The Way We Worked: Hartland
The Way We Worked, a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition coordinated in Michigan by the Michigan Humanities Council, will be on display in Hartland at the Cromaine District Library. Admission to The Way We Worked exhibition is free of charge.
Adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, The Way We Worked draws from the Archives’ rich photographic collections to tell the story of work in American culture. Why, where and how we work? What value does work have to individuals and communities? What does our work tell others about us?
The exhibition uses graphics, audio components, photo flipbooks, film and numerous artifacts from history to share the story of our national workforce. In addition, the library will provide supplemental programming on the history of the local workforce. Visitors will also have the opportunity to take an interactive approach through Stories from Main Street – a website and accompanying phone application that make it easy to record and share small town memories.
“Hartland is uniquely fortunate to have the incredible history of having been a model Utopian community weaving productive work and cultural pursuits into the cohesive Hartland Area Project,” said Ceci Marlow, director of Cromaine District Library.
“Today, when many of our residents drive an hour one-way to work, and too many found themselves having ‘retired’ earlier than planned with less than hoped for due to dependence on a manufacturing economy, it is more important than ever to see this exhibit. We need to remember why we work, how we’ve worked through economic challenges before, and how much good we’ve accomplished not just locally, but globally, through our American work ethic. What a treasure for this community and all of Southeastern Michigan, as Cromaine partners with the Smithsonian and the Michigan Humanities Council for the exhibit and our extensive supportive events.”
About Work in Hartland
Hartland was a large farm community in the late 1800s to 1900s when J. Robert Crouse founded The Hartland Area Project in 1927. As an industrialist, J. Robert Crouse believed in associations for the public good, sharing the best ideas with his fellow inventors and industrialists. In Hartland he set about blending industry, music and the arts into self-directed cottage industry to enrich life for people in this community. By the late 1960s, a boom in this area’s population shifted the community from local farmers to commuters. Hartland became a bedroom community supplying auto industry and related firms with engineers, managers, office staff and workers. Due to the recent economic struggles, many of them and their children now wonder about work and its purpose. Portions of Crouse’s original project vision – Cromaine Library, the Hartland Music Hall, and Waldenwoods Resort – continue to serve today as centers for community enrichment. Crouse’s Hartland Area Project was based on a “social experiment that attempts to transfer ideals worked through industrial experience into rural life.” Telling the story of Crouse’s initial social entrepreneurship while experiencing this exhibit will bring the symbiotic relationship of work and quality of life into focus for today’s entrepreneurs, commuters and students.
Hartland Quick Facts
- The first purchase of land in what was to become Hartland Township was made in 1832.
- Born in Hartland, J. Robert Crouse moved away at age 14 and returned a retired millionaire ready to alter the future of Hartland.
- Between the 1930s and ’40s, Hartland was the country’s third largest hand weaving industry, serving more than 200 retail stores.
John Beck is serving as Michigan’s exhibition scholar, acting as the lead academic consultant for host communities and the Council. Beck is an associate professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University, and co-directs the “Our Daily Work, Our Daily Lives” program, which explores and presents the culture of workers in the workplace.
The Way We Worked has been made possible in Michigan by the Michigan Humanities Council - with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and CMU Public Broadcasting. The Way We Worked is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils across the country. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.