Linda Janklow has a passion for history, and through her program, Peopleologie, she helps others discover their own. She defines Peopleologie as “an all-ages program promoting cultural literacy, celebrating community, and building connections to the world through history, humanities, anthropology, math, science, hand crafting traditions, and fun.”
She stressed that it is not an art program, but rather a social studies program that teaches history through fun, hands-on activities including arts and crafts.
As the creator and former director of the award-winning Education Program of San Francisco’s Museum of Craft and Folk Art, Linda has had over 20 years of experience working with people in creative ways to build on their historical knowledge. After the museum in San Francisco closed, she decided to try something new and venture out on her own.
“I figured I’d give it a try,” she said when we caught up with her at a Native Californian boat making class she was giving at the Woodside Library.
Peopleologie began as an experiment at schools and libraries. After its initial success, she added over 30 different workshops that teach about various ancient cultures from around the world.
For the last year and a half, Peopleologie has traveled to various sites throughout the Bay Area, including the Woodside and Portola Valley libraries. “Anybody can ask for me,” Linda explained, “including businesses, adults, senior centers, [and] kindergarten classes. I dream up a workshop depending on what somebody requests.” [Contact information is available on the Peopleologie website.]
In the workshops, many of which are free for the public to attend, Linda, the “Peopleologist,” always emphasizes the historical aspect of any craftmaking and educates her audiences about the lifestyles and customs of the peoples whose craft her workshops replicate. For the Native Californian Boatmaking workshop, she pieced together a slideshow, “an academic attachment… [that] takes you on a trip without really going there.”
The Boatmaking workshop, which replicates the tule boats made by the Californian Miwok and Ohlone tribes, “is the most connected to our Bay Area… because it’s about the native people in this area,” she said. In it, she teaches how to construct toy-sized models of Native American boats over 10 feet in length.
All workshops teach crafts made exclusively by hand. “It’s just hands and brains [working] together,” Linda said, “and if we go back in time 2,000 ago, it’s the same traditional ways of making things.”