Catawba County News

Smithsonian Exhibition Exploring the American Workforce Coming to Newton

Smithsonian Exhibition Exploring the American Workforce Coming to Newton

Published: August 09, 2018

From the Historical Association of Catawba County:

What would life be like without teachers, doctors or firefighters? Every day Americans are hard at work on farms, factories, in homes or at desks keeping our communities thriving. The Historical Association of Catawba County (HACC), in cooperation with the North Carolina Humanities Council (NCHC), will explore the professions and the people that sustain American society when it hosts “The Way We Worked,” a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition. “The Way We Worked” will be on view August 10 through September 18.  

The Catawba County History Museum and the surrounding community have been expressly chosen by the North Carolina Humanities Council to host “The Way We Worked” as part of the Museum on Main Street project—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition will tour six communities in North Carolina during the 2018 calendar year.

“The Way We Worked,” adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives and Records Administration, explores how work has become a central element in American culture. It traces the many changes that have affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years, including the growth of manufacturing and increasing use of technology. The exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich collections, including historical photographs, archival accounts of workers, film, audio and interactives, to tell the compelling story of how work impacts our individual lives and the historical and cultural fabric of our communities. 

“We are very pleased to be able to bring “The Way We Worked” to our area,” said Sybil Baird Stewart, HACC President of the Board of Trustees. “It allows us the opportunity to explore this fascinating aspect of our own region’s history, and we hope that it will inspire many to become even more involved in the cultural life of our community.” 

“Allowing all of our state’s residents to have access to the cultural resources of our nation’s premiere museum is a priority of the North Carolina Humanities Council,” said Paula Watkins, NCHC Executive Director. “With this special tour, we are pleased to be working with partners in Catawba County to help develop local exhibitions and public programs to complement the Smithsonian exhibition.”

Such free events include:

  • August 11, 10 a.m. “Tools of Our Trade” student documentaries premiere and HACC annual membership meeting in the original 1924 courtroom. Sponsored by Stories: YES and the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program.
  • August 11, 2 p.m. “Veterans Round Table” during which veterans of each international conflict from (and including) World War II will discuss their experiences returning to the U.S.A. in the original 1924 courtroom. In partnership with Abernethy Laurels Retirement Community.
  • August 25, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. & August 26, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. “A Courthouse Drama” living history of the 1934 textile mill labor debate on the Square in Newton and in the Museum. In partnership with the Old Post Office Playhouse.
  • September 8, 6 p.m. “Mill Ballads” performed by Hunter Holmes on the Eastside Museum lawn. Sponsored by NCHC and the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program.

“The Way We Worked” is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation and local host institutions. Museum on Main Street is made possible in North Carolina by the North Carolina Humanities Council. To learn more about “The Way We Worked” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit, and click on “The Way We Worked,” from the “Exhibitions” menu.