Research into the colonial heritage of Wendland linen

2024-01-31 Lüneburg/Küsten. Wendland in north-east Lower Saxony is known as a remote rural region - a research project on Wendland linen production is now challenging this notion. In the 18th and 19th centuries, flax cultivation and home-made linen were the only additional source of income for the local farming population and ensured a modest level of prosperity that is still visible today. In a collaborative project with the School of Culture and Society at Leuphana University Lüneburg, Sarah Kreiseler, Director of the Wendland Rundling Museum, now wants to investigate the previously unexplored supra-regional trade routes and uses of linen during the colonial period. Her hypothesis is that this linen, like that from other strongholds of linen production, could have been used to make clothing for slaves in America.

What is known about the history of Wendland linen so far is that the finished bales of linen were taken to so-called "Leggeanstalten" at Lüchow, Wustrow, Bergen (Dumme) and Dannenberg for inspection. There their trace is initially lost. It can be assumed that the linen was mostly transported from there to Hamburg and then shipped all over the world. The project now aims to clarify the further path of the Wendland linen.

One hypothesis guiding the research assumes that the modest prosperity of Wendland's farmers, which is still visible today in the houses of the round villages typical of the region, could have an indirect colonial connection. Ultimately, the aim is to research and document possible global interdependencies in regional textile production and then to make them the subject of a presentation in the museum.

The project is scheduled to run for two years. The Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture is funding the research with almost 100,000 euros as part of the "Pro*Niedersachsen - Kulturelles Erbe - Forschung und Vermittlung in ganz Niedersachsen" programme.