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Virtual Lecture - John Shaw, Annapolis Cabinetmaker

Date: Thursday, October 1, 2020

Location: Zoom Virtual Lecture

Time: 7 pm - 8 pm

If you’ve visited a historic house museum in Annapolis, you’ve likely been introduced to the work of our city’s most famous cabinetmaker, John Shaw. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Shaw quickly established himself as the go-to furniture-maker for wealthy patrons in and around Annapolis, building and repairing pieces for noteworthy residents including William Paca, James Brice, and Charles Carroll. Examples of Shaw’s work can be found in museums and historic homes up and down the East Coast—from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in North Carolina—and there is even a Shaw piece in the White House!
Though he is a famous figure in Annapolis history today, John Shaw’s success was not inevitable. Artisans in early Annapolis often struggled to make ends meet, and many left the city for more stable work in Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and further afield. In this lecture, presenter Bethany McGlyn will share the fascinating story of Shaw’s ascent from immigrant laborer to prolific artisan, revolutionary, and community leader. She will discuss how Shaw relied on enslaved and servant labor and how state patronage supplemented his cabinetmaking income, setting the stage for his professional success and continued legacy.

Registration required.

Cost: $15 per household for General Admission; $10 per household for HA Members and Volunteers


This lecture will be offered virtually by Zoom, an online video conferencing platform. Upon registration, you will be sent the link for the video conference to join on the evening of the lecture. If you do not receive your confirmation email after you register, please check your Spam folder, or email Carolyn Fifer at To learn more about Zoom and to download the app to your computer, visit the Zoom website.

About our Presenter: Bethany J. McGlyn is a historian and curator who specializes in labor, landscape, and material culture in the early American South. She recently received her M.A. from the University of Delaware and the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. Her M.A. thesis, “Who Built the City on the Severn? Slavery, Material Culture, and Landscapes of Labor in early Annapolis,” foregrounds the lives of enslaved artisans and documents their work throughout the city. Prior to her M.A., Bethany studied history and art history at Towson University where she graduated with the Sander Senior Prize in History. She has lectured and presented research on topics from the material culture of the English abolitionist movement to Maryland backcountry furniture, and has received grants, awards, and fellowships from Winterthur, the Decorative Arts Trust, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Vernacular Architecture Forum, and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. Bethany began her career in curatorial departments at Historic Annapolis and Hampton National Historic Site and currently works as the Sewell C. Biggs Curatorial Fellow at Winterthur.


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