scholarship illuminates a pivotal but heretofore only superficially examined aspect of the cultural politics of the 1930s. It should appeal to a wide audience.—David Whisnant, author of All That Is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region

Jane Becker's book remains strong in my memory. It is a model of humane scholarship. It demonstrates that as much as we would like to think otherwise, the Arts and Crafts movement relied on the creation of something like a sweatshop, now relocated into southern mountain homes. The well-intentioned instigators of this work, mostly elites from the Northeast, had little idea of how they were actually intensifying the poor conditions of those to whom they thought they were ministering. The story Jane Becker tells is not pretty, but it is fascinating and deeply informative.—Roger D. Abrahams, University of Pennsylvania

Customer Reviews