Deerfield's Progressive Impulse

Mission Statements and Village Industries

Industry vs. Art

The Deerfield Arts and Crafts Society was renamed the Society of Deerfield Industries in 1906. At the moment of this change, the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework declined to rejoin the newly named organization. The reasons for this were perhaps ideological and are suggested by the seemingly opposing stances toward 'the principles of handicraft' taken by the first president of the Deerfield Industries, Madeline Yale Wynne and by Blue and White Society co-founder, Margaret Whiting.

The highly inclusive nature of the Society of Deerfield Industries was cultivated by Madeline Wynne. Weaver Eleanor Arms remembered her as, "an enthusiastic follower of [William] Morris. I believe she would have liked to see a little Hammersmith 1 in Deerfield. Perhaps it was with this dream in mind that she went about looking for genius in everyone, or failing that, for ability, perseverance. Helping, encouraging, inspiring, suggesting, never antagonizing."2 In 1905, Wynne herself asked, "is it not true that the arts and crafts idea, the making of things by hand, is only an important second to the making of happy people?...the time is sure to come when certain people with the great gift of neighborliness, the geniuses of the race, will find it in their way to take up life temporarily or places where there are scattered communities in need of new enthusiasms and new energies."3

Margaret Whiting, on the other hand, consistently placed aesthetic quality above all concerns for the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework. "Far be it from me," she wrote in 1900, "to suggest that the village, and the man, or the woman, does not need to make money, and to earn a living, but these well-intentioned social reformers and philanthropical theorists defeat their own ends. It is not charity but art which founds and maintains a craft. Art cares naught for human needs, or social betterment: she must be served alone, with a single minded devotion to her altar-fires....Labor falters when it takes to a crutch, and Art disappears when her fires are fed with the curse of charity."3

  1. Morri's house, Kelmscott, is located in Hammersmith and the rugs made there were known as Hammersmith rugs. See
  2. Eleanor M. Arms, "Notes on Deerfield Industries, May 25,1929. Arms Family Papers, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Library.
  3. Madeline Yale Wynne, "Arts and Crafts for the Lonely," Good Housekeeping, Volume 40, No. 2, February 1905, 250.
  4. Margaret C. Whiting, "Notes on Village Industries," typescript, 1900. Deerfield Town Papers. Collection of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

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