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Brooms in the Appalachian Artifacts Collection

Selected brooms and broom-making-related artifacts as documented by Student Curators in 2015

Berea “Hearthsweep” Hearth Broom 1993.12.1

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Style: Turkey Wing

Handle: Completely woven over a wooden core

Braid: Plain Weave

Maker: Berea College Broomcraft, Johnny Reed

Location: Kentucky, Madison County, Berea

String: Hemp

Length of handle: 17"

Length of bristles: 10"

Total length: 25 ½"

Source: Donation, Julie Sowell

Descriptive Notes: The wire is loose, but still maintains form. The hanging loop is broken in two. Bottom wrap around the braid is sliding down towards the broomcorn. The tag has fallen out and is kept separately. Tag is dirty, but not damaged. The faded side of the dyed portion of the broom suggests it was exposed to a light source. Braiding is in good condition.

Provenance Notes: Berea College has been making this style of broom since 1950, maintaining the design with only slight changes to colors and length. This blue dye appears similar to that used in the 1940s and 1950s. This broom can be dated to somewhere between 1950 and 1979 and was made by Johnny Reed.  Reed's signature of placing broomcorn on top of the wire of each bundle of broomcorn is present. Reed began making brooms at the age seventeen.  He became Director of Berea College Broomcraft in 1958 serving until the 1970s. 

Berea Fireplace Set Broom 1995.22.20 (c)

 

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Style: Flat

Handle: Wrought iron

Braid: Simple Weave

Maker: Berea College Broomcraft

Location: Kentucky, Madison County, Berea

String: Cotton String

Length of handle: 10"

Length of bristles: 10 ¾"

Total length: 22 ¾"

Source: Transfer, Physical Education Department

Descriptive Notes: The wrought iron handle is in excellent condition. The broom has a loop and a handle with a loop built in. Braiding is good. Tag was placed in backwards. Nail is present at the end of the string. Bristles look unused. Stitching in fine condition. Broomcorn is faded on one side indicating it was near a light source.

Provenance Notes: Made for use with the fireplace in the lounge of the Woods-Penniman Building on the Berea College Campus, completed and furnished in 1926.  At the time Woods-Penniman was the women's gymnasium.  The Berea College blacksmith made metal parts.

Berea “Roundtree” Whisk Broom 2004.28.1

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Style: Whisk

Handle:  Braided Broomcorn

Braid: Simple Weave

Maker: Berea College Broomcraft

Location: Kentucky, Madison County, Berea

String: Cotton String

Length of handle: 5 ½"

Length of bristles: 3"

Total length: 8 ½"

Source: Purchase

Descriptive Notes: Top of braid is missing stalks, revealing string and staple to keep the loop in. The braid is tight with mild discoloration, while the tag remains in good condition. Bristles appear to be in good shape.

Provenance Notes: This broom, made by Berea College Broomcraft, is a model named "Roundtree." Based off the Berea College Craft Catalogs, this specific Roundtree broom would have come from the late 1960s or early 1970s. This specific period is attributed for a unique color pattern of the stalks and its relatively small size.

Berea “Artcraft” Hearth Broom 1998.6.1

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Style: Round

Handle: Carved Walnut handle

Braid:  Simple Weave

Maker: Berea College Broomcraft

Location: Kentucky, Madison County, Berea

String: Cotton String

Length of handle: 14 ¼"

Length of bristles: 22"

Total length: 36"

Source: Donation, Julie Sowell

Descriptive Notes: The leather strap is missing. The handle’s finish is gone in some areas and there are cracks, cuts, and dents present as well. In the braid, the top nail is rusted. The braid itself is tight and sturdy. The tag is in good shape, but folded. The stitching is excellent. Broomcorn is lightly broken off in areas and light mold and dirt is present.

Provenance Notes: This broom, made by Berea College Broomcraft, is a model named "Artcraft." Johnny Reed generally cut the handles for Artcraft on the band saw.

Berea “Wisp” Whisk Broom 2006.8.1

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Style: Round

Handle: braided broomcorn

Braid: None

Maker: Berea College Broomcraft

Location: Kentucky, Madison County, Berea

String: Possibly Hemp or Jute

Length of handle: 5"

Length of bristles: 6 ¼"

Total length: 11"

Source: Purchase

Descriptive Notes: The top of the broom has a few small chips. Large gaps are present that show wire. The tag is cut at an angle. The bristles are in excellent condition.

Provenance Notes: This broom, made by Berea College Broomcraft, is a model named "Wisp." The wisp was made from the 1980 to 1990.

Berea “Witchbaby” Hearth Broom 2012.2.2

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Style: Round

Handle: Sassafras

Braid: None

Maker: Berea College Broomcraft

Location: Kentucky, Madison County, Berea

String: None, Raffia

Length of handle: 7 ¾"

Length of bristles: 13 ¼"

Total length: 21"

Source: Transfer, College Relations

Descriptive Notes: This broom remains in good condition. Bark is cracking off at top and throughout handle. The nails and wire are rusted. The Berea College tag is dirty and folded in half. A small portion of corn is broken off in places throughout bristles.

Provenance Notes: This broom, made by Berea College Broomcraft, is a model named "Witchbaby." This Witchbaby uses raffia, not ribbon, and the tag is older. It is most likely from the 1940s or 1950s.

Berea “Fanspread” Hearth Broom 2015.36.5

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Style: Eagle Wing

Handle: Sassafras

Braid: Simple Weave

Maker: Berea College Broomcraft

Location: Kentucky, Madison County, Berea

String: Hemp

Length of handle: 22 ½"

Length of bristles: 16 ¾"

Total length: 38"

Source: Transfer, Loyal Jones Appalachian Center Faculty Offices

Descriptive Notes: Original leather strap is missing and has been replaced by string.  A few parts of the bark are missing. There are gaps in the head of the braid that reveals string beneath. The hemp is dirty and the wirework is loose. There is fading on the tag side, suggesting light exposure. 

Provenance Notes: This broom, made by Berea College Broomcraft, is a model named "Fanspread." These types of brooms were produce from 1989 to 1992. The cut off tag indicates it was a second. For about 25 years this item hung as decoration in Appalachian Center faculty offices.

Berea “Witchcraft” Hearth Broom 2015.16.1

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Style: Round

Handle: Sassafras

Braid: None

Maker: Berea College Broomcraft

Location: Kentucky, Madison County, Berea

String: None, raffia

Length of handle: 20 ½"

Length of bristles: 17"

Total length: 37 ½"

Source: Donation, Steve and Paula Colburn

Descriptive Notes: There is a hole for hanging. The handle is in good shape, but the nail and wire are rusted. The tag is slightly dirty. Some of the broomcorn has broken off. Bristles are bent near the bottom at an angle. Broomcorn is faded on one side suggesting light exposure. 

Provenance Notes: This broom, made by Berea College Broomcraft, is a model named "Witchcraft."  This example uses uses raffia, later versions use ribbon.  Bent bristles and fading suggest this sat on display, perhaps near a fireplace, for a long time.

Berea “Fantail” Hearth Broom 2010.8.1

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Style: Turkey Wing

Handle: Broomcorn braid

Braid: Plain Weave

Maker: Berea College Broomcraft

Location: Kentucky, Madison County, Berea

String: Hemp

Length of handle: 2 ½"

Length of bristles: 12 ½"

Total length: 15"

Source:  Purchase

Descriptive Notes: This broom is in overall great condition. The string at the head is showing and the wire working is loose.

Provenance Notes: This broom, made by Berea College Broomcraft, is a model named "Fantail." The fantail style of this broom is one of the oldest styles of brooms made by Berea College. It has gone through many variations throughout the years. This fantail appears to have been made in 1970 based off the stripped braid, length, and color of bristles.

Berea “Corncane” Hearth Broom 2012.23.1

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Style: Bundle

Handle: Stick covered in river cane

Braid: Cane

Maker: Berea College Broomcraft

Location: Kentucky, Madison County, Berea

String: None

Length of handle: 19 ½"

Length of bristles:13"

Total length: 32 ½"

Source: Purchase

Descriptive Notes: The string to hang the broom is missing. In the middle of the handle, a portion of the cane is missing. The rest of handle has various scrapes and dents, while the broomcorn is broken off in places. The side with the tag is slightly faded, suggesting it was hung near a light source.

Provenance Notes: This broom, made by Berea College Broomcraft, is a model named "Corncane." Based off the color of the corn and older version of the tag, the broom is from the 1940s or 1950s.

Berea “Artcraft” Hearth Broom 2005.53.1

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Style: Round

Handle: Carved Walnut handle

Braid:  Simple Weave

Maker: Berea College Broocraft

Location: Kentucky, Madison County, Berea

String: Cotton String

Length of handle: 14 ½"

Length of bristles: 25 ½"

Total length: 39"

Source: Purchase

Descriptive Notes: The handle has cracks, cuts, and dents. In the braid, the top nail is rusted and loose. Many portions of stalks are broken off on one side of the braid. Braid remains in good shape. The tag is in good condition. There are gaps near the knuckles revealing string. Stitching is slightly loose, but otherwise good. The broomcorn is lightly broken off in areas. Bristles are angled, suggesting usage, and light mold and dirt is present.

Provenance Notes: This broom, made by Berea College Broomcraft, is a model named "Artcraft." Johnny Reed generally cut the handles for Artcrafts on a band saw until his retirement.