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Mary Prater

Mary Prater

(b.1928) lives in Woodbury in Cannon County
Baskets (6 nesting baskets)
white oak, 9.25 x 8.25 inches, 77.36.52A-F

These oak split baskets are characterized by bottoms that are relatively flat, with round openings. Born into the heart of Tennessee’s white oak basketmaking country, Mary Prater learned to make baskets from her neighbor, Jimmie Prater.  She sold her first basket at Muncey’s Store to buy materials for a dress and bonnet.  She made round-ribbed egg baskets for market trade to help make ends meet.  After marrying Jimmie Prater, Mary, along with other basket makers, left this craft for more lucrative work at a newly opened shirt factory. She returned to basket making in 1981 during a revival of white oak basket making that was created by the craft fair movement.  Prater, one of the last active survivors of this artistic legacy, received recognition at the Arts Center of Cannon County for her work. She was also featured in Cogswell’s Tradition: Tennessee Lives and Legacies book in 2010.

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