The artifacts in this project are part of collections selected by Sarah Phillips, the curatorial registrar at the Idaho State Historical Museum, but the essays on each genre of craft, as well as the vast majority of photos on the site, were created by students in the course Women in America: The Western Experience at Boise State University during spring 2012.

Students worked in small groups on each genre of craft:


  • Monica Church
  • Dan Foote
  • Julie Kirk
  • Kyle Sam
  • Tekinah Sanders


  • Vanessa Alvarez
  • Tori Macklin
  • Sterling Swafford
  • Debra Torres
  • Rebecca Watson


  • Jon Agnew
  • Courtney Gallant
  • Tori Lee
  • Alisa Thompson


  • Leslie Madsen-Brooks (instructor)
  • Kelly Morgan


  • Alex Degiulio
  • Susie Depew
  • Lee Gray


  • Kristin Barrier
  • Jacke’lle Knickrehm
  • Cory Montgomery
  • Rebecca Morgan
  • Layne Wynn

Plein Air Painting

  • Matt Lucich
  • Darin McIntyre
  • Tre Nichols
  • Brady Potter
  • Gaby Thomason


  • Irene Anderson
  • Martina Ashman
  • Joyanna Galan
  • Melissa Jensen
  • Alicia Weaver


  • Philip Browning
  • Briana Cornwall
  • Sarah McIsaac
  • Rachel VanNote
  • Jolee Thomsen

About this exhibit

Beaded shoes, Idaho State Historical Society

Crafting Idaho: Idaho Women’s Amateur Arts and Crafts is an exploration of Idaho women’s experiences with various artistic media from the nineteenth century through the present.  The exhibit features the arts and crafts of a diverse group of women—from indigenous Americans to white settlers to modern-day refugees from Africa—whose lives have intersected with the geographical region now known as Idaho.

You will find on this site several genre of art and craft, from the expected—beadwork and lacework—to the unexpected—hairwork and taxidermy.  The essay on each type of art or craft explores the context of the craft during various eras in the United States, and photos of the artifacts illustrate how women interpreted these genres in Idaho.  The objects on virtual display here represent centuries of women’s efforts.

The exhibit was created by students in the spring 2012 course Women in America: The Western Experience, taught by Dr. Leslie Madsen-Brooks at Boise State University. Without them, and the assistance of the Idaho State Historical Society, this project would not have possible.

Thanks so much for exploring our online exhibition.  Should you have questions or comments, feel free to e-mail Dr. Madsen-Brooks at lesliemadsen-brooks -at-


Burundi style baskets made by Venantia Mukangeruka in 2010.
Plastic woven over wicker. Idaho State Historical Society, 2010.19.17, .20, .32.

This project was made possible by the dedicated students of Women in America: The Western Experience at Boise State University during spring 2012.  As the course instructor, I challenged them with a project unlike any most of them had attempted before. Not only did I require them to undertake small group work throughout the course, I asked them to work together as a class of 40 students on the same project. I required them to work with artifacts, and many of them had never considered material culture as historical evidence prior to this project. They had to undertake research in primary and secondary sources, and many found such sources to be scarce, but they persisted. Finally, I asked them to learn the WordPress platform as they edited and posted their essays.

Much of the collaboration among students inside and outside of class was eased by the generous loan of 40 iPads from the Mobile Learning Scholars Program at Boise State University. Students used their iPads extensively in researching this project, sharing documents, and editing their work. View a list of student curators.

This project also depended on the tremendous assistance of Sarah Phillips, the curatorial registrar at the Idaho State Historical Museum. When I was looking for a theme for this online exhibition, it was Sarah who suggested art and craft, and it was again Sarah who located and identified the objects you see on this site from among the approximately quarter-million objects in the museum’s collection.  Sarah laid out objects to be photographed and placed elaborate Victorian gowns on dress forms so the students could better study them.  Finally, she coordinated all photographic and online publishing permissions from the Idaho State Historical Society.

Accordingly, we also owe a debt of gratitude to the historical society for its willingness to open its collections to us and to allow my students to use the images on this site free of charge.

Finally, a few groups used Creative Commons-licensed photos from  Many thanks to the photographers who made their images available under Creative Commons.

Many thanks to everyone involved in the project.  It was a pleasure working with all of you.

Leslie Madsen-Brooks
Boise, Idaho
May 2012