The Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry will host an educational reception titled “Women’s Work: Textiles and the (Her)Stories They Tell” on Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. 

Women are not present in many written narratives, and until recently in the U.S. women’s valuable belongings could not pass reliably to daughters. 

This means students and scholars of Women’s History must innovate and compromise, learning through the material traces of women’s lives as much as through written word. 

Often textiles were the only way to pass on personal narratives, family traditions, advice, and identity through female lineage. 

When women could not speak loudly, publicly, openly, they could still communicate through fabric. Evidence of habits, travels, and financial standing can be discerned from the textiles left to us by previous generations: Structural seams in patches on quilts, whether and where there are sweat stains, how carefully a tear was repaired, mud on a hem, a cluster of scorch marks on the skirt, or tobacco in the pocket. 

This talk describes the role of sewing in a woman’s life through the early 20th century and revisits the importance of recycling by passing clothing to younger family members, modifying dresses from decades earlier to fit current style, using old clothing that is too worn to create quilts or to stuff other household items, and using scraps for toys. 

This event is free and part of the museum’s “First Friday” series of events that are hold monthly on the first Friday of the month. Each month has a different theme, entertainment, and information to share. 

The museum is located at the Seneca Falls Heritage and Tourism Center, 89 Fall St., Seneca Falls. For more information, visit or call (315) 568-1510.

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