Celebrating 70 Years (Give or Take)

Celebrating 70 Years (Give or Take)

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Aileen Osborn Webb celebrating her birthday.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of American Craft magazine, a public voice of the American Craft Council, which is celebrating along with us.

Actually, the origins of both entities are a little more complicated.

American Craft magazine began life in 1941 as an unnamed, 27-page newsletter, published by the Handcraft Cooperative League of America, led by Aileen Osborn Webb. (That group incorporated in 1939, but traces its genesis, with Webb as a prime mover, to 1929.) "The most important news in the first issue ... noted the imminent merger of the two national groups," Webb says in her memoirs; she was speaking of the 1942 union of Webb's group with the American Handcraft Council, led by Anne Morgan, her friend. (That's Webb, above, celebrating a birthday in a 1967 photo.)

The new entity was called the American Craftsmen's Cooperative Council Inc. (ACCC). That group issued a publication in the spring of 1942; its name, Craft Horizons, was suggested by artist Maginel Wright Barney, sister of Frank Lloyd Wright. The magazine remained Craft Horizons until 1979, when it became known as American Craft.

Still with us? In May 1943, New York state granted a charter to the American Craftsmen's Educational Council Inc. (ACEC), to provide educational programming in "handcrafts." Later that year, America House, a retail outlet in New York City, moved to Madison Avenue, and provided space for the expanding activities of the ACCC and ACEC. The two arms ultimately merged, and the name evolved into its present form in 1979.

The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

However you calculate this history, the beginnings of American Craft date back 70 years, when it heralded the news of what became the American Craft Council. This year, the ACC, which can point to any number of years as its starting point, is celebrating both the magazine and its own inception.

The Council will mark this anniversary with special craft-inspired cakes on display at the St. Paul show, April 15 - 17, and the San Francisco show, August 12 - 14. Also, look for a commemorative "70 Years of Making" timeline in our August/September issue.

If you're in town for the St. Paul show and love a good preview party, come help us celebrate Thursday night, April 14. For details, visit craftcouncil.org/stpaul

Pamela Diamond is director of marketing and communications for the American Craft Council.