Smithsonian exhibit “The Way We Worked” comes to Marlinton
Imagine working in a coal mine. Or in a steel mill. Or on a log run down the Greenbrier River.
Work and workplaces have gone through enormous transformations between the mid 19th and late 20th centuries. You can view these changes through dozens of photographs held by the National Archives and Records Administration. The Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit, “The Way We Worked” is coming to Marlinton this fall from September 10 to October 22 and will be housed at the Municipal Building for the six week stint.
With busy hands and minds American workers perform a diverse array of jobs to power our society. Work is part of nearly every American’s life, whether for professional satisfaction and personal growth or to ensure the well-being of their families. “The Way We Worked,” adapted from the original exhibition developed by the National Archives, explores how work became such a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years. The exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich collections to tell this compelling story.
The diversity of the American workforce is one of its strengths, providing an opportunity to explore how people of all races and ethnicities identified commonalities and worked to knock down barriers in the professional world. The exhibition shows how we identify with work—as individuals and as communities.
The distinctiveness of America’s workforce was shaped by many factors—immigration and ethnicity, slavery and racial segregation, wage labor and technology, gender roles, class, as well as ideals of freedom and equality. Most importantly, these images honor those who built this country—the working men and women of America.
Local sponsors of the exhibit are the Pocahontas County Free Libraries and the Pocahontas Historical Society. The groups completed a grant application to West Virginia Humanities Council last fall and were awarded in January one of only six sites for the exhibit in West Virginia.
Local sponsors develop their own version of work in their region and for Pocahontas groups it is the logging industry and most particularly, when it was at its heyday the early 1900s. This won’t be like any museum exhibit you’ve seen before…this exhibit includes live concerts by the Bing Brothers, Bill Hefner and Family and John Wyatt and the Appalachians; a centennial tribute to poet laureate of West Virginia Louise McNeill Pease; award-winning films, a wood chopping exhibition by world renowned wood choppers the Cogar Family from Webster County, and dozens of other events and programs.