Tag Archives: Material Culture

How Jewels Have Impacted History


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians” podcast, jewelry designer Aja Raden has an account of how jewels have affected the course of history. Raden is author of Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession and How Desire Shapes the World (Harper Collins, 2015). You can listen here.

“The Historians” podcast is also heard each week on RISE, WMHT’s radio information service for the blind and print disabled in New York’s Capital Region and Hudson Valley. The podcast is recorded at Dave Greene’s Eastline Studio. Continue reading

Corset Portraits of the Loves of Aaron Burr


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Madame+Jume_RGB.BillOrcuttArtist Camilla Huey has a close to the skin interpretation of founding father Aaron Burr. While we know about his schemes to gain and keep political power, Huey tempts us to think about Burr’s gender politics. Was the former Vice-President who shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel, a full-fledged Lothario, or might there be another story?

The film “The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits in Binding and Corsetry”  premiering at Symphony Space at 95th St. and Broadway in Manhattan on Saturday, November 14 at noon offers a much more complicated and nuanced view of the man and his significant female others.  As Thomas Paine wrote in that revolutionary era “If we take a survey of the countries and the ages… we will find the women adored and oppressed. Man who has never neglected an opportunity of exerting his power,  in paying homage to their beauty has always availed himself of their weakness… at once their tyrant and their slave.” Continue reading

18th Century Material Culture Weekend Planned


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large_GarmentsFort Ticonderoga will host its annual “Material Matters: It’s in the Details” the weekend of November 7-8, 2015. The event focuses on the material culture of the 18th century and is intended for people with an interest in learning more about objects of the 18th century and what they can tell us about history. “Material Matters” takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center at Fort Ticonderoga and is open by pre-registration only.

A panel of material culture experts comes to Fort Ticonderoga for the weekend to share their knowledge of 18th-century material culture in a series of presentations. Designed for those who want a deeper understanding of the everyday objects that help tell the story of life and the contests for control of North America during the 18th century, the weekend’s informal approach enables attendees to interact with presenters and provides an opportunity to examine 18th-century objects up close. Continue reading

‘Common Heritage’ Grant Program Announced


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attic of historynehThe National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced a new grant program, called “Common Heritage,” that hopes to bring to light historical records and artifacts currently hidden in family attics and basements across the country and make them digitally available to the wider public.

NEH invites historical societies, libraries, archives, museums, colleges and other local institutions to apply for the Common Heritage grant program. Grants will support day-long events, organized by community cultural institutions, in which members of the public will be invited to share materials important to their family or community histories, such as photographs, artifacts, family letters, and works of art. Continue reading

18th-Century Fashion & Material Culture


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ben_franklins_worldThe clothing a person wears tells you a lot about them: Whether they are rich or poor, what kind of work they do, what colors they like, and what they value.

We know that John Hancock was a wealthy merchant and prominent politician, but did you know that his suit reveals even more about his life and personality than the documents and portraits he left behind?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Museum professional and textiles expert Kimberly Alexander joins us to explore the world of 18th-century fashion and material culture and what objects like John Hancock’s suit communicate about the past. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/024

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Indian Basketry of the Northeastern Woodlands


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image001(14)With hundreds of vivid and detailed color photographs and an easy narrative style enlivened by historical vignettes, Sarah Peabody Turnbaugh and William A. Turnbaugh bring overdue appreciation to a centuries-old Native American basketmaking tradition in the Northeast in Indian Basketry of the Northeastern Woodlands (Schiffer Publishing, 2014).

The authors explore the full range of vintage Indian woodsplint and sweetgrass basketry in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, from practical “work” baskets made for domestic use to whimsical “fancy” wares that appealed to Victorian tourists. Continue reading

Schuyler Mansion Lecture Series Begins Saturday


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Schuyler Mansion  2014This Saturday, March 28, 2015, Schuyler Mansion will host “Fabric For Furniture: Historic Choices,” presented by Elizabeth Lahikainen as first of the site’s 2015 spring lecture series focusing on 18th-century interior decoration, Schuyler Splendor: The Making of an 18th Century Home of Good Taste. 

Elizabeth Lahikainen, an internationally recognized textile conservator specializing in historic upholstery, will discuss 18th century design trends, fabrics appropriate for different chair styles, and what is available in today’s market. Utilizing fabrics of unusual weave and motifs, she will demonstrate combinations using chairs from Schuyler Mansion’s collection. Continue reading