Matter of Style: 19th Century Furniture
Analyzing an Object of
American Material Culture Lower Grades
students will find important cultural information by looking carefully at an object and
analyzing it systematically.
after viewing A
Matter of Style at
Web site (and being familiar with the At Home in the Heartland at
) and discussing
American material-culture studies, the students will retrieve historical information
from an object by analyzing it with an Object Analysis Form (A).
an object of material culture (a piece of furniture or a good picture of one from A
Matter of Style
Object Analysis Form (A) for each student
Discuss how historians can get important information directly from an object. Use an
item in the classroom, like a chair, for an example. Have students brainstorm about
what questions they want answered about the object (what is it made of, who made
it, where did it come from, who uses it, who bought it, what is its function?).
Assign students to find one piece of furniture of their choice in At Home in the
Heartland Objects (1800-1850) at
and At Home in the Heartland Objects (1850-1890)
. Print it out
after looking carefully at it. (If resolution and clarity are lost in the printout, the stu-
dent may have to view it online while filling in the form).
fill out the left-hand box with the information requested (using the object or label
as the source).
fill out the right-hand box with the source of their answer (e.g., there was a label
on it, I recognize it from other chairs I know)
Use the information on the form to write (or report orally) a narrative version of the
results of their research. Students may not be able to find all the information asked
for on the form. Objects do not always tell us everything we want to know. Share
the results with the class.
Assessment is based on the information written on the form and the final report.
Responses should show that the student inspected the object the object carefully.
Students with higher thinking skills may be able to make inferences from marks of
wear and tear, from the labels, etc.
Object Analysis-Lower Grades--page 1