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Video Demonstrations of Early American Tools

Brief videos that show how these tools were used. The tools depicted here are common, everyday implements. Although some might be primarily used by one gender, all were used by enslaved or free people of any race in New England. For instance, in the Reverend Jonathan Ashley's account book are these entries:

"1758 Janry to Titus thrashing Corn a day"
"to Abijah Prince thrashing Rye a day"
It means that in January of 1758, Titus, who was a slave, and Abijah Prince, who was a free African American, both received credit for thrashing (or threshing) corn and rye for the reverend. In Edwin Nims' agricultural diary is this entry, which was entered on August 4th, in either 1830 or 1831:
"Hiram & Baxter Threshed Rye in the forenoon, afternoon they threshed wheat"
Hiram and Baxter were white men.

churning butter


a tool used to turn cream into butter
(file size: 17.1 MB)



a tool used to separate the seeds from the heads of dried grain
(file size: 6.6 MB)

winnowing basket

Winnowing Basket

a tool used to separate grain seeds from the "chaff" or seed coverings
(file size: 10 MB)


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