Work Basket, Sapelo Island, Georgia, 1850-1900

The Lowcountry (coastal) region of the Carolinas and Georgia and the nearby Atlantic Sea Islands were and continue to be home to a distinctive regional African American culture that is now recognized as the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. By the mid-1700s, rice became the dominant cash crop and plantation owners wanted enslaved people from West Africa who already knew how to cultivate rice. The work of these enslaved Africans made the Carolina rice planters the richest planters in the American colonies. The West African peoples knew how to make coiled grass baskets for a variety of use. They innovated the method by using materials similar to those at home in their new environment. This bulrush work basket was made on Sapelo Island, Georgia, sometime between 1850 and 1900. At one time, baskets like these were common on working farms on the coast and in fancy homes around Savannah, but today baskets from the 1800s are very rare.
Physical Description
fiber, plant (overall material)
grass, swamp (overall material)
coiled (overall production method/technique)
overall: 12 cm x 36 cm x 36 cm; 4 23/32 in x 14 3/16 in x 14 3/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg
African American
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ethnic
Many Voices, One Nation
Many Voices, One Nation
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History