Return to Bibliography
Glassie, Henry H. Folk Housing in Middle Virginia: A Structural Analysis of Historic Artifacts. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1975.
Henry Glassie's classic book presents a picture of eighteenth and nineteenth century houses in the Gum Springs and Orchard communities in Louisa and Goochland Counties between Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia. At the time of publication (1975), the book was a pioneer in that it sought to show the importance of "folk" or vernacular architecture within the historical record. The author charges that the builders of the folk houses in this study shared common ideas about how to build houses, and that the common ideas could be manipulated according to specific wants or needs. He also discusses the move from a community mindset to one that is more individualistic. Glassie builds a strong argument for the use of artifacts in historical research, but there are few other types of evidence offered and this is a distinct weakness of the study; i.e., the reader is left asking why Glassie did not interview more current inhabitants or community members for insight into the history and beliefs of individual and community members. In addition, one wishes that Glassie would have further explored the houses within a social and cultural context; i.e., what parts of the community inhabited these houses (in terms of race, class, gender, etc.), and how does this contribute to the understanding of the community or Virginian society? Glassie's lack of outside sources serves as a useful reminder to researchers that different types of models, methods, and research should be throughly investigated and incorporated into research to provide a comprehensive and well-rounded report. [E. Martin]