“Making History: Applications of Digitization and Materialization Projects in Repositories” – Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Rachel Wilson’s Meat Grinder

The use of object analysis methodology, combined with traditional forms of historical research, can reveal much about an object and its role in people’s lives. In this chapter, I will perform and object analysis upon the meat grinder. I will interact with and consider the meat grinder as a physical object and speculate upon its use. My engagement with the physical object will be supplemented by historical research. I will examine the particular history of the meat grinder as documented by the repository as well as the broader historical context. The object allows me to explore gender roles, the significance of toys and childhood play, and the nature of housework.

I will also discuss my chosen terminology and methodology; an understanding of both is helpful to assess the effectiveness of my approach. Words matter and even synonyms are not wholly equivalent. The difference between an “object” and an “artifact” is subtle but important within the context of this paper. Elsewhere, of course, there may be no difference, or entirely different shades of meaning applied to one term or the other; varying usage makes explication of distinctions more important. My methodology follows the material culture practices that emerged from history’s cultural turn. The limitations of the methodology is acknowledged even as it is articulated: purely artistic objects or elements are privileged over the utilitarian, and analysis is inevitably informed and circumscribed by the experiences of the analyst.1 I am not a passive observer or transcriptionist in my creation of a story about the meat grinder.

Terminology

As a general practice, I will refer to the meat grinder as an artifact when discussing its life within the Germantown collection, and use the term object when discussing its prior existence. “Artifact” and “object” are synonymous in archival terminology, both referring to tangible man-made items. “Object” has a stronger implication of three dimensionality, which might render it marginally more appropriate when discussing a metal meat grinder. However, “object” is also intrinsic to computing-related terminology (e.g. digital object, object-oriented programming), whereas the digital uses of “artifact” are more limited.2  I wish to be consistent and deliberate in my terminology, and overall I feel that “artifact” is more in keeping with archival usage. I will use that term to denote my perspective, which is informed by academic and practical experience in archives.

The shift in terminology will also signal the different meanings that are imposed upon material objects. The meat grinder did not undergo any physical change upon its accession, but human interaction with it did alter. Before it entered the repository, children played with it as a toy, engaging in imaginative play and preparation for life in the domestic sphere. After entering the collection, it became a tool for telling stories about the Germantown story. Both roles are real, and it is important to associate the meat grinder with both. Drawing a bright line at the date of accession may be an artificial distinction, and the “before” and “after” binary does not necessarily encourage a nuanced approach to the variation in use and meaning that the meat grinder may have experienced as an object or artifact. But the change in terminology will serve as a reminder that these are issues worthy of consideration.

I will make an exception and employ the phrase “object analysis,” even though it is performed upon an artifact within a collection. Within the discipline of material culture, “object analysis” is sufficiently recognizable that a change in terminology would seem confusing at best, duplicitous at worst. The use of “object” in this context will also signal the methodological shift in thinking. While archivists’ concerns are typically at the collection level—an aggregation of items of the same provenance—object analysis is tightly focused upon a single item. But even this distinction is problematic. Archivists have item-level interests, which may include the preservation of distressed artifacts, the evidence of one artifact providing context for another, and the digitization of particularly popular artifacts to facilitate access. Material culture studies, and Prownian object analysis in particular, serve as a means of enhancing historical knowledge, not ignoring it. Archival and material culture studies require an understanding of the historical context of objects, and each provides a pathway for enhancing that understanding.

Methodology

My object analysis methodology draws primarily from Jules David Prown, though it is informed by other scholars, particularly Charles F. Montgomery and E. McClung Fleming.3 The analysis comprises three steps: description, deduction, and speculation. Description involves substantial analysis (size, weight, materials, fabrication, form, function, condition), content analysis (decorative motifs, ornament, color, style, techniques, trade practices), formal analysis (color, texture), and provenance (creator, ownership, history, date). Deduction involves sensory engagement (appearance, perception of intended users), intellectual engagement (representational aspects, design and functional performance), and emotional response (viewer reaction, evaluation). Speculation involves the creation of theories and hypotheses about the object and its role, and the formulation of a program of research to answer those questions. These analytic steps need not take place in any particular order and will, in fact, inform one another.

Prown proposes a hierarchy of object categories, ranged from art to utilitarian.4 When applied to the meat grinder, this hierarchy points to an immediate source of tension. Is the meat grinder utilitarian? While one could use it to grind meat, and perhaps a child used it for such realistic play, actual food preparation is not the purpose of such a toy. Is the meat grinder art? It is of minimal utility, but as a mass-produced item in the form of a common kitchen implement, it is neither unique nor designed to be aesthetically pleasing. A meat grinder is a tool (category 6, devices), but this meat grinder is a toy (category 2, diversions).

Prown’s categories are intentionally broad and suggestive. He assumes that refinements are required. In this case, classifying the object appears to be an exercise in futility—and perhaps it is, if one merely wishes to slot the object into the hierarchy. This, however, would be a mistake, not merely uninteresting but a misreading of Prown, whose methodology encourages flexibility and, more importantly, reflexivity. The important question is not “What category is correct?” Far better to ask how those categories interact, for what audience, and in what context. Does imaginative play elevate a utilitarian object? Does the utilitarian nature of the object erode the quality of the play? Is the meat grinder a means by which a (probably female) child explored the possibilities of the world? Or was her play constrained—rendered less artful—by toys which aped utilitarian objects? Prown’s hierarchy provides no answers, rather a framework for devising questions about objects and their roles in people’s lives.

Montgomery’s methods inform my own, but the implications of his methodology are as important to discuss as its details. Montgomery’s approach privileges the subjective, sensual response to an object.5 I have employed that method, though the meat grinder is not exactly an objet d’art likely to catch the interest of art historians. I have extended that subjectivity to an outright sentimental approach: the meat grinder and associated items were toys, perhaps dearly loved or representative of happy, innocent times. Montgomery’s influence is perhaps most obvious in my discussion of the value of the meat grinder. He was an acknowledged expert, with publications and academic appointments bolstering any appraisal he might offer. But he was a businessman, a dealer in antiquities, before his landmark academic work at the Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware. This dual identity and the divergent experiences and expectations of Montgomery’s roles raises important questions of authority and the problematic issue of monetizing collections held by public institutions.

The formal appraisal of the collection’s kitchen toys carries the imprimatur of a professional appraiser, but that assessment is two decades old and does not address the value of the meat grinder in specific. The current market value of the meat grinder is derived from eBay auctions. The identity and expertise of the sellers is difficult to verify, as is that of the buyers. Members of either group may be woefully underinformed or the deeply knowledgeable sort of connoisseur Montgomery addressed. The tension of assigning a monetary value to an object is highlighted in this instance. Should it be assessed as art or a utilitarian object? Is the judgment of an expert more valuable than those engaged in commerce? What is the context of those judgments? Who has the authority to make such decisions, from where do they derive that power, and how are they held accountable? Does the appraised worth of a collection merely provide researchers with additional data—or does it have the potential to add value or risk deaccession-for-profit during economic downturns?

The monetary value of the meat grinder speaks to its original role and also the means by which it entered the collection. Kitchen toys invited girls to play at an adult role; such hands-on labor had, during the meat grinder’s period, become the hallmark of middle-class housewifery.6 If designed as a toy, the meat grinder could target (in terms of interest and pricing) that middle-class audience of future housewives, perhaps ignoring the much smaller pool of upper-class girls who could expect to employ domestic servants and poor girls without extensive toy collections. If the meat grinder was, in fact, a salesman’s sample, its makers must have assumed the possibility of loss or specifically intended to give the samples away to potential customers. The meat grinder was part of a donation to Germantown which was appraised for tax purposes. Money may not have been the donor’s sole motivator, but neither was it ignored. The economic tale of the meat grinder did not begin and end with its original acquisition, but informed its entire existence as both object and artifact.

Meeting the Meat Grinder

My initial response, upon seeing the meat grinder, was to ask “What is that?” Because I asked the question aloud, I learned immediately that the artifact was a meat grinder. I lost an opportunity to interrogate an uninformed introduction to the artifact, but can still discuss my initial reaction and the context of the artifacts in the collection.

The first issue is my failure to recognize a meat grinder. My kitchen is populated with a number of gadgets, which see a varying amount of use. They include such items as a stand mixer, a food processor, a blender, an immersion blender, a rice cooker, a waffle iron, and an electric tea kettle. Though my spouse and I both cook—often from scratch and frequently using meat—we rarely have cause to process meat, and on those occasions when we do another tool accomplishes the job. (Our kitchen is generally free of the single-use tools Good Eats host Alton Brown spent a decade and a half disparaging as “unitaskers.”) Manual meat grinders, with a form factor very similar to the toy, remain on the market alongside electric options.7 My personal blind spot was particular to the type of cooking I do, and the type of kitchen tools I tend to use.

Germantown’s meat grinder is housed on a shelf with other miniature kitchen tools, in an area devoted to toys. (See Photograph 2.) The meat grinder sits near other miniature domestic items, including a kettle, iron, and tea set. This adjacency implies not only its identity as a toy, but as a “girls’ toy” centered upon the kitchen and domestic play. But the knowledge that Germantown Historical Society also collects tools, combined with the very prominent screw, could prove something of a distraction. The shape is reminiscent of a vice—and in fact the meat grinder clamps in place in a vice-like manner—providing momentary confusion as to the artifact’s primary function, and which components perform it. The collection also includes “boys’ toys,” and a toy car sits on the shelf below the meat grinder. Notions of gendered play, and the gendered spaces of kitchen and workshop, may have contributed to my initial confusion.

Photograph 2. The meat grinder in its place on a Germantown Historical Society shelf. Photograph taken with the LG smartphone.
Photograph 2. The meat grinder in its place on a Germantown Historical Society shelf. Photograph taken with the LG smartphone.

Object Analysis

The artifact is a small metal meat grinder, silver in color. It is not particularly reflective, and exhibits some rust. It has a logo—“CA” or “AC”—and “MADE IN U.S.A.” in raised letters.  It is dated between 1920 and 1940. Accession documentation includes measurements of 5 inches long and 3-1/2 inches wide, and notes that the crank is operational.8 A formal appraisal identifies the material as cast metal with nickel plating.9 Serif text is used for the letters in the logo, but sans serif is used for the manufacturing location. A conscious design decision is implied, and the logo presumably appeared on other products and packaging.

The donation was appraised for tax purposes in 1995, with a total value of approximately $6,000. The set of miniature kitchen toys, in “good to excellent” condition, was valued at $178.00. The appraised set included the meat grinder, tin hand mixer in glass bowl, tin coal iron and trivet, tin and copper tin molds, a pair of candy tongs, sifter, muffin tin, pierced spoon and spatula, cast iron balance scale with tin scoop (missing one weight), Arcade stove top waffle iron, six piece English tin canister set, and a Revere tea kettle in box.10

A Web search revealed several eBay auctions of what appear to be the same meat grinder. It is often described as a child’s toy or salesman’s sample. The manufacturer is rendered as “AC” or “CA,” depending upon the seller. Most use the term “vintage,” though the word “antique” also appears, and descriptions of the material include cast iron and chrome or nickel plating. Based on the winning bids of three completed auctions ($9.99, $10.49, and $16.37), the consensus on the Internet appears to be that the meat grinder’s current market value is about $10.00 to $15.00. Not all auctions ended in a sale. One seller offered the item twice, first with a starting bid of $14.99 and then $9.99, but received no bids; the third time was a charm, however, and the seller ultimately sold the meat grinder for $16.37. The auctions which ended in sales did not feature many bidders (1, 2, and 10), demonstrating that there is modest interest in such items, but not great demand. None of the disappointed bidders were willing to purchase the meat grinder from a different seller with a “buy it now” price of $24.99.11 Modern, full-sized, functional kitchen tools similar to the meat grinder are sold online. Their market value is between $20.00 and $30.00.12

Regardless of whether the meat grinder was originally intended as a toy or a sample, it was surely used as a toy. The donors perceived and classified it as such. The meat grinder entered the GHS collection along with a number of other toys and dolls.13 And the meat grinder was actively used, as opposed to collected. Only one of the kitchen toys entered the GHS collection with its original box, and the scale was missing a weight. The original owners did not trouble to preserve material that would be of interest to collectors, and perhaps result in a higher appraisal value when it was time to sell or donate the toys.

The scope, age, and nature of the collection allows speculation about the owners. The donors obtained an appraisal and requested that GHS document the donation for tax purposes.14 This implies a certain degree of familiarity with tax codes and the financial position to take advantage of that knowledge. The Wilsons’ 1995 residence, a six bedroom Mount Airy home, was sold in 2007 for $780,000.15 Even allowing for the vagaries of real estate pricing, a financially comfortable existence is implied. The donors had the luxury of giving away $6,000 worth of items, receiving in return tax benefits and the emotional satisfaction derived from contributing to the collection.

There are indications that the emotional factor was important. Several items were appraised but not ultimately donated, including Kiddicraft building beakers.16 There is a certain poignancy to the handwritten notes in the appraisal document: “Retained by owner.” These mid-century toys may have been impersonally mass produced, but that did not prevent consumers from developing a personal relationship with the objects, and adopting the affirmative role of “owner.” One imagines that particularly pleasant memories attached to the retained objects, complicating their surrender. Perhaps the prospect of another generation of users made the thought of Kiddicraft blocks sitting on a repository shelf unpalatable.

The collection was amassed over many years, conjuring images of multi-generational use of the toys. A decanter set circa 1900, a tin kaleidoscope circa 1930, and a 1950 copy of My Jungle Book were likely not acquired for use by the same children.17 But they may well have been used by subsequent generations, not merely kept by the original owner for sentimental reasons. The gendered nature of the toys offers hints about the sex of children in the family. The dolls and miniature domestic toys speak to the presence of female children, and construction toys speak to the presence of male children.

History of the Meat Grinder as Object and Artifact

The archival perspective can effectively address material culture problems. Prown’s introduction to material culture theory and method does not explicitly address archives and artifacts’ lives within a collection. However, the role of professional, purposeful collectors of artifacts is implicit. Prown makes reference to cultural institutions, “attached value”—worth which may be attributed to an object by the original users or subsequent individuals—and “distortions of survival.”18 Making such value judgments and distorting the historical record (in, ideally, a beneficial manner) is the archivist’s stock-in-trade.

Archivists are deeply concerned with context. When evaluating the material in their care, archivists speak in terms of “context” and a constellation of issues—creator, provenance, origin, etc.—that have direct bearing upon it.19 The fundamental concept of provenance is based upon the relationship of items in a collection—both before and after it enters the repository. Provenance, if thoroughly understood and documented, can help explain how artifacts “come to be here,” in a particular collection in a particular repository.20 Original order is something to be respected, sometimes obvious but often divined by the archivist. Arrangement is a process, though it may be transparent to users.

The Wilsons’ donation may be understood as a collection, not merely a group of objects, and this approach allows us to say more about the meat grinder. It was specifically classified as a toy in the formal appraisal. It is not clear how much of the classification was performed by the Wilsons, and how much was imposed by the appraiser. However, the Wilsons commissioned the appraisal and were presumably satisfied with its accuracy. Furthermore, it was specifically classified as a “Miniature Kitchen Toy,” a subgroup of “Doll Accessories”—by implication, a girl’s toy. From an archivist’s perspective, the documentation surrounding the accession speaks to the intellectual organization of the donors’ materials. It also informs the physical arrangement of artifacts on GHS’s shelves.

It is highly probable that the organizational structure of the appraisal and donation accurately reflected the object’s use. Assuming that the meat grinder was, actually and by intent, used alongside similarly domestic-themed toys is probably not a distortion imposed later by the Wilsons, the appraiser, GHS, or myself—but it is still important to interrogate that assumption. The gendered nature of play and toys is something noted by scholars in many fields, cultural critics, and attentive parents. Legos provide a useful example. A 1981 ad currently enjoying viral popularity online features a red-headed, sneaker-shod, denim-wearing girl, a range of primary and neutral colors, and the tag line “What it is is beautiful.” But as media critic Anita Sarkeesian illustrates, the apparent gender neutrality of the red-headed girl stands in sharp contrast to the company’s strongly gendered marketing after the mid-1980s. Equal-opportunity Lego marketing did not simply happen because an advertising agency employed a woman as creative director; it was also aimed at the strictly gender-policed suburbs of the 1950s.21 Blakemore and Centers, approaching the issue from the field of psychology, discuss the gendering of toys in recent decades. Though the studies they perform and cite fall well after the meat grinder’s period, the observations about strong gender coding and assumptions are in line with historical interpretations of the meat grinder’s period.22

In order for the meat grinder to be a child’s toy, it was first necessary for there to be such a class of objects. As imaginative play achieved social acceptability, it also took on an educational and socializing purpose. The Victorian middle class viewed make-believe as a “harmless pleasure,” in contrast to earlier generations of American parents who equated imaginative play with lying. The Victorian nursery often included educational toys and miniaturized adult objects. In this way, children were prepared for adulthood.23 The late nineteenth century saw the beginning of mass produced home amusements. Games began to emphasize worldly skills rather than moral virtues. They were also a means to encourage family unity. A 1931 publication advocated family game nights because “the family that plays together, stays together.”24 Two decades later, families gathered around the television would see advertisements featuring families building Lego creations together.25

The pleasures of play came to be considered harmless, but they were by no means useless. Play served a social agenda: training children for future careers, delineating gender roles, and supporting the family structure. Within the home, children’s gender was coded by material objects. By 1910, boys’ rooms were spartan, filled with wood and metal furniture, and beginning to take on a military appearance. Girls’ rooms tended to floral and pastel decor and a Victorian frilliness—though the frills faded by 1920, along with the nursery. Children, singly or grouped by gender, stayed in a room meant to “grow with the child.”26 Childhood was no longer a period of morally threatening and threatened semi-humans, but a time to set expectations for adult behavior.

The meat grinder speaks to the changing role of women’s work. Prior to the Depression, plumbing moved indoors. By 1941, 80% of American homes were wired for electricity. Nearly as many had electric irons and about half of households had power washing machines, refrigerators, and vacuum cleaners.27 These technical advances helped fill the gap as domestic servants and commercial services disappeared during the same period when standards for housework rose. Nonetheless, by 1940 middle-class housewives spent more time on housework than they had thirty years earlier. Longer hours were accompanied by a demotion. The turn-of-the-century housewife was a manager, but by 1940 she was a worker.28 In housewives’ new role as labor, rather than management, their hands operated meat grinders. The toys used by their daughters reflected this reality and expectations of future adult responsibilities.

History of a Family

William H. Haines (1854-1929), the donor’s grandfather, was the president of a plumbing supply company, Haines, Jones & Cadbury. His wife, Mary Howell Haines (1856-1885), died after the birth of their fourth child and her sister, Phebe Emlen Howell (1858-1940), cared for the children. Eight years after Mary’s death, William and Phebe married. The eldest boy, Joseph H. Haines (1878-1957), married Helen Whitall (1890-1917) in 1916, and in 1922 married an Englishwoman, Margaret Mary Clark (1886-1968). The donor was born Rachel Margaret Haines in 1924.29

The Haines family had a strong connection to the Germantown area. William Haines built a house on Wayne Avenue (later demolished to make way for an apartment building). Joseph and Margaret Haines lived at 130 West Walnut Lane for the entirety of their married lives; the Wilsons’ Mount Airy home was a mile and a half away. They all belonged to the Germantown Friends Meeting on Coulter Street.30

Rachel Wilson’s story is directly entwined with two of the foundational stories of the early twentieth century: World War I and emerging technologies of domesticity. Joseph H. Haines served in France with the American Friends Service Committe (AFSC). A 1918 letter home recounts a day spent bicycling and picnicking with a Miss Clark.31 In the most trite of counterfactuals, without the upheaval of the war Haines and Clark might never have met—or, slightly more subtly, settling in Germantown may not have been so appealing. Haines liked France and considered buying “a gem” of a chateau in Touraine, but worried about the possibility of a “Social Revolution” in France or Great Britain that might “upset land tenures etc.”—something he guessed not to be a risk in the United States.32 He had a great deal of sympathy for socialism: “these crazy fanatics in Russia” had the potential to save the world from future armed conflicts and the excesses of capitalism. But he understood that his personal interests did not align with the proletariat’s.33 Joseph Haines’s economic security was a result of capitalism in general and domestic technologies in specific. Haines, Jones & Cadbury was a plumbing supply company, an entity which was both predicated upon and necessary to the spread of indoor plumbing—part of the technological shift that fundamentally changed housework in the United States.34

The letters Joseph Haines wrote to his father while in France offer snapshots of gender relations, albeit in the extreme situation of a war-torn country and with an eye to censors.35 Haines dealt with refugees and impoverished civilians. Many were women and children, and he formed ongoing relationships with some. The women were reliant on men: those present, like Haines, who made their lives better; those absent, dead or fighting, who left them in dire economic straits; and those from Germany, who were responsible for the hardship they faced. In several letters Haines mentioned the “hard-working and practical” widow Mme. Debailly. He approved of her decision to buy her daughter a communion dress using some of the money he sent her, so that the girl could be presented “without being ashamed of herself”: material goods were not simply a matter of life and death, but also social well-being.36

American women who proactively aided war victims and the AFSC were framed in reactive or purely domestic ways. Haines related a humorous anecdote of a man who inadvertently drank a beauty product (perhaps face wash: Haines was not clear on that detail) which relief workers from Smith College had stored in a whiskey bottle. The man became quite distraught, fearing that he was poisoned by “something that the girls carried with them to drink in case they were captured!”37 Male relief workers were, apparently, assumed to be less well-prepared for suicide. Haines noted a need to examine nurse’s aids before sending them into the field, otherwise their primary (and distinctly non-professional) virtue—enthusiasm—“sometimes leaks out.”38 A gender divide in personal relationships was also apparent. Haines wrote to his father about matters of business, taxes, and politics. He received care packages—mittens, socks, and food—from women. Based upon his requests that his father pass along thanks, his contact with those women was sometimes limited to material objects and did not include written correspondence.39 Even when working toward the same goal, men and women did not operate in same spheres.

As a young woman, Margaret Haines was involved in various Quaker organizations and hiking groups in England. (One guesses that, on bike or on foot, she had no trouble keeping up with Joseph Haines.) She was involved in missionary work, served as an officer in the Missionary Helpers’ Union, and traveled to India and Ceylon. After emigrating, her missionary work continued with the Philadelphia Mission Board.40

That missionary work often focused upon the domestic sphere. Letters to the Newcastle-on-Tyne Junior M.H.U. thanked the organization for material aid—parcels including clothes, toys, and books—and described the joy of the young recipients.41 S. Katherine Taylor, in a letter also illustrative of the exoticism of India, framed the expanding education of girls as a good thing. The evidence and driving force for this was, however, the marriageability of educated girls, not their ability to use their education to take on non-domestic roles.42 Haines’s decades of work exposed her daughter not only to the commitment of an activist, but to the acceptable types and targets of her activism.

Margaret Haines also demonstrated a care for material goods and the stories attached to them. She emigrated as an adult, but took the trouble to bring childhood toys and other possessions from England to America. Ink bottles testified to the trip to India a decade before her daughter’s birth.43 The dolls Lily, Harebell, and Rob Roy were available for play—but the fact that Rachel Wilson knew their names indicates they were also subjects of conversation, perhaps a means for her mother to talk about her childhood.44 A set of glasses were purchased “by saving up pocket money”—a story of patience, a desire postponed but eventually fulfilled.45 Nearly thirty years after Haines’s death, those personal details were remembered and recorded.

Rachel Wilson took an active role in the preservation of her family’s history. She donated an extensive collection of artifacts to the GHS, but also provided a brief family history and, in the case of some objects, detailed provenance information. These notes confirm speculation about the multi-generational and -gendered nature of the ownership and also preserve small memories and pieces of family and local history: a toy cigar bed box from Wilson’s childhood was probably made by the family’s chauffeur, and in 1958 Wilson’s son shopped at Killians in Chestnut Hill to buy his sister a bubble-blowing monkey as a birthday gift.46

It was Wilson who donated her late father’s papers to Haverford College. She may have been the one to have them typed and offered for publication; at the time of writing, Joseph Haines denied such an intent.47 A notation in the collection states that, as of 1988, the original letters remained in Wilson’s possession—as anticipated in the note, they did subsequently make their way into the collection—but donating material and building the Haines family collection was an ongoing process, more collaborative than simply handing over a box of artifacts. Wilson’s own words are in the background, relegated to documents about the collections, but her intentions infuse the collections and are the motivating force behind their existence.

 

The application of object analysis and traditional historical research allows engagement with the meat grinder and suggest the role it may have played in people’s lives. As a kitchen toy from the first half of the twentieth century, it is deeply embedded in a story of American childhood, play and toys, as well as women’s experience as housewives. As an artifact in a larger collection, it illustrates the accretion and classification of a family’s toys and particularizes broader social trends. Investigation of the meat grinder illustrates the value of material culture methodology and the value of considering an artifact’s context within a collection and a repository. In subsequent chapters, I will explore the further insights that can come when one takes the additional steps of digitizing and materializing artifacts.


  1. Jules David Prown, “Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method,” Winterthur Portfolio Vol. 17, No. 1 (Spring 1982), 15-16, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1180761 (accessed 23 August 2012). 
  2. See Richard Pearce-Moses, A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005), PDF Edition, especially 36, 270, for SAA terminology. 
  3. E. McClung Fleming, “Artifact Study: A Proposed Model,” Winterthur Portfolio Vol. 9 (1974): 153-173, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1180572 (accessed 23 August 2012); Charles F. Montgomery, “The Connoisseurship of Artifacts,” in Thomas J. Schlereth, ed., Material Culture Studies in America, (London: Altamira Press, 1999), 143-152; Prown, “Mind in Matter.” For discussion of object analysis methodology used in an earlier graduate project and largely duplicated here, see Megan Miller, “Object Analysis Method,” Owls All the Way, September 9, 2012, http://owlsalltheway.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/object-analysis-method/ (accessed 29 April 2013). 
  4. Prown, 3. 
  5. Montgomery, 145. 
  6. Ruth Schwartz Cowan, “Coal Stoves and Clean Sinks: Housework between 1890 and 1930,” in Jessica H. Foy and Thomas J. Schlereth, eds., American Home Life, 1880-1930: A Social History of Spaces and Services (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), 213-215, 218. 
  7. See for example “CucinaPro 265-08 Healthy Meat Grinder – #8,” Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/CucinaPro-265-08-Healthy-MeatGrinder/dp/B0000DE4LW/ref=sr_1_10?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1367252059&sr=1-10 (accessed 29 April 2013); “LaCuisineTM #10 Hand Operated Meat Grinder,” Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/LaCuisineTM-Hand-Operated-MeatGrinder/dp/B006481WHW/ref=sr_1_21?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1367252059&sr=1-21 (accessed 29 April 2013); “Meat Grinder with Table Clamp,” Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/Meat-Grinderwith-Table-Clamp/dp/B001TA8YWQ/ref=sr_1_14?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1367252059&sr=1-1460 (accessed 29 April 2013); “Weston Meat Grinders,” Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/WestonHeavy-Manual-TinnedGrinder/dp/B000BQSW44/ref=sr_1_5?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1367252059&sr=1-5 (accessed 29 April 2013). 
  8. B. R. Roberts, Cataloging Worksheet, Accession Number 1995.15.33(.2), August 21, 1995, Germantown Historical Society Accession 1995.15. 
  9. Barry S. Slosberg, Fair Market Value Appraisal for Federal Tax Donation Purposes Only, prepared for James D. and Rachel H. Wilson, March 22, 1995, Germantown Historical Society Accession 1995.15, item 33. 
  10. Slosberg; see item 33 for the kitchen toys. 
  11. Ewkauctions, “Vintage Miniature AC Metal Meat Grinder 5” Tall Salesman Sample or Childs Toy,” Ebay sale page, http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Miniature-AC-Metal-Meat-Grinder-5-TallSalesman-Sample-or-Childs-Toy-/400305140729 (accessed 27 April 2013); From-my-attic-to-yours, “Vintage Childs Toy Cast Iron Meat Grinder AC 5”x3 1/2”,” Ebay auction ending March 10, 2013, http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-CHILDS-TOY-CAST-IRON-MEAT-GRINDER-AC-5-x3-1-2-/390554799870?ViewItem=&item=390554799870&lgeo=1&vectorid=229466&nma=true&si=4hprmZEtWJ0Js7aL%252FNwXXiFYXEI%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557 (accessed 27 April 2013); From-my-attic-to-yours, “Vintage Childs Toy Cast Iron Meat Grinder AC 5”x3 1/2”,” Ebay auction ending April 2, 2013, http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-CHILDS-TOY-CAST-IRON-MEATGRINDER-AC-5-x3-1-2-/271180258069?pt=Vintage_Antique_Toys_US&hash=item3f239a5b15&nma=true&si=4hprmZEtWJ0Js7aL%252FNwXXiFYXEI%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557 (accessed 27 April 2013); From-my-attic-to-yours, “Vintage Childs Toy Cast Iron Meat Grinder AC 5”x3 1/2”,” Ebay auction ending April 11, 2013, http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-CHILDS-TOY-CAST-IRON-MEATGRINDER-AC-5-x3-1-2-/390571828094?nma=true&si=4hprmZEtWJ0Js7aL%252FNwXXiFYXEI%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557 (accessed 27 April 2013); Neatpieces, “Antique Miniature Meat Grinder Cast Iron Vintage Child’s Toy Salesman’s Sample,” EBay auction ending April 17, 2013, http://www.ebay.com/itm/ANTIQUE-MINIATURE-MEAT-GRINDER-CAST-IRON-VINTAGECHILDS-TOY-SALESMANS-SAMPLE-/221212570274?pt=Vintage_Antique_Toys_US&hash=item33814bf2a2&nma=true&si=4hprmZEtWJ0Js7aL%252FNwXXiFYXEI%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557 (accessed 27 April 2013); Sak335, “Vintage Salesman Sample Childs toy Kitchen Meat Grinder Chopper Marked AC,” Ebay auction ending March 24, 2013, http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Salesman-Sample-Childs-Toy-KitchenMeat-Grinder-Chopper-Marked-AC-/171009594085?pt=Vintage_Antique_Toys_US&hash=item27d0f752e5&nma=true&si=4hprmZEtWJ0Js7aL%252FNwXXiFYXEI%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557 (accessed 27 April 2013); Sweetcheeks54lr, “Vintage Toy Miniature CA Meat Grinder Cast Iron Salesman Sample,” Ebay auction ending October 24, 2011, http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-TOY-MINIATURE-CA-MEATGRINDER-CAST-IRON-SALESMAN-SAMPLE-/160667117688?nma=true&si=4hprmZEtWJ0Js7aL%252FNwXXiFYXEI%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557 (accessed 27 April 2013). 
  12. See Amazon.com examples cited above, ranging in price from $22.99 to $29.99. 
  13. See Roberts’ accession documents, Slosberg. 
  14. Letters between Rachel Wilson and GHS, Germantown Historical Society Accession 1995.15. 
  15. “707 W. Mount Airy Avenue, Philadelphia-West Mount Airy, PA 19119,” Blockshopper Web site, http://philly.blockshopper.com/property/092065200/707_w_mount_airy_avenue/ (accessed 19 April 2013); “707 W. Mount Airy Avenue in Philadelphia-West Mount Airy sold for $780,000,” Blockshopper
    61 Web site, July 31, 2007, http://philly.blockshopper.com/sales/cities/philadelphiawest_mount_airy/property/092065200/707_w_mount_airy_avenue/481764 (accessed 19 April 2013). 
  16. Slosberg, item 30. 
  17. Slosberg, items 30, 31, 34. 
  18. Prown, 1, 3, 4. 
  19. See Eun G. Park, “Understanding “Authenticity” in Records and Information Management: Analyzing Practitioner Constructs,” The American Archivist Vol. 64, No. 2 (Fall/Winter 2001), http://www.jstor.org/stable/40294173 (accessed 16 October 2011), 286-287, for discussion of how different information professionals evaluate records’ authenticity. The survey groups archivists and record managers together, but results for the combined group sharply diverge sharply from the bibliographic slant of librarians. See Kate Theimer, “Archives in Context and as Context,” Journal of Digital Humanities Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring 2012), http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/1-2/archives-in-context-and-as-context-by-katetheimer/ (accessed 29 March 2013) for discussion of archivists’ professional practice and terminology in contrast to other constituencies, primarily digital humanists. 
  20. Heather MacNeil, “Trusting Description: Authenticity, Accountability, and Archival Description Standards,” Journal of Archival Organization 7, No. 3 (2009), 99, DOI: 10.1080/15332740903117693 (accessed 19 November 2011), quoting Laura Millar, “The Death of the Fonds and the Resurrection of Provenance: Archival Context in Space and Time,” Archivaria 53 (Spring 2002), 12-13. 
  21. See Anita Sarkeesian, “LEGO & Gender Part 1: Lego Friends,” Feminist Frequency, 30 January 2012, http://www.feministfrequency.com/2012/01/lego-gender-part-1-lego-friends/ (accessed 25 January 2014) and “LEGO & Gender Part 2: The Boys Club,” Feminist Frequency, 6 February 2012, http://www.feministfrequency.com/2012/02/lego-gender-part-2-the-boys-club/ (accessed 25 January 2014) for the historical overview of Lego marketing and Todd Wasserman, “Lego’s 1981 Girl-Power Ad Comes With an Inspiring Backstory,” Mashable, 21 January 2014, http://mashable.com/2014/01/21/lego-girlpower-ad-1981/ (accessed 25 January 2014) for the vintage ad gone viral. 
  22. Judith E. Owen Blakemore and Renee E. Centers, “Characteristics of Boys’ and Girls’ Toys,” Sex Roles Vol. 53, No. 9/10 (November 2005), 619-633, DOI: 10.1007/s11199-005-7729-0 (accessed 26 April 2013). 
  23. Karen Calvert, “Children in the House, 1890 to 1930,” in Jessica H. Foy and Thomas J. Schlereth, eds., American Home Life, 1880-1930: A Social History of Spaces and Services (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), 85. 
  24. Donna R. Braden, ““The Family That Plays Together Stays Together”: Family Pastimes and Indoor Amusements, 1890-1930,” in Jessica H. Foy and Thomas J. Schlereth, eds., American Home Life, 1880-1930: A Social History of Spaces and Services (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), 146, 148, 151. Braden quotes Mabel Travis Wood’s introduction to Family Fun: Games and Good Times for Children and Parents (New York: Parents’ Magazine Press, 1931), xii. 
  25. Sarkeesian, “LEGO & Gender Part 2.” 
  26. Calvert, 87, 89. 
  27. Cowan, 212. 
  28. Cowan, 214-215, 218. 
  29. Biographical info from “Rachel Wilson” file, Germantown Historical Society Accession 1995.15. Women’s names can pose an interesting challenge. I have chosen to refer to the meat grinder’s donor as “Rachel Wilson” rather than “Rachel Haines” or a less-wieldy configuration. As a child, she played with the meat grinder, but it was later, as an adult, that she took control of the preservation of her family’s history. I have defaulted to the name she used at that time. I have also used the married name of Wilson’s mother: she is relevant to my interests due to her connection to the Haines family, and she also engaged in activities in the public sphere using that name. 
  30. “Rachel Wilson” file. 
  31. Joseph Haines to William Haines, 1 July 1918, Haverford College Library, Haverford, PA, Quaker Collection, Joseph H. Haines Papers, Coll. No. 950. 
  32. Joseph Haines to William Haines, 1 December 1918, 8 December 1918, JHH Papers. 
  33. Joseph Haines to William Haines, 27 January 1918, 15 December 1918, JHH Papers. 
  34. Cowan, 211. 
  35. In one letter, written in response to the possibility of publishing his letters, Haines noted the routine nature of his correspondence and a disinclination to send his letters through Paris for an additional round of censorship. Self-censorship is implied; Haines felt “it is wiser to play entirely safe with the censor.” Joseph Haines to William Haines, 17 March 1918, JHH Papers. 
  36. Joseph Haines to William Haines, 24 February 1918, 28 April 1918, JHH Papers. 
  37. Joseph Haines to William Haines, 28 April 1918, JHH Papers. 
  38. Joseph Haines to William Haines, 19 May 1918, JHH Papers. 
  39. See for example Joseph Haines to William Haines, 4 January 1917, 2 January 1918, 9 February 1918, 17 February 1918, 24 February 1918, 22 December 1918, 29 December 1918, JHH Papers. 
  40. Finding Aid, Haverford College Library, Haverford, PA, Quaker Collection, Margaret Mary Clark Haines Papers, Coll. No. 950. 
  41. Edith M. Backhouse to Margaret Mary Clark, 11 April 1916, 26 January 1917, MMCH Papers. 
  42. Taylor to Margaret Mary Clark, 20 January 1915, MMCH Papers. 
  43. Accession 1995.15.53, GHS. 
  44. Accessions 1995.15.2, 1995.15.3, 1995.15.6A, GHS. 
  45. Accession 1995.15.34, GHS. 
  46. Accessions 1995.15.19, 1995.14.45, GHS. 
  47. Joseph Haines to William Haines, 17 March 1918, JHH Papers. It is of course possible that Haines simply wished to bypass the censor in Paris but still entertained the possibility of publication. 
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