Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Women's Research Resource: Knitting Social History

Knitting? You're probably thinking, "what does knitting have to do with genealogy?" In researching women, social history is an important piece of the puzzle. Paying attention to women's activities can help lead to additional records.

Elderly woman, knitting. From the George Eastman House via Flickr The Commons

I have to admit I have always loved knitting. Do I knit? No. I've tried to learn and maybe will attempt it again one day. But I love reading about knitting, whether it's stories of women providing for their families through knitting  or for a war effort, it's a story of women's lives that needs to be told.

Judy Weightman, a writer and editor has two posts about war time knitting. Over Here: Knitting on the Homefront in World War I and More Knitting History: WWII. Women helped the war effort in many ways, knitting was just one.

I have been wanting to read this social history of knitting, No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting by Anne Macdonald on my eReader. Seems like this week might be when I finally read it. Another social history of knitting is The Loving Stitch: A History of Knitting and Spinning in New Zealand by Heather Nicolson looks like a great read as well. The books description calls it a "history of the domestic lives of women" just what we genealogists need to better understand our ancestor's lives.

To find records that involve knitting check out ArchiveGrid. They have listed over 700 records that include the keyword "knitting." JSTOR is another great place to look for social history articles on knitting.

Interested in more social history about knitting? You may want to look at this bibliography, Knitting: A Global History  by Charity Naeve Johnson.

Did you have female ancestors that knit? Think about sharing photos of them, their creations or even the patterns they used.


Mariann said...

You offer good resources -- histories and records. To me, knitting is an endearing occupation. I tried it in college, and my younger sister really got involved in knitting during her final illness. You make a good point -- I have no knowledge of my female ancestors and knitting. I could probably learn more about them by pursuing this line. Thanks!

Gena Philibert-Ortega said...

Hi Mariann-

I'm always looking for ideas for research, knitting and women seemed like a good fit to me. I was amazed at the records I found in just a short time. Of course, women also worked in knitting factories so that's yet another resource.

Thanks for commenting Mariann. I really appreciate it!

Gena said...

You always have such great ideas for your genealogy blogs . I would give anything right now to be around my Grandmother and her sister while they were crocheting/knitting after drying up the dishes after cooking a big family meal . Lots of family history in those " knitting talks "

Gena Philibert-Ortega said...

Thank you so much for your kind words. You are so right, there is so much family history in those casual moments when families are gathered.

Thanks for commenting and for reading my blogs!

Judy Weightman said...

Thanks for your shout-out to my blog!

Judy Weightman said...

Thanks for the shout-out to my blog! I just woke up from a nap under an afghan my aunt knitted for my mom, her little sister, so what you say about knitting being part of family history really resonates for me.

Gena Philibert-Ortega said...

Hi Judy,

I love your blog and the postings you had about knitting were great.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!