Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 15, 2014

Student seeks 20th century artifacts from rural women

By DONNA SCHILL CLEVELAND, Ledger staff writer | Dec 07, 2012

A Purdue University doctoral candidate is bound for Fairfield in the new year on an unusual quest: to find vestiges of the lives of rural women originating between 1935 and 1985 .

Abby Stephens is seeking out everyday items like diaries, recipe collections, and minutes from 4-H meetings, Church auxiliary groups in order to understand change in the lives of 20th century Midwestern women.

Stephens may have hit the jackpot when contacting Mark Shafer, curator of the Carnegie Historical Museum. In response to her inquiry, Shafer has sifted through his collections, unearthing 1930s and 1940s calendars from Polishville, Brighton and East Pleasant Plain, a grandmother, granddaughter collection from the Lockridge and New Sweden area, a “Good Cheer Club” quilt, scrap books of news clippings and even a collection of paper party napkins from the 1950s.

“She’s looking for quirky, almost throw away stuff,” he said. “Things that tell about the lives of rural women, what makes them tick.”

Stephens plans to visit Fairfield within the next couple of months and welcomes access to a wide range of artifacts relevant to rural women in the half-century covered by her research. Shafer said anyone with similar items to share should contact the museum at 472-6343.

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