EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


August 22, 2013

'The Way We Worked' honors hard work Americans have done

Smithsonian exhibit on American workers' history comes to city

HAVERHILL — If you can’t get to the Smithsonian Institution for a tour, don’t worry.

It’s coming to you — at least part of it.

The Buttonwoods Museum/Haverhill Historical Society will explore the professions and workers who sustain American society when it hosts “The Way We Worked,” a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit. The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., is the world’s largest research and museum complex.

“The Way We Worked” is a collection of dozens of images from the National Archives spanning the years 1857 to 1987. It celebrates the history of work in America and tells the stories of hard-working people of every ethnic group, class, gender and age.

The exhibit will visit only two Massachusetts communities — Haverhill and Lynn.

The exhibit will be shown at the Buttonwoods Museum starting Saturday and running through Oct. 6. The museum will also present “The Way Haverhill Worked,” a collection of local images focusing on city businesses such as Fantini Bakery.

“It’s significant that the Smithsonian chose the Buttonwoods Museum as one of only two sites in Massachusetts for this traveling exhibition,” said Haverhill historian Jay Cleary, president of the Buttonwoods Museum.

For most people, shoe manufacturing comes to mind when they think of how Haverhill people worked over the years. But the local exhibit will explore many other Haverhill industries past and present, including Mason & Hamlin, which moved to Haverhill in 1989. Of the hundreds of American piano companies that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mason & Hamlin is one of only a few that survive today.

Fantini Bakery in the Mount Washington neighborhood has been in Haverhill since 1905. Other businesses that will be featured include Chaucer Leather, which is still in operation, as well as Barrett’s Menswear and the original Macy’s store, neither of which are still operating.

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