Company's Coming!: Artifacts and Rituals of Early New England Parlors

Laurie Nivison's picture
April 2, 2016
United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Social History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

The New England parlor, designed for the reception and entertainment of visitors, communicated the social position and aspirations of the family.  No other space received as much concentrated attention and economic outlay in its decoration, design, and furnishings. The use of parlors gradually evolved over the 18th century. Beginning as multipurpose spaces for sleeping, cooking, working, and eating, by the end of the century only the dining and entertaining functions remained. The goal of a well-furnished parlor was to impress guests through a display of possessions, while providing a center for refined activities and rituals such as tea drinking, card playing, dancing, and above all, conversation. This one-day forum at Historic Deerfield brings together a diverse group of historians and curators to focus on the material culture and functions of the New England parlor, including issues of refinement, wealth, consumerism, power, and gender.

Contact Info: 

Julie Orvis

Historic Deerfield, Inc.

PO Box 321

Deerfield, MA 01342