The Home Needle: 19th Century Textiles from the Raynham Hall Collection
December 7, 2019 – March 1, 2020

Beautifying the home through tasteful forms of needlework was a practice that shaped the domestic roles and leisure activities of nineteenth-century women. In featuring over 40 objects from the museum’s collection, such as samplers, household textiles, costumes, and archival materials, this exhibition explores various kinds of plain and fancy needlework and how the custom was considered an essential component of a woman’s upbringing.

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Slavery in the Townsend Homestead

Over a decade of research has resulted in the identification of seventeen enslaved persons who, between the years 1755 and 1812, lived and labored in the house now known as Raynham Hall Museum.

There has yet to be discovered documentation to prove where the Townsends’ slaves resided, but smaller rooms and attics were typically used as quarters for slaves who were responsible for household tasks in northern states such as New York.  This February, for the first time, an upstairs bedroom at Raynham Hall will be interpreted as slave quarters, acknowledging the lives and legacy of these occupants of the house, whose numbers far outnumbered those of the Townsends themselves, but whose existence, until now, has been invisible to the visiting public.

The exhibit will include historical documents that shed light on the lives of these residents, as well as other local Oyster Bay slaves who regularly visited the house to make purchases on behalf of their owners. While so much is unknown about the details of their everyday lives, their struggles, and whether they eventually gained their freedom, by making a place for them within the house, Raynham Hall Museum strives to inform the public and honor the lives of these members of our historic community whose stories have remained untold for too long.