Loan Boxes

Loan boxes are free to check out. Fill out the online form below or call to reserve a loan box for a week (or more, for longer distances). Each with a different theme, boxes contain reproduction objects to touch, feel and use to better understand pioneer living and technology. Books and print materials expand on the topic. Combine loan boxes with visits to historic homes for more in-depth study.

The Arkansas Traveler is a story, a tune and a painting - all famous beyond our borders by the late 1850s. This box sheds light on all three, plus the image they gave the state. The painting shows at least 20 items a typical Arkansas pioneer family used every day: gourds, powder horn, coon skin cap, fiddle, axe, logs. This loan box contains replicas of all of them!

The book for young children, Charlie Needs a Cloak, inspired this box, which contains replicas of most items illustrated in the book. It is a lesson in sheep and wool and how the wool is washed, carded, dyed, spun, woven and made into a new cloak for Charlie the shepherd. Arkansas pioneers went through the same process to have wool for their mittens.

A day in the pioneer kitchen - from milking and gathering eggs to churning butter, having tea, cooking, setting the table and washing the dishes - is contained in this box.

Arkansas pioneers used lighting techniques that had hardly changed from ancient times. They hit flint and steel for a spark and burned oil-soaked reeds for a tiny flame. Over time their candles and candle holders gained sophistication. All of this technology is illustrated in this loan box, which has handbooks for how to make a candle the old way.

This box explores Arkansas's musical symbols: the fiddle, the square dance and the Arkansas Traveler tune. With DVDs and recordings, students can see a dance, and learn to do it; see a fiddle being played, and hear its history; and see a typical string band and learn how pioneers kept time with music. Students can play the spoons, jug, washboards and gourds that are included.

Arkansas pioneers made their homes, their meals and their clothing from the forest's trees and berries, their crops, wild and domestic animals, even the bees. This box has examples of the original resources - like a cow's horn - and the things that came from it, like a canteen, powder horn, and horn cup and spoon. Reuse and recycle is nothing new!

This is a little of everything that showed up in a pioneer's life, rather than a concentration on one topic. Themes touched upon include lighting, textiles, school, play and corn.

In the Arkansas Slave Narratives, a collection of interviews with former Arkansas slaves about their life before freedom, men and women mention objects that were part of their lives, like a grass-stuffed mattress, an old shoe, an eating trough, their dolls, the music they remember. The items in the box are documented in these memories. The quotations are included.

Because of The Middle Passage, Arkansas eventually became a slave state. The box's objects, posters and books illuminate three themes: life in Africa, life aboard a slave ship and life ways that came with the Africans, reestablished in the new world. This includes drumming, swept yards and cooking styles. Some materials are from the exhibit The Henrietta Marie, A Slave Ship Speaks.

Pioneers did not have to weave everything from scratch, but they did spin thread to satisfy their needs. Their thread came from fibers they grew - flax and cotton - plus silkworms and sheep. The process to get those fibers from the original state to something they could wear is explored in this box which has the fibers, the wool cards, drop spindles, little looms and more.

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