You can tell a lot about people by looking at their stuff -- the things they make, possess, think, and value. That is the idea that drives the field of material culture, in which scholars explore the meaning of objects of a given society. And nowhere are those meanings more revealing than in the material culture of the United States.Reaching back 400 years, Material Life in America: An Encyclopedia
is the first reference showing what the study of material culture reveals about American society -- revelations not accessible through traditional sources and methods.
In nearly 200 entries, the encyclopedia traces the history of artifacts, concepts and ideas, industries, peoples and cultures, cultural productions, historical forces, periods and styles, religious and secular rituals and traditions, and much more. Everyone from researchers and curators to students and general readers will find example after example of how the objects and environments created or altered by humans reveal as much about American life as diaries, documents, and texts.