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August 29, 2013

A history of how Haverhill and America worked

City's museum hosts Smithsonian exhibit

The Buttonwoods Museum and Haverhill Historical Society are exploring the professions and workers who sustain American society, as they host “The Way We Worked,” a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit.

The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., is the world’s largest research and museum complex.

“The Way We Worked” is a collection of dozens of images from the National Archives spanning the years 1857 to 1987. It celebrates the history of work in America and tells the stories of hard-working people of every ethnic group, class, gender and age.

The exhibit is visiting only two Massachusetts communities — Haverhill and Lynn.

The exhibit is being shown at the Buttonwoods Museum now through Oct 6. The museum is also presenting “The Way Haverhill Worked,” a collection of local images focusing on city businesses such as Fantini Bakery.

For most people, shoe manufacturing comes to mind when they think of how Haverhill people worked over the years. But the local exhibit explores many other Haverhill industries past and present, including Mason & Hamlin, which moved to Haverhill in 1989. Of the hundreds of American piano companies that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mason & Hamlin is one of only a few that survive today.

Fantini Bakery in the Mount Washington neighborhood has been in Haverhill since 1905. Photos of Fantini family members and workers from the past which were displayed on the walls of the business are part of the exhibit.

Other local businesses featured include Chaucer Leather, which is still in operation, as well as Barrett’s Menswear and the original Macy’s store, neither of which are still operating.

The Haverhill Historical Society and Buttonwoods Museum were chosen to host “The Way We Worked” as part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street project — a national/state/local partnership that brings educational exhibits to regional cultural organizations.

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