Benefit of a small museum

"True Life: I'm a Laurel Mill Worker" drew visitors from outside of Laurel as well as local patrons. Denee and Diederik Sieburgh, of Silver Spring, said they drove in after hearing about the event on National Public Radio.

"It's just really great not to have to drive down to the district to get some kind of cultural experience," Denee Sieburgh said.

"These little museums are very personal," Diederik Sieburgh said. "There was someone standing there talking to us and interacting with us … we could pick up all the stuff and touch the books. That, to me, is what's so neat."

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Steve Connair, of Annandale, and his wife stopped by the exhibit after visiting Savage Mill.

"It's a great exhibit," Connair said. "Very well done with a lot of research, and it's kind of interactive —they show you a little sign and then they ask you questions."

Baker believes that the lives of the mill workers in 1870 relate to issues that many people face today: the fear of losing their jobs due to uncontrollable factors or getting sick and suddenly losing their incomes.

"They were not living in complete poverty, but the mill workers were by no means rich," she said. "They were doing the best they could, which is something I think most people today can relate to and that I personally find particularly moving."

"I've worked on every exhibit we've done since we've opened the museum in 1996," Lubieniecki said. "This is definitely one of the best."

"True Life: I'm A Laurel Mill Worker" continues through December at the Laurel Museum, 817 Main St. Museum hours are Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Schools and tour groups are encouraged, with prior arrangement. For more information, go to or call 301-725-7975.