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The Material Culture of Needlework and Sewing

Mary C. Beaudry

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Mary C. Beaudry mines archaeological findings of sewing and needlework to discover what these small traces of female experience reveal about the societies and cultures in which they were used. Beaudry’s geographical and chronological scope is broad: she examines sites in the United States and Great Britain, as well as Australia and Canada, and she ranges from the Middle Ages through the Industrial Revolution.
The author describes the social and cultural significance of “findings”: pins, needles, thimbles, scissors, and other sewing accessories and tools. Through the fascinating stories that grow out of these findings, Beaudry shows the extent to which such “small things” were deeply entrenched in the construction of gender, personal identity, and social class.

Mary C. Beaudry is professor of archaeology and anthropology, Boston University.

"In Findings, Beaudry offers for the first time a scholarly, theoretically enriched and historically situated guide to the needlework and sewing tools of the British isles and North America. She employs these ‘small finds’ to write 'large histories.'"—Lu Ann De Cunzo, Professor of Anthropology and Early American Culture, University of Delaware

"Comprehensive in its time and geographic scale in a way that is rarely attempted in our field. The work is extraordinarily sound and original scholarship."—Laurie Wilkie, Department of Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley


"...Beaudry has written about pins, needles, thimbles, scissors and shears, among other things, revealing the diversity of form and function in these seemingly homogeneous tools.  The author demonstrates how attention to such details can provide clues as to the people and situations in which the objects were used."  - Jane Webb, Embroidery

"Findings is filled with revelations that will change the way readers think about subjects they thought they already knew."—Marla Miller, The New England Quarterly

"Well researched, well written, and filled with interesting facts and compellingly told case studies. The information is of relevance to archaeologists, social historians, collectors, and curators."—Linda Baumgarten, Winterthur Portfolio

"Mary C. Beaudry is one of the leading historical archaeologists currently practicing in the United States. . . . Beaudry has compiled an indispensable text, one that has set the standard for research on needlework and sewing artifacts."—Garrett Fesler, Museum Anthropology (American Anthropological Assocation)
ISBN: 9780300110937
Publication Date: January 28, 2007
256 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
46 b/w illus.