Clothesline Historian to Present at Ann Arbor Library April 28

Anne Lawrence, Clothesline Historian and Hobbyist, will be presenting at the Ann Arbor (Pittsfield Branch) Library at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 28. It is free and open to all!  Her talk is titled: “The Love, Lure, and Lore of the Clothesline.”

“This is my first time presenting at an Ann Arbor Public Library, although I spoke at the Saline District Library a while back,” described Lawrence. “I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to speak at a forum that’s free and open to all, since most of my talks have been at private, closed venues, such as women’s clubs, church groups and assisted living facilities.”

In her talk, Anne addresses a wide-rage of topics connected to clotheslines such as customs in other countries, ethnic stereotypes in the laundry industry, socializing around the clothesline, economic factors, ecological issues, gender issues, and many other factors. For instance, it used to be that hanging clothes was one of the things that mothers taught their daughters.

“This presentation emerged from my conversations with the folks from the Museum on Main Street, which is operated and run by the Washtenaw County Historical Society,” explained Lawrence. “They arranged for me to speak at the Pittsfield Branch of the Ann Arbor Public Library.”

It is believed that clotheslines began to make their decline beginning in the 1950s with the arrival of indoor, electric dryers. But over the years, neighborhood associations and condominiums began to outlaw clotheslines as unaesthetic and even offensive to some.

It is told that during the Civil War, quilts were hung on clotheslines to indicate “safe houses” for slaves trying to gain their freedom. It is also believed that patterns of laundry have been used to transmit information during wartime.

“I hope those who come will enjoy looking back at the days when everyone hung their laundry out to dry in the fresh air — at least those of that age group!” stated Lawrence.  “And for those who never knew anything other than their automatic dryers, it’s a great chance to learn how things used to be for their mothers and grandmothers. And for the youngsters who may come, this may be brand new learning.  I’ve introduced my grandsons to using clothespins to hang clothes on lines, and they really enjoyed learning about it.”

Anne’s presentation has been described in a playful and entertaining manner, which is inviting for all.

“Do you remember hanging wash on your clothesline outdoors in the fresh air? Do you have fond memories from simpler times of laundry dancing in the breeze? Anne will display her collection of clothesline memorabilia, talk about the history of wash day, fun stories, poems, and share shy she feel the clothesline needs to come back!”

“C’mon, let’s hang out together!” She adds.


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