Work Basket, Sapelo Island, Georgia, 1850-1900

Work Basket, Sapelo Island, Georgia, 1850-1900

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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 1680s, rice began to be grown on the coast. By the mid-1700s, rice became the dominant cash crop for the region. Plantation owners wanted enslaved people from West Africa who already knew the complicated process required for growing rice. The work of these enslaved Africans made the Carolina rice planters the richest planters in the American colonies. The distinctive cultures that West African people brought included the knowledge of how to make coiled grass baskets for a variety of uses. This bulrush work basket was made on Sapelo Island, Georgia, sometime between 1850 and 1900. On the Sea Islands, the primary crop was very soft and expensive cotton, known as “Sea Island Cotton.” Rice was grown only for local consumption along with potatoes and other vegetables.
Object Name
Physical Description
fiber, plant (overall material)
grass, swamp (overall material)
coiled (overall production method/technique)
overall: 6.5 cm x 35 cm x 35 cm; 2 9/16 in x 13 25/32 in x 13 25/32 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg
African American
See more items in
Cultural 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
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