People

Eleanor M. Arms

1864-1937

 Eleanor M. Arms

© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

"Miss Eleanor Arms at her loom in her home in Old Deerfield," by Frances and Mary Allen, c. 1900.

Eleanor Arms once wrote, "There is nothing more fascinating to my way of thinking than sitting down to a perfectly strung loom and building up something beautiful, with no pattern but one, the love for color harmony which is part of every weaver's natural equipment."1 Eleanor purchased her first loom in 1902, and became famous for her homespun and vegetable-dyed rugs woven, within customer view, at her home and shop The Loom. Among Eleanor Arms' customers was former First Lady, Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt. In 1935 First Lady Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt purchased, among other items, a yellow bag woven by Eleanor. In addition to hearth rugs, Eleanor Arms wove blankets, couch covers, portieres, and table covers.

"When the nation wide craze for handicrafts struck Deerfield," Eleanor remembered, "I was only home summers and I recall coming back that year to find the whole town agog, my sedate neighbors were going about with something resembling witches brooms in their arms and there was much talk of 'leaf' and 'button' quite incomprehensible to me."2 Eleanor soon became involved in many of Deerfield's Arts and Crafts initiatives. She learned to embroider for the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework, and was an active member of the Society of Deerfield Industries, consistently appearing in the annual brochures publicizing members' work. She was the Society of Deerfield Industries' secretary between 1917 and 1934. Eleanor was also a member of the Deerfield Basket Makers, with whom she displayed and sold her palm leaf baskets at various locations within and outside New England. In 1931, Eleanor was invited to join an exhibit of the "Home Industries of New England" at the Chicago World's Fair. Graced with multiple talents, Eleanor Arms was an author, as well as a craftsman. Her stories and articles appeared in Good Housekeeping, The Youth's Companion, and the Springfield Republican, a western Massachusetts newspaper.

  1. Eleanor M. Arms, "Notes on Deerfield Industries for Cape Cod Talk, May 25, 1929," Arms Family Papers, Box 10. PVMA Library.
  2. Ibid.