Birdcages, fish bowls, dog collars, headstones, squirrel cages and chewed furniture – these are the material remains of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century pet ownership. Historic New England Senior Curator of Collections Nancy Carlisle conducted a survey of the holdings of roughly forty New England historical societies and history museums and located more than eighty objects associated with pets. An analysis of the surviving pet-related artifacts reveals surprising attitudes about men and women and about their relationships with pets.
Nancy Carlisle has been a curator for more than twenty-five years at Historic New England, where she oversees roughly 110,000 historic artifacts in thirty-six house museums located in five New England states. She is the author of the award winning book: Cherished Possessions, A New England Legacy and the co-author with Melinda Nasardinov of America’s Kitchens. A lifelong devotion to pets combined with an academic interest in material evidence led her to chase down the stuff of pet ownership in New England.
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