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Special Exhibit: The Way We Worked

January 15

Dates: October 30, 2021 – January 23, 2022
Location: Special Exhibits Gallery, Birthplace of Country Music Museum
Museum Hours: Closed Mondays, Tue.-Sat. 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sun. 1:00 pm. – 5:00 p.m.

The Way We Worked explores how work became such a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years. The diversity of the American workforce is one of its strengths, providing an opportunity to explore how people of all races and ethnicities identified commonalities and worked to knock down barriers in the professional world. The exhibition shows how we identify with work – as individuals and as communities.

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum (an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution) has created a supplementary display related to work in Bristol and the Tri-Cities region from major manufacturing and resource extraction (e.g. coal, timber) to retail, food services, farming, local industry, and the local newspaper. Special thanks to several organizations, businesses, and individuals who loaned images and object for this display, including the Archives of the City of Kingsport, Black in Appalachia, Bristol Herald Courier, Bristol Historical Association, Buchanan County Historical Society, Tim Buchanan, Eastman,  Helms Candy Company, Ruth King, Jack Pierce, Tom Rogers, and Strongwell.

The Way We Worked, an exhibition created by the National Archives, is adapted for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and made possible with the generous support of the United States Congress.

Special thanks to the Massengill-DeFriece Foundation for their support of the exhibit at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.


The Way We Worked presents a wonderful educational opportunity for local and regional schools, ties in well to state standards and curricula through engaging content. Teachers can contact Erika Barker at ebarker@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org to find more about booking in-person and virtual tours of this exhibit. 

Public programming will be scheduled to go along with this exhibit – you can find out more on our website.


January 15
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