In the mid-19th century, the shops of woodworkers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights and cobblers could be found in crossroads villages throughout upstate New York. Itinerant weavers and tinsmiths plied their crafts while passing through the region. Farm women processed wool into yarn. Rural crafts and trades have been a focus of The Farmers' Museum since its founding in the early 1940s. In 1942, the Museum acquired the collection of William B. Sprague, a founder of the Early American Industries Association, who had been collecting and preserving craft tools throughout the Northeast since the 1920s. Sprague's materials form the core of an extensive collection of 19th and early-20th century tools.