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Tool chests

Thursday 6 June 2002
The look of tool chests can tell us much about workers and workplaces. While their purpose is to organize, carry, and protect tools, these chests also suggest what workers think of themselves and how society measures the value of their work.

See this online exhibition of tool chests on display at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. See the portable tool kits of various occupations: cabinetmaker, circumciser, farrier, gentleman woodworker, machinist, needleworker, piano maker, shoe shiner, office machine technician, uphosterer, and urologist. The oldest dates from the 1810s (cabinetmaker's chest), and the newest from the 1990s (technician's tool case).

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