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The specialized documentation

La phonothèque (record Library)

Bringing life to objects

"I open the downstairs door, I cross the hall, I go upstairs, right-hand door, I press the door bell… Marthe are you there ? I hear the lock, the door opens, her white hair appears, she has changed her glasses, she looks younger.
The mike is on the table, she knows I am taping and she doesn't mind.

Taping, what for ? For keepsake, like the collector who while searching exhaustively to increase the amount of objects collected with the secret and unhappy knowledge that the ultimate collection is unattainable ? To enrich a field of knowledge, like the ethnologist who collects to obtain the maximum representative data which will enable him to define a sense, a symbolism, sets a behaviour linked to a group ?


Collecting words


I started going to meet the previous participants of the lace industry as I was asking myself about which message should be transmitted to the visitor of a social museum such as the Lace Manufactures' Museum. All the objects of the collection seem very dull, very dusty. They were not telling me anything worthy, save maybe about death, times past and gone. They remained mute because nothing came to enlighten their function or their use, could one just stick a succinct note, a date and an inventory number.
In short, I could not find anything to intimately link me with their presence. The thread I was looking for was not made of linen. I had to go ahead and meet men and women to receive the gift of their friendly words describing the course of their life by then the objects were making sense again.
The justification of museums is to have a mission to communicate, added to their conservation aim so that the men remain more valuable than their objects, those being nothing more than essential mediators."

Dominique Sallanon
Ethnologue for the museum


Keeping memory

Within the Phonothèque the Lace Manufactures' Museum collects and keeps recordings and transcriptions from the testimonies and life histories of the people having had a link with the lace history.
To this day, the museum gathers 66 audio recordings concerning lace-makers, accountants, managers, supervisors, machinists who assembled lace or who finished the linen items either in the workshop or at home, the people who collected the lace, the designers and the circular braiding machinists.


Lacemakers in Dunières, postal card

"When I had a spare moment having finished my chores, well I sat myself down because I couldn't stay doing nothing"

Mrs B., lacemaker born in 1904, Valprivas


A lacemaker

"When we took our first communions we could make lace. Me, I know that I learned the "points d'esprit" when I was 12. It is still difficult !"
Miss A., lacemaker and machinist, born in 1904, Retournac

"Lace didn't pay, you know !"
Mrs S., lacemaker born in 1915, Mézères

"My mother dressed us with lace money, we were a little of those who were well dressed."
Mrs D., lacemaker born in 1908, Rosières

"One year I trained 13 apprentices they were all getting married, they stayed on for 3 or 4 years and then they got married, they left."
Mrs V., manager born in 1909, Retournac

"We celebrated the gold medal in 1937 in the International Exhibition in Paris. Each one lifted her cup and pocketed 1000 francs, an amount of money which was welcomed and appreciated by all."
Mrs M., machinist born in 1920, Saint-Gervais-sur-Roubion


Passing on the testimony

This gathering work is vital to the documentation of the museum's collections and for their mediation. The assembled statements are communicated to all through several biases.
The exhibitions :

"Paroles Discrètes - Le Témoignage oral au Musée" (Discreet words, the oral testimony in the museum), Saison 1999-2000
"Itinéraires d'Entrelacs", Saison 2001

The publications :

Works being published in the collection "Regards sur une vie"(Inside look on a life) which give the different participants of the profession a chance to speak. Their speach is neither embellished nor novelised. Beside the story numerous, notes and pictures bring precisions and complementary informations to the breached themes.
N°1 : Marthe Alibert, lacemaker and machinist
N°2 : Rose Ouilhon, lace collector

"Paroles discrètes" book




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