Acquisition No.: 2014-08P
Title: Photograph; Barn Raising.
Item History:

This unusual barn raising photograph was retrieved from the George and Mary Kuhn attic on 5/22/14. Whether the construction site is that of the Kuhn farm at Bonneauville or a nearby structure is unknown. The photograph beautifully typifies the level of community support at that time.

Both this photo and the its empty frame were found in the Kuhn collection. The two were combined at a later date.

Barn raising was a work event that combined socializing with a practical goal. The raising fulfilled a practical need and also serves to tie the community together, reinforcing society through an expression of mutual aid. Here (100) men pose after the framework was completed. The raising effort, (now mostly attributed to the Amish) was once a cross-cultural common practice.

Occasionally, there was a need for a new barn to be built in a community. A new farmer may be starting up farming. Sometimes disaster struck and a barn would burn down. Community members were committed to helping one another and they put that belief into practice when constructing a new barn.

Barn raisings require organization, supplies, and labor. The projects were typically led by one or two "masters" who lay out plans for the barn and make sure that all materials are available. All labor except perhaps the master's, was contributed for free. Each individual knew that they too may be in need of the community's help one day.

Typically the stones and cement used in the foundation were laid before the day of the actual raising, allowing the mortar time to dry and set. On the day of the barn raising, men arrived early. The master organized the men, gave instructions on jobs, and oversaw the whole event. Barns like this example were traditionally constructed using wood-peg mortise and tenon joint construction.

Barn raisings involved the whole community. Men assembled materials and raised walls as young boys performed whatever tasks they could handle. Women kept the refreshments and meals flowing.

Despite the common belief that the whole job was completed in one day, it took a week or more from start to finish. However, the wood frame structure shown in this photograph usually went up in one day.

Location: Wall
Acq. Date: 5/22/14
Acquired from: Mary Esther Kuhn
Type: collection
Curator: ckrc