Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Canterbury Shaker Village
Website URL
American material and visual culture, history of everyday life in the United States, American social and cultural history, history of women in the United States, museum studies, public history, history of photography in the United States
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am a historian of stuff. I have spent much of my adult life thinking and writing about the many lives of stuff—the objects humans create, buy, sell, and give, use and alter, save and destroy. My interdisciplinary research explores the ways humans understand their lives, their families, and their communities through material and visual culture. Whether a child’s handmade rattle or royal scepter or a computer mouse, a physical object may be analyzed to explore how cultural meaning is created and reified, how social relations and social status are clarified, how economies function, how knowledge is secured, exchanged, and distributed.

The study of objects requires wide-ranging and creative experiment, and I incorporate in my work traditional connoisseurship, cultural anthropology, cultural studies, sociology, economics, and history.

I earned my A.M. and Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and my B.A. at Boston University.

Recent Publications


Material Culture in America: Understanding Everyday Life. Ed. with Helen Sheumaker (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2008), 568 pp.

“Fashion Out of Scranton: The One Hour Dress.” With Sarah Hegge and Mary Worrall. Dress: The Journal of the Costume Society of America, 48:1 (2022): available at

“Curating Craftivism and Rethinking Collection(s).” With Mary Worrall. Crafting Dissent: Handcrafted Protest Throughout History, ed. Hinda Mandell (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019)

“Martha Stewart.” Icons of American Cooking, ed. Victor W. Geraci and Elizabeth Sherburn Demers (Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2011)

“The Architect and the Teakettle.” Design Studies: A Reader, ed. Hazel Clark and David Brody. (London: Berg Publishers, 2009), 505-10

Material Culture in America: Understanding Everyday Life. Edited with Helen Sheumaker (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2008)

“‘A pretty custom’ Updated: From ‘Going to Housekeeping’ to Kitchen Showers in America, 1850s-1930s.” Buying for the Home: Shopping for the Domestic from the Seventeenth Century to the Present, ed. Margaret Ponsonby and David Hussey (London: Ashgate, 2008), 139-161

“Self, Collected.” In Family Album: The James Rutkowski Collection of American Photographs: Essays by Michael Hall [and] Shirley Teresa Wajda (Columbus, OH: Columbus Museum of Art, 2004), 37-72

“‘And a little child shall lead them’: American Children’s Cabinets of Curiosities.” In Acts of Possession: Essays on Collecting in America, ed. Leah Dilworth (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 42-65

“‘A Kind of Missionary Work’: The Labor and Legacy of Cincinnati’s Society Women, 1877-1922.” Cynthia Amnéus, with essays by Marla R. Miller, Anne Bissonnette, and Shirley Teresa Wajda, A Separate Sphere: Dressmakers in Cincinnati’s Golden Age, 1877-1922, with a foreword by Timothy Rub (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press for the Cincinnati Art Museum, 2003), 175-88

“Phyllis Primrose Peckham: Dressed for Posterity.” With Barry Bradley and Jean L. Druesedow.  Dress: The Journal of the Costume Society of America 29 (2002): 59-74

“Repo Culture.” Material History Review/Revue d’histoire de la culture materiélle (Ottawa) 54 (Fall 2001): 103-13

“Kmartha.” “Martha Stewart Roundtable,” American Studies (Kansas) 42:2 (Summer 2001): 71-88

Selected Exhibitions
War and Speech: Propaganda, Patriotism, and Dissent in the Great War. Main Gallery, Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, MI, 11 November 2017-31 January 2019

Knitting the Resistance: Crafting Political Protest from the 2017 Women’s Marches. With Mary Worrall, Lynne Swanson, and Molly McBride. Fine Arts Gallery, Michigan State University Student Memorial Union, East Lansing, MI, 21 July-16 September 2017

Sympathetic Detail: R. F. Deckert and the Art of Natural History Illustration. Art-Science-Creativity Gallery, Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, MI, 28 November 2016-3 November 2017

Useful Improvement: Preserving MSU’s Agricultural History. Heritage Hall, Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, MI, 1 October 2016-30 September 2017

Up Cloche: Feminism, Fashion, Modernity. Curated with Lynne Swanson and Mary Worrall. Heritage Gallery, Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, MI, 4 January-23 November 2016

#me: Silhouettes to Selfies. Entrance Hall Gallery, Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, MI, 27 July-5 October 2014

The Kokoon Arts Club: Cleveland Revels! Stager and Blum Galleries, Kent State University Museum, 19 March 2009-28 March 2010; Cleveland Artists Foundation, Lakewood, OH, 14 May 2010-31 July 2010

Designing Domesticity: Decorating the American Home since 1876. Curated with Terrence L. Uber.  Broadbent Gallery, Kent State University Museum, Kent, OH, 5 December 2001-18 November 2002

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, 20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Art & Architectural History, Local & Regional, Material Culture, Museums, Public History, Women