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Oak-Rod Baskets in Brown County, Indiana: Historic Photographs of a Craft Tradition

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Jon Kay

Published May 2014 in International Oaks No. 25: 85–92


The Hovis and Bohall families of Brown County, Indiana, made distinctive white-oak (Quercus alba L.) baskets for their neighbors to gather corn and carry everyday items. However, by the 1930s, the interest of urban tourists transformed these sturdy containers into desirable souvenirs. Using historic photographs, this brief essay explores the shifts in the uses and meanings of these handmade objects: when this type of basket became obsolete as agricultural implement, it became a symbol for the County and its residents who many outsiders viewed as simple and quaint. While tourism encouraged the tradition to continue for a time, by the 1980s the making of oak-rod baskets had disappeared in Brown County.


Quercus alba L.


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