I’m a big material culture nerd, and my focus is on 18th/early 19th-century America. My interests gravitate around the life-cycle of clothing: where they were made, who made them, how did people acquire, use, re-use, and dispose of them.Tracking down the evidence for trade in second-hand clothing in America is one of my passions. (The sale of secondhand clothing is well documented for Britain for hundreds of years, but not so in America until mid-19th century, and I'm still not sure why!)
My current research is focused on records of imprisoned debtors found in the Dutchess County, NY Ancient Documents, from 1721 to 1820. I became interested because of the extensive inventories of clothes and household possessions they left behind in Court Records. However, now I am fascinated by puzzling out the tangle of creditor and debtor relationships that sometimes extend beyond county borders.
I’m hoping that this class will teach me the skills I need to make sense of this large amount of data. I know some Excel Spreadsheet skills, but not nearly enough. And I’m really fascinated by mapping social networks!
Also, I’m the Executive Director of my local historical society, Historic Red Hook. I spend a lot of my time doing graphic design and managing our website and social media-- and with the recent shift to virtual programming, the more digital skills the merrier!