Mary E. Raker

Making connections through the study of objects

Throughout history people have been fascinated with objects, from the visual attributes, to the people who owned them.

Looking at the style that an object was made in, and what materials were used to create it can be helpful during rsearch of a particular era. It can tell you what was valued in a household, a place of worship, and in a political setting. While looking at these sections of material culture research we can also look into the ownership of the object. And often times, the people who owned these objects had quite a history attached to themselves.

New England has a plethora of material objects to study and research. One particular object, The Joseph and Bathsheba Pope Valuables Cabinet, holds a unique connection weaved into it, and its three sister cabinets. This cabinet, and its sisters form connections between the Quaker Prosecutions, the Salem Witch Trails, the founder of Salem, and finally, Benjamin Franklin. In my presentation I will be discussing these unique connections that this cabinet brings to life, and how as students of history, we should at some point look to the objects that surround events and use them to build connections in the past, and utilize them in the present.

Mary E. Raker, ( is an Undergraduate Public History Student at Salem State University, and is the secretary of the Student Historical Association on campus.

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