The Center for Material Culture Studies (CMCS) at the University of Delaware is excited to announce the growth of ThingStor: A Material Culture Database for Finding Objects in Literature & Visual Art. Developed by a team of graduate students, alongside Dr. Martin Brückner, ThingStor is a digital humanities project made by and for material culture scholars. Our database will connect object references from literature and visual art to researched object descriptions, representative visual illustrations, and a host of other source information, including: historical context, critical analysis, and critical secondary sources.

BUT WAIT! This database is not just about us. Thingstor is designed to be an interactive and open-access experience for material culture researchers across disciplines, and we want to bring together researchers of all types: faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and archivists. To that end, we invite YOU to participate in the early development of this exciting new digital humanities project!

How to Get Involved:

We need data! That is why we are launching the WANTED: 1,000 OBJECTS initiative. Our goal is to collect the data for 1,000 objects found in literature and visual art. These objects will become the core of ThingStor’s working prototype.

So, when you come across objects like the “London Doll” in Royall Tyler’s play The Contrast, the “Bowie knife” in Harriet Beecher-Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or the “Doucet dress” in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth – share your find with us!

All we ask is that you follow a few, simple guidelines when submitting your object(s):

  • Literary objects must be from fiction, poetry, or drama. Visual art objects may be sourced from prints or paintings.
  • All objects must appear in materials published or produced in British colonial America or the United States from 1688 to 1914.
  • Objects must exist in the physical world.
  • Objects should be unique and specific.

*Not sure if your object qualifies, but think it should because it’s amazing? That’s alright! Send it along and our team will determine if it’s a good fit for the project. We need these parameters to get us started, but be on the lookout for more object-search initiatives as we expand ThingStor’s scope in the future.

Ready to Submit an Object?

It’s easy! Just fill out the ThingStor Object Entry Form.

Answers may be submitted anonymously, and the form should take no more than five-minutes to complete. Feel free to share this form link with your students, colleagues, or any other interested researchers.

If you have any questions about ThingStor or the WANTED: 1,000 OBJECTS initiative, please contact us at materialculture@udel.edu.

Thank you for joining us – we look forward to hearing about your objects!