My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 4-5, 2014: Crowd-sourced Collections

[There are few practices more AmericanStudies, but also more complex, than that of collecting historical, cultural, and artistic treasures and memorabilia. This week I’ve highlighted and analyzed five such collections and the collectors who assembled them. This crowd-sourced post is drawn from the responses and collection highlights of fellow AmericanStudiers—add yours in comments!]
First, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight the amazing conversations that take place on H-Net’s H-Material-Culture discussion threads!
Another museum worth highlighting just followed me on Twitter this week: the Bronx’s B.C.A.D. Art Gallery!
Following up Tuesday’s post on P.T. Barnum, Nancy Caronia writes, “I guess when he is called a showman and an exploiter of people like Joice Heth, we can sometimes forget that he was a businessman first. When he bought Scudder's Museum, he did it as a business venture designed to keep his collections of people and objects all in one place and to maximize his profits. He operated in much the same way as other entrepreneurs and industrialists of the mid-nineteenth century. I don't know that anyone has examined the way in which the railroads or the factories were similar to the way people like Barnum exploited those not able to fend for themselves. It would be interesting, yes?”
Following up Wednesday’s post on George Catlin, Maggi Smith-Dalton notes that she recently used one of Catlin’s portraits as part of a presentation: “Dickens met one of [Catlin’s] subjects on the 1842 trip and I had the Catlin painting in the Keynote presentation.”
Tom B., founder of the wonderful Building a Library site, highlights Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum (located in Farmington Hills, Michigan), which he calls “great for browsing weirdness.”
Next series starts Monday,

PS. Further thoughts on these topics? Any other collections you’d highlight?


  1. Somehow I seem to have deleted a comment by Patrick Cox (, who writes:

    Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum reminded of Musee Mechanique in San Francisco ( I've never visited but it's been on my to-do list ever since the museum received a cool shout-out in the interactive YA novel "Cathy's Book."

  2. To which I say: Thanks, Patrick! My boys visited the Musee when they took a trip to SF last spring, and really enjoyed it.