Volume 10, Number 1, 2011
Volume 10, Number 1, 2011
A Plimoth Plantation Publication
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In Memory of Peter Gomes On The Faith of Our Forebears With a Prosperous Wind The Three Râ€™s of Indian Country An Interview with Bernard Bailyn The Hornblower Award House with Three Fires A Proud Day Commemorating the Pilgrims Ways to Support Plimoth Plantation Cranberry Tart Dressed to Till Remembering Plimoth Plantation
Dear Members and Friends of Plimoth Plantation,
Ellie Donovan Executive Director Richard Pickering Deputy Executive Director Susan Loucks Director of Development Project Manager Susan Loucks Designer Marie Pelletier Editors Kate LaPrad Richard Pickering Photographers Jamie Connor John Cook Kate LaPrad Marie Pelletier Al Solomon Fred Watsi Photo Research Karin Goldstein Anna Thompson Kristin Ware Plimoth Plantation is a private, nonprofit educational institution supported by admission fees, contributions, memberships, function sales and revenue from our dining programs /s ervices and museum shops. The Museum receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, private foundations, corporations, local businesses and individual donors and members. For more information visit www.plimoth.org or call 508 746 -1622 ext. 8226 This issue of Plimoth Life is funded in part by the Ida and William Rosenthal Foundation.
You may have noticed our nod to Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid on the cover. Vermeer is one of several artists whose work opens a light-filled window into the past for the historians who set up the interiors of our Colonial exhibits. Someone said of Vermeer’s paintings that they are so alive you could “stand in front of one for hours and still see something new.” So it is at Plimoth Plantation. You can visit every month or every week and still see something new. How can stories about people who lived four centuries ago still be new today? Easy. ‘New’ is in the eye and mind of the beholder. I see the new in the schoolchildren who are wide-eyed with delight as they see, touch and hear (even smell and taste) elements of history unavailable to them in schoolbooks. I hear it from the many family genealogists, international visitors, student interns, and friends from the local community who find new and unexpected meaning in their visits here. The ‘new’ is also in our public programs. We will be trying out some exciting new things in 2012. Be sure to reNEW your membership so you don’t miss out ! This issue of Plimoth Life is much like a visit to Plimoth Plantation. Here you’ll find a captivating array of history and scholarship, food and religion, building and sailing, sewing and celebrating. Read on for an interview with esteemed historian and Pulitzer prize-winning author Dr. Bernard Bailyn. Boston College professor and historian of religion, Dr. James Weiss, shares why the presentation of religion at Plimoth is both nuanced and necessary. We present excerpts from a talk given to Plimoth Plantation staff by Dr. J. Cedric Woods, the Director for the University of Massachusetts Institute for New England Native American Studies. Plimoth staff provide notes on getting period costuming right, they update you on a new house at the Wampanoag Homesite, prepare Mayflower II to sail, and bake a cranberry tart. And we remember the lives of two individuals, separated by centuries, but both with connections to Plimoth: the Reverend Professor Peter J. Gomes and Joel Iacoomes. I hope that you will find something new in these pages—a welcome discovery, a curious fact, a thought that inspires you, information unlocked—something that opens a window and lets the light shine in in a new way on this remarkable time and place. Gratefully,
Ellie Donovan Executive Director
Cover: Based on Johannes Vermeer’s painting, The Milkmaid, circa 1658.
In Memory of Peter Gomes 1942-2011 Reverend Professor Gomes, foreground right, with Colonial role player Dr.John Kemp on the left.
limoth Plantation lost a cherished friend and counselor in the person of the Reverend Professor Peter J. Gomes. Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard University, and best-selling author of The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart, Reverend Professor Gomes was a Trustee from 1979 to 1988 and an Honorary Trustee from 2007 until his death earlier this year.
Reverend Professor Gomes was a close friend of the Museum’s founder, Henry Hornblower. He was a frequent speaker at the Hornblower Award, an annual event honoring the founder’s enduring legacy. His unrivalled oratorical skill, sparkling wit and insights on the Museum’s history created evenings filled with laughter and new perceptions of Plimoth Plantation’s role in our nation’s life.
In honor of Reverend Professor Gomes and his decades of support for Plimoth Plantation, the Museum dedicated the 2011 season to his memory. At the dedicatory ceremony, Chairman of the Board Stephen Brodeur said, “Reverend Gomes was more than a Plimoth Plantation friend, he was one of the original torch bearers, who believed that the history of the Pilgrims’ arrival and survival in New England was an inspirational and uniquely American story.”
This year, succeeding his beloved friend as the Hornblower Award speaker, Dr. Christopher Pyle, the Class of 1926 Professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College, remembered Reverend Professor Gomes with words drawn from Pilgrim John Howland’s epitaph: “He was a godly man, and an ancient professor in the ways of Christ.” a
On the Faith of our Forebears by James M. Weiss
“So all you Puritans came straight from England because you believe everyone should practice the religion they believe in, right ? And so you’re opposed to the King and his church and you just follow what Jesus says in the Gospels, right ? Well, a lot of us feel the same way. We’re proud to share your faith.”
he composite of guest comments above—every fact and assumption incorrect—dramatizes the dilemmas of discussing religion aboard Mayflower II and in the 17th-Century English Village. Religious issues have grown dominant, even divisive, in contemporary America. An added complexity at Plimoth is that most Americans take some pride in what they might call the Pilgrim heritage, yet few identify with what they think of as Puritan culture. (“Pilgrims, hurrah! Puritans, boo!” as Peter Gomes once memorably said.) So the range of guest attitudes varies enormously. Many visitors, especially from abroad, take a secular culture for granted and are amazed, even put off, to find religion so focal to the characters portrayed by the Museum’s Pilgrim role players. Some deeply religious persons and groups, on the other hand, wrongly assume their values are identical with the Plymouth colonists’ beliefs. Yet other religious groups (especially Episcopalians, Jews, and Catholics) expect to find nothing at all in common with the colonists. All are in for surprises: the point that every “fact” and assumption is flat wrong in
the composite question above suggests the delicacy and difficulty which the role-playing interpreters gladly take up, day by day, guest by guest. As one interpreter wrote to me, “It’s easy to delight our visitors, but we work hard to avoid the great potential to disturb and disappoint them.” What are the major points about religion in Colonial Plymouth that call for clarification? First, of course, they were not of one mind about faith. The colonists included reforming Puritans and contented Anglicans, but even Puritans differed among themselves, some being Separatists who despaired of the “King’s Church,” others being Puritan Anglicans who hoped for its reform. Guests are surprised to learn how many Separatists had sojourned at Leiden, where John Robinson’s ministry profoundly shaped them; most Role player portraying William Brewster contemplates the 1560 edition of the Geneva Bible. This Calvinist translation was used by the Separatists of Plymouth Colony and other Protestant Reformed churches.
Many of the Separatists lived in Leiden, Holland before coming to Plymouth Colony. 1659 panorama of Leiden, Plimoth Plantation Collections.
visitors think that everyone came directly from England, but the difference between those who knew Robinson and those who didn’t could be telling. The fact, too, that most 1620 Mayflower crew were loyal Church of England men, means shipboard Museum role players can tell guests they consider the Puritans deranged. It adds to the merry mix.
Satan’s ploy – that was one of their complaints about the Netherlands. Indeed, the Church of England had an almost more modern policy of tolerating religious differences in its own midst than did the Puritans, Separatists or reformist Anglicans.
Second, the Colonists maintained a delicate balance between religious and political conformity and nonconformity, often varying by slight nuances in different households. Most guests, along with assuming religious uniformity among Colonists, expect that they are democratic anti-monarchists. Whatever seeds of democracy they may have nurtured, their conscious allegiance to the King was a matter of life and death. Thus, even as some objected to “his” church, they spoke of it cautiously as the “bishops’ church” while professing loyalty to the Crown. The third and perhaps most shocking thing for many Americans concerns the freedom of religion. A great gap separates Plymouth of the 1620s and the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights. While the Puritan Separatists came for freedom of religion, they meant it for their religion alone, not as a universal right. Their history, and that of New England, is rife with examples of enforced religious uniformity. They considered toleration of other religions a weakness,
Their religious culture shows other striking differences when compared with Christian groups today. The Puritans relied far more heavily on the “Old Testament” than on the New Testament. In current interfaith usage, the term “Old Testament” is being replaced by “Hebrew Scriptures” or “First Testament” to promote Jewish-Christian understanding. The traditional term is followed here to represent the 1600s’ usage. The Old Testament, moreover, provided ways of interpreting
The Lord’s Supper was not celebrated in the early years of Plymouth Colony because there was no ordained minister serving the church.
history that all religious 17th-century Europeans readily applied to their own recent history, including the wars, international alliances, and natural disasters of their age. Hence, while Biblical law counted strongly in their communal religion and social interactions, the notion of a strong relationship to Christ “as my personal savior” was virtually unknown. They did not despair— well, not all of them—of the Native Peoples’ salvation, nor of that of their own children who went unbaptized for lack of an authorized minister.
As Museum interpreters listen carefully to guests, they craft their comments to encourage new insights. The attentive visitor thus learns to listen carefully as well. The best learning comes by repeated visits and many conversations with role players. a
Nor was Puritan religion as puritanical as many assume. Anyone visiting the 17th-Century English Village during wedding reenactments will catch the lighter side at once. Yet every day the Museum’s role players are at pains to show the unexpectedly merry side of Colonial life. Songs, riddles and stories (even gossip) poured forth from them at work, at home, and in between. They dearly loved—and missed—good beer and ale. That old time religion was a far cry from today’s Christian experience, even though we longingly —and to some degree rightfully—assume we are its democratic, freedom-loving heirs. Each role-playing interpreter bravely shoulders the task of encountering modern assumptions and gently, teasingly, invitingly moving the visitor to new insights. Of course, each interpreter can only speak from within her or his specific character, with the limits imposed by that character’s social role and education. The Brewsters’ mild housemaid, the Anglican Myles Standish, the Puritan Elizabeth Hopkins, the rascally Mr. Smith of the ship’s crew, will answer each question as differently as any four citizens today. Explaining the construction of an early house or the planting of a garden may be complex, but not half so tricky as expounding on the construction of faith and the planting of the Gospel.
The Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer has provided the order of worship for Sabbath services, holy days and the ceremonies of Christian rites of passage from baptism to burial since the reign of Edward VI (1537-1553). Plimoth Plantation Collections.
James Weiss is professor of Church History at Boston College and a consultant on religion for Plimoth Plantation. He thanks the role-playing interpreters who greatly assisted him in this article.
With a Prosperous Wind
Photo: Fred Watsi
by Peter Arenstam Maritime Manager
vessel receives compensation from passengers, as it does that the vessel meets a certain level of safety standards.
“These troubles being blown over, and now all being compact together in one ship, they put to sea again with a prosperous wind…”
A detailed history of the work involved to transform Mayflower II from a “private yacht” to a passengercarrying vessel would consume this entire article, but the result is that we now work with the U.S. Coast Guard to assure the historic ship remains seaworthy and safe. Any plan to sail Mayflower II begins with a bi-annual haul-out inspection during the winter season. In a shipyard, Mayflower II is floated between the uprights of a submerged flatbed carriage. When secure, the ship and the carriage are winched up a set of tracks onto dry ground, making the entire hull accessible for inspection and repairs.
I am reminded of this quotation from Bradford’s chronicle Of Plymouth Plantation, whenever it is time to prepare Mayflower II for a sailing adventure. To be sure, in these modern times, Mayflower II is not headed out on a “vast and furious ocean,” but even across four centuries the similarities to the scope of preparations and the funds required to get underway are remarkable.
The inspection identifies areas of the ship, whether hull, spars, rigging or systems that need repair or upgrade. Usually work is completed during the haul-out, yet occasionally the Coast Guard allows us to complete repairs after returning to Plymouth. All work must be done to the inspector’s satisfaction before we are allowed to sail. However, this is not the end of the inspection process.
o Governor William Bradford relates the start of Mayflower’s voyage across the ocean in September 1620. The “troubles” included volatile contract negotiations with the Merchant Adventurers, the costly problems of the leaky ship Speedwell that was intended to accompany Mayflower, and the sale of provisions (some 3,000 – 4,000 pounds of salted butter) to settle their accounts and be free to leave the harbor.
The English-built Mayflower II sailed for America in the spring of 1957. Under British maritime regulations in the 1950s, the reproduction ship was classified as a private yacht. In 1964, Mayflower II sailed round-trip to Provincetown, and then did not sail again for 25 years. In the 54 years that the ship has been berthed at Plymouth State Pier she has sailed thirteen times. It has only been since 1995 that the ship has been certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry “passengers for hire,” a legal term referring as much to the fact that the owner of the
With the ship back in Plymouth for the Museum’s open season, several activities begin simultaneously, and all must be completed well prior to sailing. The ship must be painted, the rigging tarred, the masts scraped and oiled, and the decks cleaned and caulked. These items are important for the health of the vessel as well as for their aesthetic value. Preparations for getting Mayflower II underway begin in the winter season and continue up to the day of the sail.
A complex network of rigging remarkable for its simple utility.
Another key item to complete is the bending on of sails. “Bending” sails is a sailor’s way of saying attaching the sails and their associated rigging to the yards of the ship. Mayflower II has six linen canvas sails, all hand sewn by the Maritime Artisans. The largest is the main course measuring 48’ x 34’ and the smallest is the spritsail at 25.5’ x18’. Taken together the six sails amount to just under 5,000 square feet of canvas. Each sail is attached to its yard with robands (braided rope), and controlled by a network of rigging, at first puzzling to the eye but remarkable in its simple utility. A list of lines we must rig will suffice to illustrate the work required for bending the sails. The square sails have: clews, bunts, leeches, bowlines, sheets, tacks, lifts, braces, gaskets, and a halyard.
program covering aspects of sail handling, steering and response to emergency situations. The Coast Guard comes to the ship a few weeks prior to the sail. They inspect safety equipment and watch our crew execute emergency drills.
When underway a knowledgeable crew of 26 tends the sails. At least half of that number is made up of community volunteers; the rest are Plimoth Plantation staff. All crew undergo an eight to ten session training
Built to the highest standards of historic reproduction, Mayflower II does not have an auxiliary engine. Without an engine, the ship must use a tugboat to get in and out of Plymouth harbor. For years we have hired Jaguar,
During the period of sail training, along with the maintenance mentioned above, we must overhaul and install the equipment needed for sailing, including the marine VHF radio and antenna, life rafts, man-overboard life rings, compasses and even the marine toilet facilities required by the Coast Guard. Mayflower II slowly transforms from a simulated 17th-century vessel to an authentic modern ship capable of carrying up to 49 passengers on the coastal waters of New England.
A volunteer crew spends 10 weeks prior to a sail learning the ropes.
Photo: Fred Watsi Mayflower II is escorted to sea by a flotilla of support vessels.
out of Fairhaven, Massachusetts and coordinate our trip with the skipper Charlie Mitchell. The Coast Guard requires another certified passengercarrying vessel to be with Mayflower II when she sails. Usually a local vessel is available for hire. Plymouth’s harbormaster, Coast Guard auxiliary boats, photography boats, sightseeing boats and local boating groups interested with our sailing schedule require coordination.
lines. Passengers are aboard and excitedly snapping photos of the departure. A flotilla of spectator boats, our own support craft and law enforcement boats are out in the channel ready to follow us to sea. The tugboat comes alongside, hooks up the towline, and gently pulls the ship free of her berth. Mayflower II is underway for a few precious hours.
“Mayflower II slowly transforms from a simulated 17th-century vessel to an authentic modern ship capable of carrying up to 49 passengers on the coastal waters of New England.”.
All too soon we retrace our course, and as William Bradford relates of the 1620 voyage, we “being thus arrived in a good harbor,” are joyful for our safe return.
A range of educational programs must be planned for the onboard ship experience as well as for guests visiting the State Pier exhibit while Mayflower II is away from her berth. Mayflower II sails provide documentary filmmakers and photographers with the rare chance to capture images evocative of the 17th-century crossing. They are complicated shoots. The illustrations for my book Mayflower 1620: A New Look at a Pilgrim Voyage were taken during the 2003 sail to Boston’s Rowes Wharf. Plimoth Plantation works tirelessly to make sure that Mayflower II passengers are an eclectic mix of cultural figures such as Mayflower author Nathaniel Philbrick and the late Reverend Professor Gomes, Museum supporters, journalists, local and state officials, youth groups and educators. We want to give each person an unforgettable experience.
Sailing Mayflower II has many benefits for Plimoth Plantation. The passengers and crew aboard the ship are the most direct beneficiaries of the voyage. The opportunity to experience sailing a 17th-century vessel is rare indeed. Plimoth Plantation receives a great deal of press and media attention any time our ship heads to sea. The ship itself benefits from the increased maintenance and repair required to keep her safe enough to sail. But our town, our region and our Nation benefit as well. With the year 2020 fast approaching, the eyes of the world will focus on Plymouth and Mayflower II. Each time we sail our ship we are taking the steps necessary to assure she will be at the peak of her beauty and physical condition so that when the 400th anniversary rolls around we will proudly see the very symbol of the founding of a nation leading a flotilla once again to sea in a grand celebration.a
At long last the day for sailing arrives. The ship shines with a fresh coat of paint. The sails and rigging are in top shape. The crew is prepared and eager to cast off
The Three R’s of Indian Country: Relationships, Reciprocity & Respect by J. Cedric Woods
hen I look at Plimoth Plantation, and particularly the Museum’s
educational programs on Wampanoag and other indigenous peoples, I think about an article by Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham, Administrator of the Division of History and Culture for the Chickasaw Nation. In her article, Dr. Cobb-Greetham describes the National Museum of the American Indian as an exercise in cultural sovereignty. It is an expression by Native people about who and what Native people are and what we have survived. At Plimoth Plantation, I specifically think of the reclamation of the material culture of the Wampanoag People. I also think how, like at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, there is a great opportunity, and responsibility, to help frame how indigenous people are perceived. Guest perceptions of Native people may start at Plimoth Plantation, and may continue for a lifetime. Two examples make my point. . .
President Nixon meets with leaders of the Taos Pueblo in 1970. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.
eginning in the 1950s under the Eisenhower administration, the formal direction of the United States Government’s Indian policy shifted from the Indian New Deal, or Indian Reorganization Act, to the assimilation of tribes and their political dismemberment. This was done through the policy of termination. Under the policy of termination, the Federal government severed political ties with more than 50 tribes, which left them to the whims of their various states.
Nixon’s desire to assist Native people was directly linked to his personal admiration of his football coach at Whittier College. His coach was a Native Californian, and Nixon never forgot his support and encouragement, even though he was a mediocre football player at best.
Termination would be part of United States Indian policy until it was formally denounced in 1970 by President Richard M. Nixon. Ending termination was not to be the pinnacle of his efforts on behalf of tribes but the beginning of these efforts. It was the first step. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, developed and advanced by the Nixon administration, identified tribal governments as viable, valued partners for Federal agencies, and set up a host of Federal programs targeted to benefit tribes. The Act also set the stage for subsequent legislation such as the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Indian Religious Freedom Act. During this same policy era, Pyramid Lake was restored to the Pyramid Lake Band of Paiutes. This legislation has been of great benefit to Indian people. When
we discuss tribal political sovereignty today, we still use the language of self-determination. While I know that nearly every Native person has heard of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 and its generally positive impact on Native peoples, many may not know its origins outside the political arena. Yes, tribal organizations and individual tribes had been advocating for better treatment for decades prior to this Act. And yes, protest movements like the American Indian Movement brought greater public awareness of conditions on Indian reservations, but these things were not what influenced Nixon’s policy. It wasn’t any romantic notion he had of Native people based 11
Silver Star, Atwood I. Williams, early 20th-century Pequot leader. Courtesy of Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum, www.indianmuseum.org
create and dedicate a museum to Native people. This decision was driven by a presentation by “Silver Star”, or Atwood Williams, a Sachem of the Western and Eastern Pequots. Silver Star gave a presentation at Bud’s school about Indians and this one presentation shaped the rest of Bud’s life. His museum is dedicated to the memory of Silver Star. I know many of the grandchildren and great grandchildren of Silver Star, many of whom have visited Mt. Kearsarge and were greatly moved by what they saw. As a result of their visit, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Elders Council made a substantial donation to Mt. Kearsarge in honor of Silver Star and to support the mission of the museum.
on Disney cartoons or the Lone Ranger and Tonto, nor was it due to courses he took in college, as the Native Studies movement was decades after his college days. Instead, Nixon’s desire to assist Native people was directly linked to his personal admiration of his football coach at Whittier College. His coach was a Native Californian, and Nixon never forgot his support and encouragement, even though he was a mediocre football player at best. That positive interaction set the stage for what, in retrospect, was one of the best periods in Federal Indian policy and positively benefited Native people across the United States. A second example comes from the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner, New Hampshire, in operation now for more than 20 years. It hosts an annual pow wow, recently hired a Native executive director, and is a great Native focused museum with an emphasis on New England Natives. How did this museum, in what one might think of as the middle of nowhere, come to be, and to provide such an important educational service to the people of New Hampshire? The founder of the Mt. Kearsarge Museum is Bud Thompson, originally from Rhode Island. As a young child, Thompson decided he would
In both of these stories, the Native people who made an impact on the mediocre college athlete who would become President, and the little non-Native boy who would start a museum, carried with them the “three R’s of Indian Country.” These three R’s are Relationships, Reciprocity, and Respect. The football coach developed a relationship with his team and showed them respect, while challenging them to work hard and be the best they could be. He exercised reciprocity by celebrating their victories. Nixon would 12
take these lessons forward and when in a position to do so, exercise respect for Native beliefs by the return of Pyramid Lake to the tribe who viewed it as a sacred place. The Paiutes were so appreciative they renamed their capital â€œNixon.â€? Nixon showed respect when he stopped the policy of termination, which broke treaties and other agreements with tribes. He showed respect for Native peoples when he pushed for and ultimately won the passage of legislation which recognized our inherent right to determine our lives.
The moral of these stories is that we never know who we are talking with, or who or what they will become. We all can, and should, make a positive contribution to the world in which we live. A positive impression or impact will affect not just you but Native people everywhere. Unfortunately, the same can be said of a negative impact or impression. Think of what would have happened if Nixon had encountered a bitter, angry coach that despised his players. Nixon would not have had positive Native role models, and this influence on his Indian policy would not have existed. Indian Country would be a more desperate place if the policy of termination had continued and there had been no Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. If there were no Silver Star encouraging children to live up to their potential and make a contribution to the world we share, there would be thousands more children knowing nothing positive about Native peoples. At Plimoth Plantation there is a responsibility and opportunity to shape how nearly 400,000 guests a year will perceive and respond to Native people. One of these may very well be the next President or museum founder. What they learn from Plimoth, good or ill, may shape all of our collective futures. a
Bud Thompson, while only having met Silver Star once, took those lessons with him for the rest of his life. Bud learned from Silver Star that to be a human being, he had a responsibility to make a positive difference in the world. This responsibility was based on the concept of reciprocityâ€”we are given life and we are expected to give back. This belief in having the power to give back is based on the belief of respect for the individual. Bud also understood the responsibility of relationships, which Silver Star demonstrated by his willingness to go out and teach what he knew of his people to Natives and non-Natives alike. Bud has worked hard to continue to develop ongoing relationships with the Native people of the region. Strawberry Thanksgiving provides our guests an opportunity to see and hear Wampanoag traditional singing and dancing. Feasting, games and mishoon races are also part of the festivities.
J. Cedric Woods is Director of the Institute for New England Native American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a Trustee of Plimoth Plantation.
An Interview with
n September, Deputy Director Richard Pickering visited with Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize-winning historian, author and professor Bernard Bailyn. The Adams University Professor and James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History, emeritus, at Harvard University. Dr. Bailynâ€™s teaching, publications and seminars on the Atlantic World have transformed the practice of history internationally. His seminal publications include The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1968), Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution (1986) and Atlantic History: Concepts and Contours (2005). Professor Bailyn received the National Humanities Medal in 2010.
Ships Under Repair, after a painting by Reinier Nooms (Zeeman) (c1623-c1667). Plimoth Plantation Collections. Maritime exploration and trade set in motion the complex forces that shaped the Atlantic World. In this engraving, two merchant ships are at the dock being repaired, with the ship at the center careened to scrape its hull.
Title page of The Voyage of Jan van Linschoten to Portuguese East India, 1596, engraved by Lambert Cornelisz (1563-1621). Plimoth Plantation Collections.
Their governor, William Bradford, embraced this idea fervently, and I find his story most moving. At the end of the 1620s, the community came under great pressure. The people refused to stay in the town of Plymouth. A group went to Cape Cod. Others went inland. The community scattered, and there was evidence of sinful behavior, which Bradford couldn’t understand. He tried everything in order to grasp what was happening to his little world—that world of pious folks who wanted to live alone, a godly Christian life, following the Scriptures, without high theology or ornamentation.
rofessor Bailyn, as you know, today fewer American historians are building their careers around the study of 17th-century New England. It affects our Museum and the public’s understanding of the American experience. At Plimoth Plantation, we want to rekindle interest in the period among emerging scholars. In your opinion, what is the importance of the Pilgrim experience in American History? I see the Pilgrims in a European context. They are one among dozens of pious groups from England who end up in the Netherlands or America. The Pilgrims wanted to live a Christian life, alone, without contamination, but they were not theologians like the Puritan leaders. They were not scholars. They were ordinary people. Only one or two of them were highly educated. They were part of a larger movement of religious groups leaving England, and they are distinctive because, for a few years, they succeeded in building a Christian community in America.
Throughout his writings, he expresses deep feelings of betrayal and anguish at the dissolution of the community he had built. There’s a point I have always found poignant, where at the end [of a letter included in Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation], he turns the page and writes a lamentation —remembering the early pledges of solidarity, the bonds that once brought them all together and have now faded. 15
Bradford’ s Lamentation
sacred bond, whilst inviolably preserved! How sweet and precious were the fruits that flowed from the same! But when this fidelity decayed, then their ruin approached. O that these ancient members had not died or been dissipated (if it had been the will of God) or else that this holy care and constant faithfulness had still lived, and remained with those that survived, and were in times afterwards added unto them. But (alas) that subtle serpent hath slyly wound in himself under fair pretenses of necessity and the like to untwist these sacred bonds and ties, and as it were insensibly by degrees to dissolve, or in a great measure weaken the same. I have been happy, in my first times, to see, and with much comfort enjoy, the blessed fruits of this first sweet communion, but it is now a part of my misery in old age, to find and feel the decay and want thereof (in a great measure) and with grief and sorrow of heart to lament and bewail the same. And for others —warning and admonition, and my own humiliation, do I here note the same.” When reviewing his Of Plymouth Plantation manuscript, an aged William Bradford wrote this lamentation on the blank page facing his transcription of a letter dated December 15, 1617. In this letter, written thirty or forty years earlier, Reverend John Robinson and Elder William Brewster tell potential backers of the Pilgrims’ colony:
e are knit together as a body in a most strict and sacred bond and covenant of the Lord, of the violation whereof we make great conscience, and by virtue whereof we do hold ourselves straitly tied to all care of each other’s good and of the whole, by every one and so mutually.”
William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, ed. Samuel Eliot Morison (New York: Knopf, 2006), 33.
He tried in every way to express his feelings. He wrote poetry. It’s not much by the way of poetry, but nevertheless he’s trying to grapple with intense feelings. At the end of his life, he also wrote a series of Dialogues—imagined conversations between the First Comers and the new generation —which to me are the most moving products of the Plymouth Colony experience. He asks, “What good did the founding of Plymouth Colony do? What happened and why should the next generation care?” That’s our entry into the story. Later generations should care because the First Comers were simple, religious people who wanted a true Christian life. And Bradford, in the end, memorializes the venture as he comes to terms with the fate of his community. It’s the story of a pious people who wanted a perfect life and tried and couldn’t ultimately succeed, but for a time, experienced it.
you explain what Atlantic World Studies are and how have they transformed our understanding of history? That’s a very important question. I think, in some ways, people have always thought of the North American situation as part of a broader Atlantic world, but now we are realizing how important it is. If you include West Africa, Western Europe, Latin America and North America, there are problems that come together in ways you wouldn’t ordinarily consider. Slavery, for example, was common throughout the early modern Atlantic world, yet it was different in Latin America from what it was in North America. One must ask, “Why was it different, and what were the distinctive characteristics that made it so?” There are latent structures that underlie the entire Atlantic World, of which our North American experiences are just one part, and to be able to interpret a particular interest within that larger context is important. People are now thinking broadly about the Atlantic experience—whether they are historians of North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, West Africa or Europe.
In view of Plymouth Colony’s broader connections to England, other European countries and even the Pilgrims’ financial losses to West African pirates, could 16
Hand-colored map of England and Wales published in a Dutch atlas by Ortelius in 1573. Plimoth Plantation Collections.
history becomes more important. Although the Atlantic has always had global contacts, they were more marginal until the 19th century.
What is the time frame of the Atlantic World? I think of it this way. Between 1500 and 1825, there were three fundamental elements distinctive to the Atlantic World. The first is the transatlantic slave trade, which after the early 19th century, begins to slow, because of restrictions on it. Secondly, at the same time the slave trade is being restricted, the colonies of European empires in North America and Latin America break into national states, and once that happens, the world is very different. And finally, the economic development in this period is distinctive. It was commercial but became industrial. The Industrial Revolution, which transforms so much of the world, comes in the early 19th century. At the same time, western European states become more involved in Asia.
With the pressures of standardized tests for language arts, math and sciences, primary and secondary schools are devoting less time to social studies than ever before. Few, if any, states test for student competency in American History. Why is history important? It’s a form of sanity. If you had no personal memory you would have no sense of your world. And similarly, if we have no public awareness we’ve lost our understanding of how we got to be the way we are, and hence our understanding of who we are. History gives us context, so we know where we’ve been and can see where we might go. History is our way of finding out where we are in the continuum of human experience. And it’s just a way of finding the real qualities of the present, because today incorporates the past and you have to know it. The more you know about it, the better. a
Until about the 1820s or 1830s these fundamental elements—the slave trade, the colonialism of the hemisphere, and the commercial aspects of the economy—are distinctive. After that, global 17
The Hornblower Award An Evening of Celebration presented by Plimoth Plantation to honor the 1957 Mayflower II Crew
limoth Plantation recently celebrated its founder, Henry ‘Harry’ Hornblower II, with a gala evening and presentation of the Hornblower Award. On Saturday, November 5th, (Harry’s birthday) the award was presented to the 1957 Crew of Mayflower II for making an outstanding contribution to Plimoth Plantation that reflects the spirit of Harry Hornblower. Just as Harry Hornblower gave of himself, his time and his love of scholarship to further the Museum’s highest ideals, so the ’57 crew gave generously of themselves and made a contribution of enduring significance to the Museum.
who have followed them. In no small part the ‘57 Crew inspired the Plimoth Plantation of today to pursue historical accuracy diligently and deliver powerful interpretations through our living history program. Dr. Christopher Pyle was the guest speaker and he shared fond recollections of Harry Hornblower with the audience. Chris was graduating from Plymouth High School the day that Mayflower II arrived in Plymouth Harbor. Two members of the ’57 Crew, David Thorpe and Joe Meany, were here to accept the award on behalf of the entire Crew. Both men gave very moving (and humorous!) remarks about their experience in helping to sail the ship across the Atlantic.
In 1957, after giving up jobs and leaving loved ones behind in exchange for an uncertain and dangerous voyage on a 17th-century vessel, the ’57 Crew demonstrated a commitment to historic integrity that is second to none. These men not only shared Harry Hornblower’s vision of Living History, they truly risked their lives, and they gave gladly, bravely, and generously of the blood, sweat, and tears needed to sail an early 17th-century bark across the Atlantic. Their voyage serves as a continuing inspiration for the generations of historical interpreters
As we approach the 60th anniversary of Mayflower II and the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the original ship, it was a fitting tribute, though arguably a bit overdue, that we honor these gallant men with the Hornblower Award. Their dedication and enthusiasm inspire us all. Their story will always live here in the hearts and minds of the many people who love and admire them. We gratefully and enthusiastically doff our hats to the ’57 Crew!
Left: Joe Meany, the American cabin boy, and David Thorpe, English crew member, who accepted the Hornblower Award on behalf of the entire 1957 Mayflower II crew. Birthday cake in Harry’s honor.
Photos taken during the 1957 crossing courtesy of Lee Israel, Life Magazine photographer, who was onboard Mayflower II. Captai
t Joe Me
g a lin
House with Three Fires T
here is an impressive new house or wetu being built at the Wampanoag Homesite. Called a nushwetu in the Wampanoag language or “house with three fires,” the round-ended, bark-covered house is now the largest reproduction Native dwelling in New England. With its three hearths for heating and for cooking during inclement weather, the nushwetu is one of the warmest and most durable of traditional indigenous structures. Historically, a nushwetu sheltered multi-generational families.
Program, whether searching near or far, today it is challenging to find a sufficient supply of large sheets of bark to cover a 20’ by 40’ structure. “Fortunately, for ten years, Plimoth has had an established relationship with a lumber mill in Maryland,” says Coombs. “The Museum’s Native staff harvested and delivered the 8,000 square feet of Tulip Poplar bark that the nushwetu required.”
Throughout southern New England, 17th-century Native housing typically featured a fire pit or hearth for every ten feet of structural length. These regularly spaced fire pits ensured even heating throughout the house. Even in the depths of winter, a Wampanoag home could maintain temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the past, bark came from local chestnuts and elms. Sheets were harvested in the early spring when tree sap was flowing and the bark easily separated from the trunk. Fire was the traditional Native tool used to fell a tree selected for peeling. A band of clay was wrapped around the trunk and a controlled fire encircled the base of the chestnut or elm. The clay prevented the fire from burning the body of the tree. Once felled, the Natives used tools, such as moose antler wedges, to peel the bark. The new house will accommodate up to 40 Museum guests and is expected to last about ten years. a
Four centuries of environmental change have complicated the Museum’s efforts to re-create historic Wampanoag homes. In the past, indigenous peoples conveniently found their construction materials in local woods, grasslands and wetlands. While framed with cedar saplings gathered near Plimoth Plantation, the new nushwetu is covered in bark from the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland. According to Darius Coombs, the Associate Director of the Wampanoag Indigenous 20
a proud day
Joel Iacoomes, attended the ceremony. “It was very humbling, because it had been so many years in the making,” said Darius. “Most of the Coombs family was there and will never forget this historic moment.”
Last May, when Harvard president Drew Faust presented Joel Iacoomes with a posthumous degree during the university’s 360th Commencement, it was an event with deep connections to the Plimoth Plantation community. John P. Reardon (Executive Director of the Harvard Alumni Association and Associate Vice President for University Relations) is married to Museum Trustee Jane Reardon. Mr. Reardon was one of the earliest, strongest and most persistent voices for honoring Iacoomes’ extraordinary achievement. Darius Coombs, the Museum’s Associate Director of the Wampanoag Indigenous Program, who is related to
Shortly after she moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 2006, the Iacoomes and Cheeshahteaumuck story captured the imagination of journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Geraldine Brooks. Joel Iacoomes’ poignant life is one of the sources for her critically acclaimed novel Caleb’s Crossing (Viking Adult, 2011). Brooks, a friend of Plimoth Plantation, said “The scant sources from the period unanimously suggest that Joel Iacoomes was a remarkable intellect who stood out amid the distinguished company with whom he and his fellow Wampanoag Caleb studied—all highly educated sons of the Massachusetts Bay Colony elite. His tragic death, on his way to the graduation, robbed him of a chance to stand beside Caleb Cheeshaheaumuck at the 1665 commencement.” Speaking of the Harvard event, Brooks commented, “I was so glad to be at this year’s commencement with members of the Wampanoag Tribe to see his struggle, his sacrifice and his achievement finally recognized.” a
oel Iacoomes was a gifted Wampanoag student from Aquinnah who attended the Harvard Indian College in the mid-17th century. The school was founded in 1655, roughly 20 years after Harvard College’s original charter, and provided Native students with tuition and housing. After completing four years of study, Iacoomes died in a shipwreck before receiving the degree he had earned. His fellow classmate Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, who was also Aquinnah Wampanoag, became the first Native person to graduate from Harvard when he received his diploma in 1665.
CommeMorating the Pilgrims in Plymouth Style by Dr. Karin Goldstein Curator of Collections and Library
Staffordshire Landing of the Pilgrims dishes circa 1820. Left: Cover of the 1921 Plymouth Tercentenary Pageant program. Plimoth Plantation Collections.
eople have been commemorating the arrival of the Pilgrims for more than two centuries. As the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ Landing approaches in 2020, it is interesting to look at how people have observed the major anniversaries in the last 200 years. From commemorative plates to lapel buttons, a wide range of souvenirs document how people of the time perceived the Colonists and Wampanoag and also how the nature of historic celebrations has changed.
local young gentlemen established the Old Colony Club, as an alternative to “the many disadvantages and inconveniences that arise from intermixing with the company at the taverns….” They began the tradition of honoring the colonists by celebrating Forefathers Day, the anniversary of the December day when the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth Harbor. Events included firing cannon, hoisting the club’s flag and eating an historically inspired dinner. The tradition continued the next year, the 150th anniversary of the Landing, and is still observed by the Old Colony Club today.
If Plymouth observed the 100th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ Landing, it hasn’t been recorded. Celebrating the Pilgrims’ arrival began in 1769, when a group of
The 200th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival was enthusiastically celebrated. The region’s maritime economy was 23
n 1921, the 300th Anniversary celebration included twelve performances of The Pilgrim Spirit, a pageant written and produced by Harvard professor George Pierce Baker, a leading figure in the birth of modern American drama. His undergraduate playwriting program “47 workshop” trained writers Thomas Wolfe, Oscar-winner Sidney Howard, George Abbott and Nobel Prize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill. The cast of 400 included Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury and Marshfield residents wearing more than 1,200 costumes designed by Broadway actor and costumer Rollo Peters. In his introduction to the extravaganza, Baker said, “The Pageant Master takes this opportunity to express his deep appreciation of the entire cooperation in his plans, general and detailed by the composers and poets who have collaborated in the Pageant. They have enriched and ennobled his spare text.” These enriching and ennobling writers included Robert Frost, Edward Arlington Robinson and classical composer Arthur Foote. Four years after producing The Pilgrim Spirit, George Pierce Baker left Cambridge for New Haven where he was one of the founders of the Yale School of Drama. George Pierce Baker
Plymouth merchants Thomas Davis and William S. Russell imported large plates and two sizes of pitchers from the pottery manufacturer Enoch Wood and Sons of Burslem, Staffordshire. The plates were a hit, and those used at the dinner were sold as souvenirs of the event. Davis and Russell continued to import Pilgrims Landing plates and pitchers in other sizes. Enoch Wood and Sons remained in business making blue and white plates until 1846.
recovering from the War of 1812, and the town was growing. Plymouth County built a new Courthouse north of Town Square to replace the Courthouse of 1749. The newly established Pilgrim Society celebrated Forefathers Day with a speech by the eloquent Massachusetts senator, Daniel Webster. Visitors converged on the town’s inns and taverns, and hundreds of people packed First Parish Church for Webster’s two-hour oration. After the speech, the crowd gathered for a formal dinner in the new Courthouse.
The center of the circa 1805 plate features a fanciful scene of the Pilgrims’ landing, inspired by the work of Salem artist Michele Felice Corné (c. 1752-1845). With the Mayflower in the background, the Pilgrims row their shallop toward the rocky shore and are met by two Natives. On the rock below is written “Carver, Bradford, Winslow, Brewster & Standish.” The Landing of the Fathers represented one of the significant events of America’s founding. The two-hundred-year-old event is connected to more recent American history by cartouches along the plate’s border linking the Pilgrims to the heroes of the American Revolution.
The celebratory dinner marked the debut of one of the earliest Pilgrim souvenirs, blue and white plates depicting the landing at Plymouth Rock. Blue and white transfer-printed dishes with historic American scenes were all the rage. Entire sets with plates, bowls, pitchers and tureens were made in England specifically for the export market. Patriotic scenes of Revolutionary-era notables like Benjamin Franklin and the Marquis de Lafayette appealed to Americans, as they looked for a past for their new country. President Harding and his family preside at the The Pilgrim Spirit Tercentenary Pageant. He arrived on the yacht Mayflower on August 1, 1921.
One century later, the United States was undergoing dramatic population change. Immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe flooded already crowded cities, and for Americans of Anglo-Saxon descent, the Pilgrims came to represent the ideals of purity, piety and patriotism that they wanted to inculcate in the foreign newcomers. Interest in the Pilgrims was so widespread that the planners for the 1920 and 1921 commemoration chose to expand the celebration beyond Forefathers Day. By the dawn of the Jazz Age, two-hour orations were no longer in fashion. One of the new ways to commemorate an historic event was to hold a pageant—an elaborate, scripted spectacle with huge casts and eye-catching costumes. They were also intended to educate nativeborn residents, recent immigrants and tourists alike. The Pilgrim Spirit by George P. Baker reenacted the Pilgrim Story enlivened with episodes depicting earlier visitors to Plymouth like the Norsemen and Samuel de Champlain. Performances were held at the “new State Reservation beside Plymouth Rock.”
n the Museum’s collections there are several “Indian” costumes from The Pilgrim Spirit. The costumes were influenced by the theatrical look of Wild West Shows, which were popular entertainments that toured the United States and Europe between the 1880s and the First World War. Harding Uniform and Regalia of Boston constructed the two-piece outfits, which consisted of tan flannel pants and tunics trimmed with fringe and blue or red ribbon. The beads seen on the jacket above were worn by Plymouth resident Harry Nickerson when he played Massasoit. The jacket was purchased at a yard sale in the 1980s.
“What impresses me most of all about the pageant apart from the sheer beauty of the spectacle and the artistry with which it was presented, was the fine manner in which the spiritual significance of this tercentenary celebration was brought out.” —President Warren G. Harding Plymouth’s pageant demonstrates how Americans continued to revere the Pilgrims as founders of the nation, and how reenacting their story could be used in the Americanization of recent immigrants. The pageant’s major parts—John and Priscilla Alden, King James, William Brewster to name a few—were reserved for old-stock Plymoutheans. Immigrants from a wide array of countries including Italy and Portugal participated in crowd scenes. While a few Native Americans from several nations took part, non-Natives played the role of “Indians” in The Pilgrim Spirit.
In nine years, we will commemorate the 400th anniversary of Mayflower’s landing. Wampanoag history and indigenous voices will play a much more influential role in 2020 than they did in earlier centennials. Because of the fame of Mayflower’s 1620 crossing, 2020 provides the Museum with the chance to offer global audiences a new perspective on the Pilgrims and the Native People. With new technologies who knows what the souvenirs and entertainments of the upcoming event will be? s
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“…as why are Strawberries sweet and Cranberries sowre, there is no reason but the wonderfull worke of God that made them so… —John Eliot, 1647
Cranberry Tart F
en grapes, marish worts, mosse-berries, moore- berries, fenberries, bearberries, cramberries. Although they’ve been called by many names, cranberries, especially in sauce form, have long been part of the traditional holiday table. Their usefulness, however, goes far beyond sauce. by Kathleen Wall Colonial Foodways Culinarian
he cranberry was unfamiliar to the Pilgrims when they arrived in America. By the end of the 17th century, however, the fruit was well known in New England. In his 1672 work, New England’s Rarities, John Josselyn observed that “some make Tarts with them as with Goose Berries.” With something tart like a cranberry or gooseberry, you’ll want to use a rich pastry, like this one.
The Colonists were familiar with gooseberries in England. Although gooseberries also grew in New England, American varieties were not as large nor as sweet. Many colonial housewives substituted native cranberries in their cooking. Cranberry tarts and pies remained a part of the New England table through the 19th century. I find them to be a refreshing end to a hearty turkey dinner.
historic recipe for pastry “…ye take a quart of fine flower, & put ye rest of ye butter to it in little bits, with 4 or 5 spoonfulls of faire water, make ye paste of it & when it is well mingled beat it on a table & soe roule it out.” —Martha Washington’s Book of Cookery
historic recipe for GOOSEBERRIE TARTS Take a pint of Gooseberries, and put them into a quarter of a pound of Sugar, and two spoonfuls of water, and put them on the fire, and stir them as you did the former. —Elizabeth Grey, A True Gentlewomans Delight, (1653)
modern recipe for PASTRY: 2 cups all purpose flour 6 ounces (1½ sticks) butter ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar 6 tablespoons cold water
traditional CRANBERRY TART FILLING: 1 bag of cranberries (12 oz.) ¾ cup sugar 1 or 2 tablespoons water Add water and sugar to cranberries in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir frequently. When the berries are mostly popped and the sauce is thick, remove from heat. Let cool. This is a traditional sauce recipe.
Mix flour with salt and sugar. Work butter in until it’s crumbly. Add water and mix and mash until it holds together. Add a little more water if it’s not holding together, but not too much. When it forms into a big ball, divide into two parts. Shape into two disks, cover with plastic wrap or put into a plastic bag so the pastry doesn’t dry out. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes, up to overnight. This makes enough for two pastry shells. If you’re making one tart, you can freeze the other half up to two months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
ASSEMBLY: Roll out half the pastry to line a 9 inch pie pan. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and bake in a 375° oven for 7-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool slightly. Scrape cranberry into baked pie shell and smooth over the top. Bake in a 350° oven for 15-20 minutes or until firm. Cool completely before serving. Makes one 9 inch tart. 27
Dressed to Till Pilgrim Clothing as an Expression of Body & Mind by Denise Lebica Historical Clothing & Textiles Manager with Kate LaPrad
From Denise Lebica’s remarks at the seminar A Reconstructed Visitable Past: Re-Created Period Attire, Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia, March 18, 2011.
n staff training for the Colonial role players, I often use an example from my own life. When coming home in my work clothes, I put on an apron to make dinner. Usually I’ve forgotten an ingredient, so I take my apron off and put on my coat to go to the market. Upon returning , the coat comes off and the apron goes back on. In the modern cultural attitude of sweatshirts and pajama bottoms for every occasion, my story helps our role players understand the importance of clothing and its appropriateness for each occasion.
“She ought to clothe them outwardly and inwardly, outwardly for defence from the cold and comeliness to the person, and inwardly for cleanliness and neatness of the skin, whereby it may be kept from filth of sweat or vermin.”
—Gervase Markham, The English Housewife (1615)
ndividual appearance silently expresses the spirit of an age. At Plimoth Plantation, accurate reproduction Colonial clothing is central to the guest experience, providing insight into the material culture of the past and completing the role players’ physical representation of the Pilgrims. Historians have long agreed that the Pilgrims’ business agents and provisioners likely purchased standard, one-size-fits-all inexpensive clothing from workshops clustered along streets such as London’s Birchin Lane. For years the Museum represented these bulk purchases by dressing the Colonial role players in similar costumes with character interpreters donning the same hats, waistcoasts and doublets regardless of class or work life. Role players dressed in the morning and remained in the same clothes no matter their day’s shifting duties —whether gutting fish, knitting, tending crops, or milking cows. While Plimoth Plantation agrees that much of the Pilgrims’ ready-made clothing was purchased in bulk from Birchin Lane’s high production tailors, the Museum’s recent research suggests the need for more variety in clothing that is specific to tasks, occupations and the subtle class distinctions represented in the 17th-Century English Village—in particular the additions of protective accessories that emphasize the value of textiles in the 1600s. The Value of textiles & Clothing in the 17th Century Clothing was a valuable commodity. According to the Trelawney Papers, the business accounts of a fishery established on Richmond Island, Maine in the 1630s, twelve shirts cost £2.12. Fishermen’s shares in the profits were worth about £5 per year; three shirts would cost them roughly a month’s pay. In 17th-century England, “a good wardrobe could be equivalent to a savings account.”1 Between 1620 and 1680, 27% of the larceny cases in Essex, England concerned items of clothing. Clothing was sold, pawned, stolen and inherited.
Above: A Colonial artisan wears a protective canvas smock. Left: A Colonial interpreter dressed for working in the corn field.
Elizabeth’s sumptuary laws and restricted importation of cloth and clothing to promote England’s domestic cloth production, yet a Massachusetts Bay Colony law of 1634 decreed that “no person, man or woman, shall hereafter make or buy any Apparel, either Woolen, or Silk, or Linen with any lace on it, silver, gold or thread under penalty of forfeiture of said clothes. Also that no person either man or woman shall make or buy any slashed clothes, other than one slash in each sleeve and
Despite the cost, dressing appropriately was a concern for most people. Elizabethan and Jacobean sumptuary laws defined correct dress for each social class. Under Queen Elizabeth (r. 1558-1603), clothing made of silk was restricted to all but those of rank higher than knight or earl. King James I (r. 1603-1625) rescinded many of
Beverly Lemire, “The Theft of Clothes and Popular Consumerism in Early Modern England,” Journal of Social History 24, no. 2 (Winter 1990): 270. 29
A role player portraying a Colonial housewife wears a linen hood.
another in the back.” 2 Investment in clothing was not only regulated by financial capacity, purchases could be influenced by ascetic religious sentiment and laws restricting access to sumptuous fabrics or flamboyant fashions based on the consumer’s class status.
closest to representing the physically challenging life that the Pilgrims faced. Dutch paintings offer examples of a variety of people, dressed to both social station and task, sharing a single canvas. In addition to primary sources, we also look at working life in 1627 Plymouth. Governor William Bradford wrote that the Separatists living in Leiden “were not acquainted with trades nor traffic…but had only been used to plain country life and the innocent trade of husbandry.” 4 Many who came to Plymouth were wool-combers, weavers, and fellmongers—fellmongers
scant sources for English Clothing Re-creating the dress of the middling class is challenging. Very little clothing worn by commoners survives, and period references are scarce. Everyday clothing was rarely saved or remarked upon. Seventeenth-century primary source documents such as wills, probate inventories, court records, letter and sermons, however, can provide small, yet revealing, details. The Provisions Needfull for Such as Intend to Plant Themselves in New England (1630), for example, lists handkerchiefs “which for the poorer sort may be of blew calico; these in summer they use for bands [neckerchers].”3 English woodcuts and Dutch genre paintings are also useful. Woodcuts of milkmaids and laborers come
Alice Earle Morse, Two Centuries of Costume in America,
1620-1820, Vol. 1 (New York: Dover Publications, 1970), 61. 3. Provisions
Needfull for Such as Intend to Plant Themselves in New England (London: Printed for Fulke Clifton, 1630). 4. William
Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, ed. Samuel Eliot Morison (New York: Knopf, 2006), 11. 30
Role players dressed appropriately for working in the fields. The woman has removed her waistcoat and wears only her canvas bodies (corset) and shift.
were dealers in hides or skins. Some were servants to a master. After seven years repaying their debt to England by fur trading, fishing and felling timber, what would appropriate dress be for these Pilgrims in a new world?
Subtle differences in neck and head wear such as neckerchers, headrails, falling bands and coifs provide class and occupation comparisons, and distinguish the servant from the housewife. The role player below portraying a servant wears a headrail and neckercher. An apron protects her skirt.
representing the value of clothing in the English Village Because of clothing’s value and scarcity in 17thcentury Plymouth, the role players’ use of protective accessories suitable to their work adds historic details. In the period, men and women of all classes wore aprons to protect breeches and petticoats. Guided by Hendrick Avercamp’s The Homecoming of the Duck Hunters (c. 1620), we introduced the workman’s smock pictured on page 29. Skoggers or cockers protected sleeves and stockings. They were either knit or made of canvas. With supplies arriving infrequently, clothing in Plymouth Colony was cared for, protected, darned and mended until it could no longer function as a garment. It could end its life as a useful rag. the deep meaning of my apron As my opening story illustrates, the social and financial aspects of 17th-century dress are directly opposite many of our modern sensibilities about personal presentation and garment care. Variety in period dress and its appropriateness to the task, however, is crucial to our interpretation of who the Colonists were, what they left behind and the tasks required by their environment and circumstance. When the value of 17th-century clothing is understood, individual choices made to protect precious garments are automatic. Historian James W. Baker said it best: “Getting the material culture right is not enough—what went on in their heads is as important as what went on them.” a 31
Malabar Hornblower Brewster
On why she has chosen to remember Plimoth Plantation in her estate plans.
hen I consider the future of my estate, family is my first priority. After family, I want to remember Plimoth Plantation.
It’s my way of giving back to the organization that gave me a wonderful husband,* many dear friends and countless happy memories, not to mention all it provides our community and our country through its living history presentations. a
It’s funny to be reflecting on inheritances, for Plimoth Plantation was in many respects, my inheritance. When I fell in love with and then married Harry Hornblower, Plimoth Plantation’s founder, I was captivated by his passion for the place. Plimoth was a major focus of our lives.
*Actually two wonderful husbands; I married fellow Plimoth Plantation Trustee, Bill Brewster, some years after Harry’s death in 1985.
Before long, Harry’s passion became my own, and I became a volunteer, a Trustee, and fervent supporter of Plimoth as it grew into the world-class Museum it is today.
No matter the size of your estate, you can have a lasting impact on the Museum when you remember Plimoth Plantation through a bequest, charitable remainder trust, charitable remainder uni-trust, or a gift of personal items of value such as property or fine art.
I don’t volunteer the way I once did, but Plimoth Plantation is still very important to me. That’s why I decided to make a bequest to Plimoth, so that it will have the resources to continue telling the important stories of early Americans long after I am gone.
Contact your attorney or financial planner for details, or call Susan Loucks, Plimoth Plantation’s Director of Development at (508) 746-1622, ext. 8226 to learn more. 32
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Opening Day 2012
oin us on Saturday, March 17, 2012 for the Opening Day of Plimoth Plantation’s 65th Season!
Come home to Plimoth Plantation when America’s favorite living Museum of 17th-century life opens for another unforgettable season. It’s the place where fun and learning go hand in hand. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and you can celebrate the start of our 65th season with a Farm Fresh Breakfast Buffet served from 8:30 to 10 am in the Hornblower Visitor Center’s Gainsborough Hall.
After breakfast, don’t let the Rare Breeds Animal Parade pass you by! Gather outside the Visitor Center at 10:30 am and join the procession of adorable baby lambs and goats as they make their happy return to the 17th-Century English Village. Our four-legged friends love your company. At 65 years old, many think about retirement, but Plimoth Plantation is only thinking about keeping the Pilgrim past and Wampanoag history alive for generations to come. Please join us! Scan me to see the Museum Events Calendar
The latest issue of Plimoth Life!