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What Place Does Material Culture Have in Teaching U.S. History?

Barbara Mathews
Director, Deerfield Teachers’ Center (Deerfield, MA)

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I often witness the power of “stuff” (aka material culture) to connect students of all ages to historical events and people that might otherwise seem both remote and irrelevant . . .  Read more »

Rebecca S. Hanly
Teaching American History Grant Project Director (Kentucky)

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A 1978 Ford LTD. Coppertone SPF 2 suntan oil. . .. Material culture allows students to make sense of the items in a way that more traditional primary sources don’t always permit.  Read more »

Allyson Nakamoto
Teacher Programs Manager, Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, CA)

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Material culture brings history to life so when students see the gaps between the barrack floorboards and hear the volunteers recount the mass removal and confinement without due process, they often respond by saying, "That's not fair."  Read more »

Christina Chavarria
Program Coordinator of National Outreach Teacher Initiatives, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington, DC)

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Artifacts help translate the statistical millions into individuals and avoid giving simple answers to complex questions.  Read more »

Lisa Hershey & David McKenzie
Education Specialist & Interactive Programs Manager, Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington

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Using material culture—whether a building, a historic artifact, or even a photograph—engages the senses and enhances learning.  Read more »

Charles D. Chamberlain III
Museum Historian, Louisiana State Museum (New Orleans, LA)

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Studying material culture engages students to think and ask questions, not just passively accept the teacher's view of history . . .  Read more »

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