hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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August 22, 2013

Smithsonian exhibit on American working heritage coming to city

A Smithsonian exhibit exploring the importance of Work in American Life “The Way We Worked” is coming to the region just prior to Labor Day.

Spanning the years 1857 to 1987, the exhibit celebrates the history of work in America and tells the stories of how hard-working Americans of every ethnicity, class, gender and age power the nation.

It will first be in Haverhill on Aug. 24 and then movie to Lynn in October. Both are cities that have an important place in American manufacturing history. While Haverhill is known for its shoe manufacturing heritage, this exhibit will explore many other industries past and present including Mason & Hamlin piano manufacturers, one of only two piano manufacturers left in the country, as well as Fantini Bakery and Southwick Clothing.

Images in the exhibit reflect a workforce shaped by immigration and ethnicity, slavery and racial segregation, wage labor and technology, gender roles and class, as well as the American ideals of freedom and equality.

The exhibit will be open to the public Aug. 24 to Oct. 6, Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Haverhill Historical Society, 240 Water St.

The Buttonwoods Museum/Haverhill Historical Society have chosen to host “The Way We Worked” as part of the Museum on Main Street project — a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to regional cultural organizations.

“The Way We Worked,” adapted from an original exhibit developed by the National Archives and Records Administration, explores how work has become a central element in American culture. It traces the many changes that have affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years, including the growth of manufacturing and increasing use of technology.

The exhibit draws from the archives’ rich collections, including historical photographs, archival accounts of workers, film, audio and interactives, to tell the compelling story of how work impacts our individual lives and the historical and cultural fabric of our communities.

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