Life and Labor over Four Centuries

January 1, 2017 Published by Ryan Conary

In 2017, The House of the Seven Gables will examine life and labor over four centuries on our museum campus which is a National Historic Landmark District. The annual exhibition will focus on the roles of those that have worked in the buildings and on the grounds of our site ranging from enslaved people to settlement workers. The exhibit committee has been extensively researching the inhabitants of The Gables and learning about how their work compared to others in the region and throughout North America. Mark your calendars for the exhibit opening event on April 7.

The popular Seven Lectures at Seven Gables series will kick off on March 2. A.B. Chitty and Priscilla Murolo will be presenting From the Folks who Brought You the Weekend: A Short, Illustrated History of Labor in the United States. The lecture series will conclude with William Martin’s newest work of historical fiction—The Mother Lode—due out this summer. In between, visitors will have a chance to learn about slavery in Essex County and New England, maritime work, and the upstairs/downstairs story related to domestic staff.

The life and labor theme will use the Community Conversation series to open up dialogue about the immigrant experience and the impact of labor. The first Community Conversation is scheduled for May 17. Local activist Jeanne Kempthorne will talk about the impact of gas-powered lawn equipment in the landscaping business, particularly the people who work with the equipment. Mary Lui of Yale University will present her work, The Chinatown Trunk Mystery. Her conversation will talk about the impact of media on immigrants in the early 20th century and today. Avi Chomsky will return in September to share the history of labor in Salem’s Point neighborhood.

Final details are in the works for a partnership with The Upstart Crows to offer a theatrical presentation about the life of Joan Sullivan, an indentured servant who worked for John Turner. The Living History Labs and family programs will allow for hands-on history experiences that share the work story with our young visitors. Liz Duclos-Orsello from Salem State University will offer a walking tour of The Point neighborhood about the geography of work that focused on both the work in the mills and the work in the homes. Labor themed tours will be offered throughout the year—be sure to follow us on Facebook or check out our event calendar for the most up-to-date events.

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This post was written by Ryan Conary