Craft Center FAQs

What to Expect, How to Prepare:

1.   What will I see at the Craft Center?

2.   Who will I meet at the Craft Center?

3.   What can I buy at the Craft Center Museum Shop?

Frequently Asked Historical Questions:

4.   Did the Pilgrims make everything they needed themselves?

5.   Why isn't anyone in the English Village making baskets or pottery?

6.   How did the Pilgrims acquire their manufactured goods?

7.   How do you know what sorts of goods were brought from England?

 

What to Expect and How to Prepare:

1. What will I see at the Craft Center?  

The Craft Center serves as the source of many of the reproduction objects that furnish the Pilgrim Village, Wampanoag Homesite and Mayflower II exhibits. The Craft Center features demonstrations by artisans throughout the day, a museum shop and restrooms. Outside the building there is a work area with a traditional wood-fired kiln used to fire pottery. 

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2. Who will I meet at the Craft Center?  

At the Craft Center you can talk with modern artisans about their projects. They use many of the same techniques, materials and tools used by English and Native artisans 400 years ago. They are not playing the roles of historical people (like you will find in the 17th-Century English Village). The knowledgeable museum shop staff can also answer many questions about Plimoth Plantation.

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3. What can I buy at the Craft Center Museum Shop?   

Many of the items made in the Craft Center are available for purchase. The museum shop at the Craft Center has a selection of clay dishes, bowls and cups, glasses, and other fine reproduction items for sale as well as related books and media.

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Frequently Asked Historical Questions:

4. Did the Pilgrims make everything they needed themselves?  

No. One of the many myths of the Pilgrim era is that every family was self-sufficient and made everything they needed from scratch. Yet that was not the case for most English people in the 17th century. In large cities like London as well as small country towns, people purchased furniture from a joiner, earthenware from a potter, clothing from a tailor, and many other essential goods from the skilled local tradesmen who made them.

However, in Plymouth Colony, there weren't any practicing local tradesmen from whom to purchase goods. Most of the Pilgrims had been farm laborers, but even the few who had practiced trades back in England could not do so in Plymouth. They were too busy providing for the basic needs of food and shelter. Manufactured goods such as clothing, furniture and other items were purchased in England and sent to the colony aboard ships.

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5. Why isn't anyone in the English Village making baskets or pottery?  

None of those items were being made by the Pilgrims in the early years of Plymouth Colony; baskets, pottery and other items were made in England or Europe and imported to New England.

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6. How did the Pilgrims acquire their manufactured goods?  

Manufactured goods, such as furniture, clothing, bedding, and cookware, were acquired in several ways. Some of the items were brought over with individual families, stored in the holds of ships from Mayflower onward. Other necessities were sent over for the town as a whole, arriving about once a year, if at all. The colonists also traded with Native People for furs, which were then sold in England or traded for English goods from passing ships.

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7. How do you know what sorts of goods were brought from England?  

Plimoth Plantation staff members examine documents written by the English colonists to determine what items were commonly imported from England. Probate inventories and provisions lists are two very useful sources. A probate inventory is a list of a person's possessions made after his/her death to ensure payment of debts and the orderly and fair division of property among heirs. Provisions lists include records of items sent to America by colonial organizers as well as published suggestions and checklists of what the well-equipped colonist should bring.

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Three-Handled Cup

Made at Plimoth Plantation by master potters, the multi-handled cup is a common style of the 17th-century.

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Handmade Joined Chest

The Craft Center joiner makes furniture from oak, pine, ash and maple timbers, among others.

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