Deerfield's Progressive Impulse

Mission Statements and Village Industries

The Principles of Handicraft

On the 4th of July 1904, the western Massachusetts Arts and Crafts societies of Deerfield, Greenfield and New Clairvaux published A Declaration of Economic Independence. The pamphlet reproduced a statement written by the leadership of the nation's first Arts and Crafts Society, founded in Boston in 1897. That statement, the Principles of Handicraft, was originally published in 1902 in the magazine, Handicraft. It expressed the reform goals of The Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston for "the training of true craftsmen," who could express "individual character in connection with artistic work," and for raising, "the standards of beauty in objects of use." Individual artisans would be required to prioritize quality over profit in order to achieve these goals. The craftsman would need to find a way to make "an adequate livelihood" while placing a desire to produce useful, "good and beautiful work" above "primarily the love of gain."1 America's homes were filled with factory-made domestic goods which embodied the opposite concern, the subordination of quality to profit. Arts and Crafts societies nationwide, each in its own unique way, sought to reform the production and sale of domestic craft objects. Through the course of its own history, the Deerfield Arts and Crafts movement would return again and again to the complex and interrelated issues of quality and how to make "an adequate livelihood" with objects made by hand.

  1. "Principles of Handicraft," Handicraft 1902.

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© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

Deerfield et al. Declaration of Economic Independence

New Clairvaux Press, Promotional Pamphlet, 1904

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