Quotes from Intro of History from Things: Essays on Material Culture
"Not only do artifacts present new evidence to support historical arguments; they also suggest new arguments and provide a level of rhetorical support to arguments that mere documents cannot begin to approach" (p ix)
"The style of objects, particularly utilitarian un-self-conscious creations, relflects not only craft traditions and the individual creator but also the contemporary culture in which they were developed. Seen as cultural creations, both their associations and structure invoke multiple metaphors that serve to materialize belief." (pxi)
WHY DO WE NEED THINGS? to objectify the self, organize the mind, demonstrate power, and symbolize their place in society
"Artifacts are instruments intended to be used, and interferences about this utilitarian purpose are not culture-sensitive. But artifacts also serve as signs, and their meaning as signs usually changes when the audience changes. When objects are used as symbols, as indicators by association, and finally as conventions or referents, their meaning becomes increasingly culture-specific." (pxii)
Lubar, S. and W.D. Kingery, eds. History from Things: Essays on Material Culture. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993.