People live in material worlds and the things we make, wear, sit upon, treasure or discard are key to understanding our lives and societies. As material culture is central to human experience, it represents a vital but under-used source for historians. Written in a lively and accessible style, this new guide provides clear and practical guidance on how to incorporate the study of objects into historical practice.
History through material culture is a unique, step-by-step guide for students and researchers who wish to use objects as historical sources. Responding to the significant, scholarly interest in historical material culture studies, this book makes clear how students and researchers ready to use these rich material sources can make important, valuable and original contributions to history. Written by two experienced museum practitioners and historians, the book recognises the theoretical and practical challenges of this approach and offers clear advice on methods to get the best out of material culture research. With a focus on the early modern and modern periods, this volume draws on examples from across the world and demonstrates how to use material culture to answer a range of enquiries, including social, economic, gender, cultural and global history.
1 Approaches to the material world
2 Planning a research project
3 Developing a methodology
4 Locating sources: understanding museum collections and other repositories
5 Analysing sources
6 Writing up findings