The Art of Homesteading
This exhibit explores the variety of arts, skills, and
tools needed for homesteading. Traditional skills
live on in modern artists and craftspeople across
the country. Many of these are being practiced today
To begin with, we must look at the different definitions of the term “homesteading.” Historically, it meant the act of claiming public land for farming, inhabiting and improving it, then gaining outright possession of the land after a certain period of time. Before the town of
The Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged the migration of people westward throughout the
Anyone who had never taken up arms against the
This act gave each applicant freehold title to as much as 160 acres of undeveloped federal land, outside the original 13 colonies. The Homestead Act required three steps: file an application, improve the land, and file for deed of title.
In order to build a home, provide for themselves or their families, and make a living, a “homesteader” had a great deal of work to do. They had to possess many tools and skills to accomplish the numerous tasks required of them. In this exhibit we will examine what it meant to be a homesteader and what was necessary to survive and prosper under these harsh conditions. The notion of going into the wilderness with “only an axe and a gun” to claim a homestead is a misconception.