A strong and diverse local cabinetmaking community existed in North Alabama during the antebellum period. A brief overview of the region indicates that even before statehood, settlers and craftsmen were attracted to the area. Heavy migration via the Great Wagon Road west brought people from the neighboring states. Other people arrived from Europe and Africa. In large plantations, skilled slaves were often taught woodworking. Scores of woodworkers can be identified in the state censuses and newspaper advertisements. The lecture will focus on the work of specific cabinetmakers and groupings of furniture. Signed pieces of furniture made in Alabama are highlighted in color slides. Such examples serve as touchstones for attributing other similar pieces. Comparisons between high-style and country- made furniture are observed. Using primary documents such as antique maps, estate inventories, photographs and paintings, Lang depicts the rich and diverse traditions of the local cabinetmaking trade. To set the stage and involve audience participation, there will be a display table with show and tell items including antique woodworking tools, samples of woods and cabinetmaker’s design books. At conclusion a handout and discussion will be provided on the proper care of antique furniture.
A large screen for slide projections and a microphone are requested. A table will also be needed for display items.