Revolution 250 Podcast

Politics and Fashion in the Revolution with Kimberly Alexander

June 27, 2023 Kimberly S. Alexander Season 4 Episode 26
Revolution 250 Podcast
Politics and Fashion in the Revolution with Kimberly Alexander
Show Notes Transcript

Protests against British policy involved more than angry speeches--Amricans changed what they wore and how they bought their clothes.  Kimberly Alexander from the University of New Hampshire tells us about how Americans began fashioning their own clothing.  In addition to two books on fashion:  Treasures Afoot:  Shoe Stories from the Georgian Era, and Fashioning the New England Family, which grew out of an exhibit at the Massachusetts Historical Society, Professor Alexander and her students have created the Flax Project,  growing flax and producing linen, as a way to experience  the fabric of 18th-century life. 

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 is a consortium of about 70 organizations in Massachusetts looking at ways to commemorate the beginnings of the American Revolution.
 
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 And our guest today is Kimberly Alexander, who is the director of museum studies and also a lecturer in history at the history department at the University of New Hampshire.
 
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 And you are the author of two really interesting, good books, Fashioning the New England Family, which comes out of an exhibit you co-authored
 
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 as well as Treasures of Foot, Shoe Stories from the Georgian Era.
 
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 Again, you really, I guess you do, I'm really bludgeoning your introduction.
 
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 You're dealing with material culture and what people wore and why it was important.
 
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 We know a lot of that is essential to the revolutionary period.
 
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 So Kimberly, thanks for joining us.
 
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 Well, thank you for having me.
 
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 I'm thrilled to be here with you today.
 
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 And hello, all of those of you who are listening in.
 
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 Yeah.
 
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 And so let's just start with fashion and what people wore, what not to wear.
 
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 I mean, it becomes a political issue, what people were wearing.
 
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 It absolutely does.
 
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 And I think one of the reasons I have liked and enjoyed working on this topic, it's actually been, I guess, I don't know, at least 15 years now or more, is because we can relate to that today.
 
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 You know, if you wear a red...
 
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 MAGA hat, if you wear a pink pussy hat, if you wear pride colors, what you're wearing says a lot about what you're thinking and what you represent.
 
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 So this is not something that's a new idea.
 
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 And I think in terms of relevance today, we can really understand that.
 
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 Even who you buy your clothes from, you know, if you're interested in sustainability or if you do or don't like the politics of a certain company.
 
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 These were the same things that the patriots and loyalists were grappling with going really back into the 1760s.
 
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 Pretty hardcore stuff going on.
 
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 Yeah, it becomes an issue.
 
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 I mean, Franklin talks about this.
 
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 session before the Parliament in 1766.
 
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 Yes.
 
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 Well, one of the wonderful things, being a Franklin fan myself, and you'll recall that Franklin wanted people to be developing their own textiles.
 
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 And Franklin and others were interested in silk and flax and wool.
 
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 Jefferson, obviously, the same with wool.
 
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 So the importance of fibers for self-sufficiency was long understood to be important.
 
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 But Franklin's role in the repeal of the Stamp Act, I spent a lot of time talking about that in my book.
 
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 in Treasures Afoot because one of the major industries that was exporting product to the colonies were the shoemakers out of London.
 
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 And in fact, there's one shoemaker in particular named John Hose in London, who was at Cheapside on Milk Street, who was selling thousands and thousands of pairs of shoes to American colonists.
 
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 And he is actually mentioned by name in the Newport Mercury in 1764 and 1765 as an example of the type of product
 
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 that American women should not be buying.
 
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 Really?
 
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 Why is that?
 
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 Because they were putting money in the coffers of British merchants and ultimately into the parliament instead of supporting their own neighbors.
 
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 And they say that in these ads.
 
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 The newspaper, so many of the examples that I'm going to share with you today come right out of the newspapers of the time.
 
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 And so these are the ads that were being run
 
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 the op-ed pieces, some signed, many not.
 
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 But so this particular author was telling women, and women actually end up playing a very important role.
 
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 They tend to be the target audience for a lot of the advertisements, and telling women to give up their fripperies, their gigas, those are the words used at the time, and don't support Mr. Ho's.
 
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 and his cadre of apprentices when you can support the locally made shoes of Hall
 
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 and so and so.
 
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 So you see this as early as about 1764, and it just heats up from there.
 
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 And so what happens is Hose, and he's the example I'm going to get back to with Franklin, because John Hose boasts that at one point he has over 300 people working for him.
 
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 So he's a major employer.
 
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 He is both employing
 
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 London peace workers, cord wainers.
 
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 He's sending his products.
 
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 So there's money coming in.
 
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 So he actually testifies the same day that Franklin does.
 
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 Really?
 
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 Wow.
 
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 And he says...
 
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 And so Franklin is very we know that Franklin ends actually with this very powerful quest.
 
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 He's asked, what do the Americans want from us in regard to the Stamp Act?
 
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 And Franklin says they will wait.
 
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 And I'm paraphrasing here.
 
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 They will wait until they can make their own new clothes.
 
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 rather than buy from you essentially is what he's saying.
 
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 But as strong as his words were, there was a whole contingent of British tradespeople who also testified, including John Hose.
 
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 And John Hose says, and I think his testimony probably carried more weight than Franklin's.
 
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 He says in front of parliament in his testimony, he says, I used to have 300 workers
 
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 My I've now only have 40.
 
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 and my business is destroyed.
 
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 If you get a whole bunch of very well-known, respected tradespeople telling you that your economy is sinking because you have this, and that you need to repeal the Stamp Act, and that's what Ho said, you need to repeal the Stamp Act.
 
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 So I know some scholars in the past have felt like things like the trade embargoes and things didn't make a huge difference, but my evidence actually shows something
 
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 quite different.
 
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 It's just very under the surface.
 
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 The shoes are only one example of many.
 
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 So, Kimberly, you have Hose with this big operation.
 
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 Were there comparable operations in the American colonies?
 
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 How were Americans making shoes?
 
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 Right.
 
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 Well, that's the wonderful thing.
 
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 Even Hose's boast about 300 seems high, even for a London outfit.
 
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 But the...
 
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 idea of the small local shoemaker, cord wainer, is really what we've come away with.
 
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 But there were some exceptions to that.
 
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 Now, the thing that we always need to think about with fashion is what's happening before the revolution and what's happening right after.
 
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 Because there were major strides that were made in linen manufacturing.
 
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 There was a linen manufacturing in Boston by 1765.
 
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 There was a broadcloth factory in Roxbury by 1767.
 
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 You had Lynn churning out thousands of pairs of shoes.
 
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 Even George Washington mentions that before the revolution, they'd been creating boots and shoes.
 
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 Lynn was probably one of the larger sites and was able to produce more shoes than other places.
 
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 So the North Shore has always had a sort of a connection.
 
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 The North Shore of Massachusetts.
 
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 Yeah.
 
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 But heading up into New Hampshire, and I do a lot of work with a New Hampshire shoemaker whose name was Sam Lane, who kept like 60 years worth of almanacs and diaries.
 
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 and he lived right in Stratum, New Hampshire.
 
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 And he, his output of shoes was substantial, but nothing approaching hose.
 
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 And the thing- Did he produce them by himself or did he have other piece work?
 
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 He had apprentices and his family.
 
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 And the other thing that he did, and this is another thing that really flies under the radar screen, is he had his friends and neighbors who would do piece work.
 
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 In other words, sewing together uppers
 
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 or putting together heels, stacked leather heels for men's shoes, that they would do during the winter.
 
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 And he would then put them together.
 
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 So it's a much more widespread sort of arrangement that we find in these New England towns.
 
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 And it's everywhere.
 
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 And so the difference of someone like Hose is he's in an urban area, he's focused just on shoes.
 
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 But we find many of the New England shoemakers were also
 
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 farming or we're surveying.
 
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 And so somebody like Samuel Lane in Stratum, New Hampshire, and his papers, by the way, are at the New Hampshire Historical Society.
 
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 Many of them have been digitized.
 
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 It's a treasure trove, if any of your listeners are interested.
 
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 But so Sam Lane is doing a lot of other things, too.
 
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 He is tanning hides.
 
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 not necessarily buying in leather.
 
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 He's doing this himself because he'll buy the hides from his neighbors, the Barkers down the street who have a farm.
 
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 And you start to see this incredible network.
 
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 I'm starting to sort of look at the geography between these different farmsteads and the names involved.
 
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 So you have Sam Lane who is getting his rye from Barkers.
 
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 And he's doing and somebody else is coming.
 
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 And he's, for example, one of my favorite instances is Sam Lane wants to expand his house.
 
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 So he hires a house right.
 
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 And the wonderful thing about Sam Lane, he left notes about everything.
 
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 So he hires the house, right?
 
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 And the terms of the agreement are he's going to pay him $50 or 50 pounds in cash.
 
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 And the rest of it is going to be paid in his shoes.
 
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 So they were valued like money.
 
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 And that's something else that we find in these
 
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 in the 17th and 18th century in probate inventories is that textiles had a cash value on the street.
 
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 So even if you just bought a bit and a bob and put it away for a rainy day, it could still come back when you needed cash if you were on hard times.
 
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 Interesting.
 
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 We're talking with Kimberly Alexander, who's the director of Museums.
 
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 University of New Hampshire.
 
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 And talking generally about what people wore, fashion, we started really with this elemental idea of who made things.
 
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 But then one of the great documents that recently came to light in the Houghton Library was this non-importation agreement signed in the protest of the Stamp Act.
 
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 Can you tell us a bit about actually the Townsend Acts?
 
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 It's a fascinating document.
 
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 It is a fascinating document.
 
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 And there, again, going back to this idea that these non-importation agreements didn't make a difference, 650 Boston residents signed this document.
 
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 And that was signed in 1767, October 1767 at Faneuil Hall.
 
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 And the list of items that were forbidden
 
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 was also winter pages.
 
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 It included everything from, and I'm going to mention this specifically because if we have time, I'll come back to it, something like kidskin gloves, right?
 
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 But also certain types of obviously distilled spirits, all manner of different sort of British made textiles.
 
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 And people signed on to this, but some of them only did it for a certain amount of time because they were not sure which way things were going to go.
 
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 So some people signed on for six months or a year and so on.
 
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 The other thing that I found fascinating in that document that I'm also currently looking at the sort of the geography of where the signers were from in Boston.
 
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 We all know Boston was an eminently walkable and small city.
 
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 But there are many women who also signed, women business owners who signed this agreement.
 
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 And it's fascinating.
 
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 Many of them were plants women and had their own small millinery shops and things like that.
 
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 And most of them, from my initial research, did not necessarily make it through the revolution to restart their businesses.
 
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 petition to with London dressmakers, hat makers.
 
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 But it, and it also would have hurt their, the thing is it hurts your supply chain, right?
 
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 Because so a lot of the women who also signed this agreement were people who special women who specialized in seeds and plants.
 
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 So if your source is cut off from England and people are used to having certain types of, uh, uh,
 
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 foods, you know, you're actually making a major statement about your livelihood.
 
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 And I think that's something that we don't often understand.
 
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 It's not like people can just, you know, necessarily pick up and process all of this.
 
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 So this is a really big deal and a commitment.
 
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 It is.
 
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 It really is.
 
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 And one of the other things you see developing in this period, or you've pointed out, is the difference in things people are purchasing or fashions they're wearing.
 
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 Patriots versus loyalists.
 
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 So what can we learn about fashion from what people are choosing not to wear or to wear?
 
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 Right.
 
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 Well, I mean, there's a tremendous amount of...
 
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 of material on things that are being homespun, handmade.
 
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 And there's a tremendous amount that has been written on that.
 
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 One of the things that I also see is the reuse.
 
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 When I was doing the research for
 
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 treasures afoot, I kept looking at shoes and noticing that probably out of the thousand pair of shoes that I looked at over time and have continued to look at, probably 75% of them have been altered in some way.
 
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 And most of them fall within that time period from 1765 to
 
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 until the 1780s.
 
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 And so they're still adapting, but they're keeping the old shoe.
 
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 Because once you've made the purchase, it's not like you're buying something new.
 
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 You're not going against the trade embargoes or the non-intercourse agreements.
 
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 but you are having them repaired, fixed, updated if you can, and so on.
 
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 So I noticed a tremendous amount of alteration in shoes.
 
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 But there are little things that also come up to the surface.
 
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 We all know about William Dawes.
 
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 This is actually one of my favorites.
 
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 So we know William Dawes is a third rider, Paul Revere, right?
 
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 But what people may not know is that when, actually, I'd like to, this is a quote that's so perfect.
 
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 If you don't mind, I'd like to share it with you.
 
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 So when William Dawes was a tanner by trade, a leather worker, and he ultimately had a shop, a small business.
 
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 But when he was 23, he married Mehitable May,
 
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 He was 23.
 
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 She was 17.
 
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 She was from Roxbury, as I recall.
 
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 And around the same time, so in 1767, Roxbury had opened a broadcloth factory where they were manufacturing their own home cloth.
 
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 wool coats, broadcloths, which they touted as being as good as any you could buy from England.
 
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 There's a lot of really strong language, too, in these advertisements that say that's as cheap or as good as any that you're going to find in England.
 
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 Shoe ads and clothing ads and so on.
 
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 So May 3rd of, let's see, of 1768, Dawes and Mehitabal may get married.
 
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 Now, he's an artisan tradesperson, and they didn't tend to do wedding announcements the way that we think of it today.
 
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 You don't find a lot of those.
 
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 But what we do know is that his wedding was enough to be listed in history.
 
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 a contemporary newspaper.
 
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 And this is what we know.
 
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 He wore a suit of American woven cloth.
 
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 And the newspaper, and this is the quote, said that, I quote, dressed wholly in manufacturers of this country, wherein he did honor to himself and merits the respect of his province.
 
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 Wow.
 
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 So this is really... Wait, does it say anything about what the bride wore?
 
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 No, nothing.
 
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 Nothing about what the bride wore.
 
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 So so this is a really telling, I think, sort of watershed moment.
 
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 And, you know, and this is right out of the newspaper and the fact that it captured people's imagination.
 
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 Now, I don't know if it was from the Roxbury newspaper.
 
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 factory, but I think we can probably speculate, especially as Mehedabal was from Roxbury and because Dawes was such a patriot that this would have made a lot of sense to him.
 
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 So that's a great example of what a patriot could be doing.
 
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 We even find, if you go through John Hancock's inventory, John Hancock, in my humble opinion, has gotten, I think because of the biographers who wrote about him in the early 19th century,
 
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 disdained him for a variety of reasons, but as a peacock and so on and so on.
 
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 But if you actually go through some of his surviving records, you find that he's buying as much as he can from local tailors.
 
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 He buys a pair of breeches from a tailor in Boston.
 
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 He's buying his shoes.
 
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 Now, Dorothy is a different story.
 
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 His wife is a different story.
 
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 She's still wanting some of the fancier.
 
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 Interesting.
 
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 We talked to Brooke Barbier a couple of weeks ago who's written a new book about Hancock, which I think will put him in a different light.
 
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 That's interesting that Dorothy Quincy is buying things from the fashion while he's
 
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 getting locally made.
 
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 Right.
 
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 It's complicated.
 
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 And as they say, even the Crimson suit that is likely his inauguration suit that's at Revolutionary Spaces has had a lot of wear and remaking.
 
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 And the brilliant tailor, Henry Cook, has done, I think, a replication of that.
 
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 So Dawes is a good example of the type of what the patriots were trying to accomplish.
 
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 And then if you look at
 
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 the loyalists.
 
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 So if I could use, I'm just going to use one example for each because I know we don't have a lot of time.
 
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 So you may recall Reverend Mather Biles.
 
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 Right.
 
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 Right.
 
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 Who was ousted from his pulpit because of his loyalist leanings and
 
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 ended up under house arrest and all that.
 
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 Well, one of the main items, as I mentioned, that was included in the non-importation agreements were kids' skin gloves coming from London.
 
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 So when I was doing research with Anne Bentley at the Massachusetts Historical Society for Fashioning the New England Family,
 
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 We found a pair of white kidskin gloves that had come down through the Mathers family.
 
 21:30.807 --> 21:33.169
 There's an extensive collection.
 
 21:33.849 --> 21:43.418
 And I don't know if anyone had opened them before, but we looked and inside was a stamp that said they were the finest kidskin from London.
 
 21:44.619 --> 21:48.683
 And they were stamped by Richard Inman, another loyalist.
 
 21:49.881 --> 22:03.707
 So you have Biles buying blatantly, purchasing something that is not deemed appropriate by the Patriots, and he's buying it from a fellow loyalist, which makes sense.
 
 22:03.727 --> 22:06.729
 So people are going to be going to shop
 
 22:07.717 --> 22:11.480
 in places that meet their political needs.
 
 22:12.841 --> 22:14.143
 Those are just two examples.
 
 22:14.203 --> 22:15.564
 There are many more.
 
 22:16.745 --> 22:18.967
 But I thought that was a good one.
 
 22:19.047 --> 22:27.634
 And then another example that sort of shows what happens when you get caught up in all of this is Isaac and Mary Vibrant.
 
 22:29.235 --> 22:34.580
 And there's a fascinating piece I came across when I was doing my shoe research.
 
 22:37.029 --> 22:44.052
 It's a broadside that was put in a newspaper with a merchant, Isaac Vibrid.
 
 22:45.353 --> 22:55.877
 It's 1770, so it's right as thick of things, where he's saying that he's protesting the fact that somebody had published
 
 22:57.418 --> 23:09.627
 actually had put up broadsides around town saying that he was a loyalist and that he had taken tea, had purchased tea from the shop of, I think the last name was Jackson's shop.
 
 23:10.488 --> 23:14.230
 And he said, I did not and I never would.
 
 23:14.751 --> 23:16.092
 So he's taken out an ad.
 
 23:16.112 --> 23:16.232
 Wow.
 
 23:17.421 --> 23:27.705
 to say that he would never do that and that it must have been somebody who wanted to injure his reputation in this good town and so on and so on.
 
 23:27.845 --> 23:35.028
 And he said, and if this is not enough of an account to prove it to you, my wife, Mary and I will take an oath
 
 23:35.828 --> 23:38.471
 before a judge to this point.
 
 23:39.452 --> 23:49.484
 And he says at the very end, the only reason she stopped by Jackson's shop was to pick up some shoes that were made in Lynn.
 
 23:50.865 --> 23:57.288
 And Lynn shoes are the code for Patriot shoes that you can buy, right?
 
 23:57.669 --> 23:58.989
 Wow.
 
 23:59.409 --> 24:03.992
 So this is the level of which things are happening.
 
 24:04.432 --> 24:08.554
 And so people may think that fashion, well, what does it really matter?
 
 24:08.574 --> 24:09.735
 Well, it does.
 
 24:10.115 --> 24:11.616
 It matters a lot.
 
 24:13.397 --> 24:16.038
 We're talking with Kimberly Alexander from the University.
 
 24:19.557 --> 24:33.150
 and also a lecturer in history and has worked with a lot of museums in New England and done two really interesting books about fashion, one on shoes and one on fashion more generally.
 
 24:33.831 --> 24:40.137
 Now, were there specific things that people might or might not wear to signal their political allegiance?
 
 24:40.397 --> 24:42.900
 Did fashion change as a result of all of this?
 
 24:43.663 --> 24:54.085
 Well, I mean, fashion, after the American Revolution, I mean, fashion undergoes the whole age of revolutions between then the French Revolution.
 
 24:54.825 --> 25:02.547
 Fashion changes just dramatically because of technology, because of philosophical reasons, for example.
 
 25:03.107 --> 25:09.048
 One example people like to cite is this move away from fashion
 
 25:10.068 --> 25:18.453
 these very luxurious silks and textiles and high-heeled shoes so that you're more on level with everyday people.
 
 25:18.493 --> 25:36.742
 But I also think that the founders were looking so much towards Greece and Rome in their architecture and their politics and what they were reading.
 
 25:37.242 --> 25:38.523
 I think that the clothing
 
 25:40.234 --> 25:48.042
 sort of transform somewhat naturally into what we think of as the Pierre style and the more tightly fitted frock coats.
 
 25:48.462 --> 25:55.429
 But there's always been a huge difference between what the elite and the everyday person to wear.
 
 25:56.250 --> 25:58.272
 or had options to wear.
 
 25:59.072 --> 26:06.837
 And it changes again when you get to those who were enslaved and then those who were free.
 
 26:08.378 --> 26:11.460
 So it's a very, very complex subject.
 
 26:12.461 --> 26:17.965
 And then there are issues of things like what we would call today what sort of appropriation.
 
 26:18.405 --> 26:25.510
 Some of the shoemakers' day books, I find the shoemakers making something that they call moccasins, which were moccasins.
 
 26:26.210 --> 26:29.954
 But I don't have any visual examples of what they intended.
 
 26:29.994 --> 26:33.798
 I assume they were a soft leather shoe boot, but I don't know.
 
 26:33.858 --> 26:39.384
 And that shows up in dozens of New England books.
 
 26:39.704 --> 26:42.086
 So the style definitely changed.
 
 26:42.107 --> 26:43.688
 It became simpler also.
 
 26:44.489 --> 26:48.153
 But you also have technology changing after the Revolution.
 
 26:48.713 --> 26:56.036
 So as I mentioned, you already had a linen manufacturing, broadcloth manufacturing, carding mills and wool mills.
 
 26:56.817 --> 26:59.378
 Then you have this hiatus during the war.
 
 27:00.218 --> 27:04.340
 People often think that, you know, post-revolution in America, then everything went crazy.
 
 27:04.420 --> 27:07.842
 Actually, the seeds were already well-seeded beforehand.
 
 27:08.362 --> 27:16.626
 And so it just, and the non-reliance on foreign imports continued to be
 
 27:17.307 --> 27:19.810
 a very important part well into the 19th century.
 
 27:20.250 --> 27:22.292
 So you're having technology is speeding up.
 
 27:22.773 --> 27:24.214
 Ideology is changing.
 
 27:24.234 --> 27:28.018
 Even work life is, you know, is changing and things like that.
 
 27:29.119 --> 27:34.945
 Now, one of the really interesting projects you've been involved in UNH is actually creating flax.
 
 27:35.085 --> 27:39.249
 You have a flax farm and you're, can you tell us a bit about the flax project?
 
 27:39.704 --> 27:40.625
 How long do you have?
 
 27:43.267 --> 27:45.189
 I know we don't have that long.
 
 27:45.630 --> 27:55.099
 But this spring, for the first time, I taught a class called From Homespun to Fast Fashion, A Global History of Textiles.
 
 27:55.956 --> 27:58.457
 And it was a combined class of grads and undergrads.
 
 27:59.037 --> 28:02.418
 And I spent a lot of time talking about natural fibers at the beginning of the class.
 
 28:03.138 --> 28:05.159
 And we spent a few days talking about linen.
 
 28:05.339 --> 28:13.062
 And one of my graduate students, Sophie McDonald said, wouldn't it be great if we could actually grow it ourselves?
 
 28:14.042 --> 28:15.603
 And I thought about what she said.
 
 28:15.844 --> 28:24.030
 And I thought, well, we're at a school with an agricultural background, you know, we're a land grant college, university.
 
 28:24.731 --> 28:28.814
 And so I talked to our chair, Kirk Dorsey.
 
 28:28.874 --> 28:29.655
 He was behind it.
 
 28:29.735 --> 28:30.735
 And the next thing you know,
 
 28:31.596 --> 28:38.743
 We were working with a sustainable agriculture program, and I was doing research on flax.
 
 28:38.803 --> 28:43.447
 I've been working with Mennonite communities and Harmonist communities.
 
 28:43.487 --> 28:46.350
 We've now a field of beautiful flax growing.
 
 28:47.811 --> 28:53.636
 One of the things that I found in my research for General John Montgomery
 
 28:55.439 --> 29:06.847
 up in Haverhill, New Hampshire for the book I'm currently working on, is that often you planted rye and flax together because they germinated at the same time.
 
 29:07.308 --> 29:08.629
 So we're planting a field.
 
 29:09.009 --> 29:15.094
 We also have, in addition to the flax, we have rye, cotton, rice, indigo.
 
 29:16.475 --> 29:20.298
 So we're trying a number of different things, but the flax is definitely going well.
 
 29:20.918 --> 29:36.162
 And we are now doing research into New England Day books and looking at all different types of references to flax in terms of gender and work, in terms of barter and sale.
 
 29:38.623 --> 29:45.527
 And this is speculation, but I'm going to put it out there anyway, Bob, if you think that's all right.
 
 29:46.787 --> 29:54.491
 I think that what I'm finding is that the growth of flax, you could grow a lot in a very small area.
 
 29:56.753 --> 29:59.734
 But it was usually in your yard, your door yard.
 
 30:00.314 --> 30:06.157
 And it seems to me that it was not considered to be a commodity by the British.
 
 30:07.449 --> 30:15.687
 And so I'm starting to see this that flax had always been important to the family used for so many things.
 
 30:16.489 --> 30:18.212
 Um, but, uh,
 
 30:19.741 --> 30:26.102
 I'm starting to see an increase in orders of flax seed in the 1750s, 60s, and 70s.
 
 30:26.742 --> 30:32.923
 Now, I don't have enough data to say that with full confidence.
 
 30:33.463 --> 30:44.005
 But I think what we may find is that, and of course, as I mentioned, there was a linen manufacturing that was taking the flax and making it into cloth in Boston.
 
 30:44.585 --> 30:47.126
 So clearly, there is something, I think, there.
 
 30:49.126 --> 30:54.711
 So just to tell you where we're headed with this.
 
 30:55.011 --> 31:01.376
 So it's not only experiential from growing the flax, we are now learning how to spin.
 
 31:01.596 --> 31:03.618
 One of my students is making a flax break.
 
 31:04.078 --> 31:06.981
 We're gonna be reading it, which is the hardest part I gather.
 
 31:07.381 --> 31:08.442
 What's a flex break?
 
 31:08.902 --> 31:14.787
 A flex break is what you need to actually break down the woody sort of fibers.
 
 31:15.367 --> 31:16.468
 And then you have to red it.
 
 31:16.568 --> 31:18.070
 You have to get it wet.
 
 31:18.470 --> 31:22.033
 I mean, the process of this is, it is not easy.
 
 31:26.417 --> 31:29.201
 And so we're designing a flax break.
 
 31:29.721 --> 31:33.366
 We went to the Woodman Museum in Dover, took measurements.
 
 31:34.928 --> 31:36.309
 And so we're doing that.
 
 31:36.370 --> 31:37.671
 We're reading the account books.
 
 31:38.012 --> 31:43.498
 And we're also locating collections that have examples of homespun linen.
 
 31:44.079 --> 32:02.405
 Particularly, I've been able, we've been able to locate a few with, that are actually connected to the women who made them, which is very exciting because that's kind of, again, this is something that's very much under the usual sort of economic, you know, markers.
 
 32:02.966 --> 32:03.546
 Right, right.
 
 32:03.926 --> 32:07.227
 Yeah, because Franklin mentions how the lambs are not growing up into sheep.
 
 32:09.268 --> 32:14.031
 But flax, is that something that primarily women would have been involved in the production?
 
 32:14.371 --> 32:16.853
 Well, that's one of the things that we're looking at.
 
 32:17.453 --> 32:31.842
 And one of the reasons I think the revolution was important for women in flax, there tended to be, if the men were planting the field, they would plant the flax and often do the harvesting, which is definitely challenging.
 
 32:32.663 --> 32:36.265
 And then at that point, it was taken over by, generally by women.
 
 32:36.786 --> 32:43.657
 to do the flax break, the redding, and then breaking it down into what was toe fiber or toe cloth, very rough.
 
 32:44.907 --> 32:48.128
 and then it could be different grades for different purposes.
 
 32:48.788 --> 32:56.349
 But one of the things that I'm looking at right now is, so what happens when all the men are off fighting?
 
 32:57.129 --> 33:00.410
 Now the women are dealing with the flax as well.
 
 33:01.730 --> 33:07.191
 And so I'm very interested in seeing how this plays out.
 
 33:07.831 --> 33:10.792
 We also find, I did some research
 
 33:12.199 --> 33:19.168
 planting a flax here at my house, some of it in absolutely garbage soil to see it come up.
 
 33:19.609 --> 33:22.793
 And then I did some in very nice soil, and then we have some at the farm.
 
 33:23.434 --> 33:25.657
 Because I'd like to know, could everybody really
 
 33:28.260 --> 33:30.440
 pretty much count on a crop of flax.
 
 33:30.781 --> 33:35.001
 And also, how much did it take to make one linen shirt or one record shelf?
 
 33:35.642 --> 33:42.983
 So I hope by the end of the year, we got funding from the UNH Humanities Council for this project.
 
 33:43.703 --> 33:51.905
 And I hope by the end of the year, so it'll be spring of 2023, we'll be able to have answers to many more of these questions.
 
 33:52.648 --> 33:52.888
 Yeah.
 
 33:53.429 --> 33:56.711
 So how is your flax doing that you planted in your yard?
 
 33:56.771 --> 33:58.012
 Well, it's doing great.
 
 33:58.132 --> 34:05.356
 Even the stuff that I planted in just a bunch of junk soil that's filled with roots and next to the driveway and it's coming up.
 
 34:05.937 --> 34:06.817
 I can't believe it.
 
 34:07.438 --> 34:08.098
 So it does.
 
 34:08.358 --> 34:11.561
 So I think that's an important part of what we're doing with this experiment.
 
 34:12.001 --> 34:16.104
 But one of my grad students went to a spin in the other day.
 
 34:16.164 --> 34:17.524
 She's already mastered spinning.
 
 34:17.645 --> 34:17.905
 Really?
 
 34:17.925 --> 34:18.025
 Yeah.
 
 34:18.445 --> 34:21.427
 So spending is when you turn it into threat.
 
 34:21.848 --> 34:22.448
 Exactly.
 
 34:22.468 --> 34:23.008
 Yeah.
 
 34:23.409 --> 34:35.517
 And so we're hoping ultimately one of, one of our PhD candidates has been doing a lot of work with linen and the French and Indian war and what the soldiers were wearing.
 
 34:35.938 --> 34:40.841
 So my, my goal is that we would be able to replicate a man's shirt for him.
 
 34:41.462 --> 34:45.484
 Jonathan points out that
 
 34:49.796 --> 34:53.019
 It would also be domestic linen, too, since it is the dollar.
 
 34:53.059 --> 34:53.359
 So, yeah.
 
 34:53.780 --> 35:04.269
 Well, and the thing that's great about linen is it was important during World War I. And then you see it was very important during World War II.
 
 35:04.629 --> 35:07.452
 There's some wonderful British Pathé paintings.
 
 35:08.392 --> 35:18.300
 film clips of linen being processed, first the flax being grown and harvested and then processed for the war effort in the 40s.
 
 35:18.681 --> 35:26.027
 So I'm also working with a victory garden at a museum from the 40s, and we'll be planting linen there too.
 
 35:26.347 --> 35:29.630
 Or planting flax, sorry, and hopefully producing linen.
 
 35:29.670 --> 35:33.413
 How are the rice and cotton doing up in New Hampshire?
 
 35:34.918 --> 35:36.419
 I don't know, we'll have to see.
 
 35:36.619 --> 35:40.782
 So far the cotton's not, I don't know.
 
 35:43.023 --> 35:44.544
 Look, it's taken.
 
 35:45.065 --> 36:01.976
 I just, I don't know if it's gonna have long enough, but that's, you know, our Professor Becky Seidman, who is our contact with sustainable agriculture, has really, is handling the rice
 
 36:02.532 --> 36:05.695
 indigo and cotton part of this.
 
 36:06.095 --> 36:18.286
 But our ultimate hope is that the indigo might take off and we would actually be able to dye our flax with New England grown indigo, which would be pretty phenomenal.
 
 36:18.406 --> 36:18.626
 Great.
 
 36:20.628 --> 36:20.808
 Thanks.
 
 36:20.848 --> 36:23.650
 We've been talking with Kimberly Alexander, who is director of...
 
 36:35.299 --> 36:48.392
 Sorry, Bob.
 
 36:49.093 --> 36:49.353
 Sorry.
 
 36:49.593 --> 36:54.718
 I think that might be a good signal that it's time for us to call this a day and have you
 
 36:58.168 --> 36:58.528
 period.
 
 36:58.868 --> 37:05.513
 So thank you to Kimberly Alexander, and thank you to Justin Lane, our producer, and our listeners in different places.
 
 37:05.613 --> 37:08.955
 And every week, I thank folks who are tuning in.
 
 37:09.215 --> 37:11.717
 And if you're in one of these places,
 
 37:17.481 --> 37:18.942
 Revolution 250 magnets.
 
 37:19.262 --> 37:27.284
 Maybe by the time this is done, we can send a linen tea towel or something made with linen from UNH.
 
 37:27.364 --> 37:42.289
 So I want to thank folks in Leawood, Kansas, Nassau in the Bahamas, Leesburg, Florida, San Jose in Long Beach, California, Frankfurt in Germany, and Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and all places beyond and between.
 
 37:42.349 --> 37:43.189
 Thanks for joining us.
 
 37:43.229 --> 37:44.710
 Now we'll be piped out on