Deerfield's Progressive Impulse

Mission Statements and Village Industries

Village Industries: Greenfield and New Clairvaux

At the turn of the 20th century, the problem of creating "good and beautiful work" while attaining a livelihood was seen in a variety of ways by the many artisans for whom it was a central concern. Arts and Crafts societies across the nation took unique approaches to the problem of the sustainable production of beautiful things for the home. "The Movement for Village Industries," published in Handicraft magazine in 1902 described the organizational structures of the Deerfield, Greenfield and New Clairvaux Arts and Crafts societies. Greenfield had a membership organization. Up to 25 regular members paid an annual membership fee and submitted their work to the its jury for review. These regular members were "especially interested in the movement and...willing to give of their time and money."1 The associate members were craftsmen who did not pay an annual fee, but whose juried work was displayed in the Society's salesrooms. Honorary life members were non-craftsmen who paid a onetime fee in support of the society. The Greenfield Arts and Crafts Society had "rooms for study, instruction and work," in addition to rooms for "exhibition and sales purposes."2

The New Clairvaux Arts and Crafts Society was begun in Montague, Massachusetts in 1902. Its founder, the Reverend Edward P. Pressey, was far more interested in social reform than either Greenfield or Deerfield. As Pressy clarified in The Vision of New Clairvaux, "I do not mean to say that we stand for charity as that word goes. We stand rather for the idea that everyone should bear his part in the labor of feeding, clothing and housing the world, even if all his efforts in this direction are expended upon himself....It will thus be readily seen that we purpose to group the essential arts and industries under conditions of mutual interest and freedom between the workers."3 An Arts and Crafts life could be quite fulfilling. As New Clairvaux printer Carl Rollins put it, "the 'profits' of the movement are in the enlarged life which is offered to whoso will enter thoroughly into it. It is a pretty plain case of losing one's life to find it."4 A small number of families at New Clairvaux each resided on their own farms but shared common craft work. Youth were encouraged to learn a craftsman skill.

  1. Sylvester Baxter, "The Movement for Village Industries, Handicraft Vol. I October 1902 No. VII, 156. Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, library.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Edward P. Pressey, The Vision of New Clairvaux or Ethical Reconstruction Through combination of Agriculture and Handicraft... (Boston: Sherman, French and Company), 1909, 113-116. Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Library.
  4. Carl Rollins, "The Arts and Crafts Movement," Country Time & Tide 6, no1(May 1904), 26, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Library.

iconIn Their Words

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© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

Illustration from "The Cabinet work at New Clairvaux"

New Clairvaux Press, 1907.

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