Thesis I -Week 5 more research, getting to the good stuff!

I am researching the history of PA Dutch kitsch designs from the 1930's-1980's. When I consider the history of how poorly treated and viewed the PA Dutch were in their early years up through Anti-German hysteria, it amazes me how within the same century (20th), we were hated, then our culture was appropriated and mangled, massed produced patterns and illustrations were extremely popular between the 1930's-1980's. How could the same country hate us so much and suddenly we are a novelty? And even more interesting, throughout all of these ups and downs, our people maintain our traditional folk arts and crafts and continued to honor our traditional motifs and designs from Germany. I say resiliency, but I am so fascinated by the ability for PA Dutch people to keep so much of our culture intact, through all of this.

Within my thesis introduction, I am giving a brief history of PA Dutch people. I am trying to write a short history of their experience of Anti-German hysteria, and targeted propaganda. I have heard many first hand accounts (barn burnings, language restrictions, harassment, ridicule, etc.), but looking for resources. Many of the things I have found speak of broader German-American experiences but not specifically PA Dutch experiences.

This week I had the pleasure to discuss my research Candace K. Perry, Curator of Collections at The Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center. She gave me the advice to try using Newspapers.com to find evidence of PA Dutch patterns and fabrics within advertisements. She was right on target! I went home and was able to find hundreds of advertisements from 1930's-1980's for these products! I was surprised at how widely sold these patterns were from PA-CA. Very important breakthrough this week for my research and supportive resources. Thank you Candace!

Barb Esterly and Zach Langley also let me borrow some wonderful books for resources.


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