Artifacts from Early America

by Beverly A. Straube


Teapots were drawn into the political arena in 18th-century America as colonists boycotted the import of tea from Britain.

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September 2021


Pages 320
Volumes 1
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics American History/General
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This book supplies the guidance and relevant historical context needed to understand a wide range of objects and the fascinating insights they can provide to life in colonial America.

When material objects and artifacts are properly analyzed, they serve as valuable primary sources for learning about history. Written for upper-level high school and entry-level college students, this book looks at a wide range of topics relating to daily life in colonial America, using artifacts as the lens through which to explore wider issues. The book begins with a discussion of objects and why they are important to studying the past. It also explains how to study objects so they can "tell their stories." Readers will not only learn about daily life in early America, but will also gain the skills of observation and assessment needed to analyze the objects and draw meaningful conclusions from them.

The volume helps students explore the "stories" of more than 40 objects from colonial America that shed light on key aspects of social life and culture. The artifacts include archaeological finds as well as museum pieces, providing comparisons between different types of contextual data. Some of the museum pieces discussed, such as "Paul Revere's Lantern," are revered by Americans today as icons of specific historic events. By examining the "biographies" of these objects, the reader will be challenged to decide how much of these legends is true—and, if not, whether it really matters. Is it instead more important for Americans to have tangible symbols representing past events and the development of their culture?


  • Provides students with guidance on how to assess and analyze artifacts
  • Places important objects and artifacts within the context of key topics in colonial history
  • Offers an innovative way for students to learn about history through material culture
  • Enables fuller historical understanding by clarifying how the meanings of artifacts are created through the interactions of objects and people and how these meanings change through time
  • Includes primary sources relating to most entries to help students place each object in context
Series Description

Daily Life through Artifacts

Daily Life through Artifacts presents a collection of objects and artifacts from daily life that shed light on key aspects of social life and culture for specific historical periods or topics. Each artifact is illustrated with a large image, showing interesting detail and allowing for close-up study. The series serves to demonstrate how objects and artifacts can be "read" as primary sources to provide greater insight into the people and societies who created and used them. Each title in the series provides information on the background material for these objects as well as guidance on how to analyze an object or artifact. Readers will not only learn about the daily life of past societies but also gain the skills of observation and assessment needed to analyze the objects and draw meaningful conclusions from them about their context and significance.
Author Info

Beverly A. Straube, PhD, FSA, earned her doctorate from the University of Leicester, England, and is an independent archaeological curator and material culture specialist. She is curator for the First Colony Foundation that is researching Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke colony in North Carolina. Straube has more than 40 years' experience in the field of historical archaeology on tidewater Virginia sites and is especially knowledgeable about the material culture from the colonial period. She was part of the archaeological team that located James Fort, the first permanent English settlement in the New World, and she served as the senior curator of the Jamestown Rediscovery Project for 21 years. She has published extensively in journals, edited volumes about a wide range of artifacts found on America's colonial sites, and appeared as an authority in numerous productions made for PBS, the History Channel, C-Span, the Discovery Channel, and the BBC. In 2005, she was elected as a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, London.

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