Zara Anishanslin, How Historians Read Historical Sources

In this podcast from Ben Franklin’s World, host Liz Covart interviews Professor Zara Anishanslin of CUNY’s College of Staten Island about her research on material culture, and in particular silk designer Anna Maria Garthwaite. In the process, we’re going to hear about how historians read historical sources.

The podcast’s website tells us what we’re going to learn in this episode:

What You’ll Discover

  • What historians mean by “material culture”
  • Primary and secondary historical sources
  • How historians classify material culture as a historical source
  • The story of the “portrait of a woman in silk,” Ann Shippen WIlling
  • Details about 18th-century fashion and portraiture
  • Ann Shippen Willing of Philadelphia
  • Robert Feke, painter
  • How to read a portrait as a historical source
  • Anna Maria Garthwaite, silk designer
  • How Zara traced the silk design in Ann Shippen Willing’s portrait to Anna Maria Garthwaite
  • How to think like a historical detective and read historical sources
  • What a will can tell us about Anna Maria Garthwaite’s life
  • How reading between the lines in Garthwaite’s will tells us more about her life
  • Coverture and women’s rights in the 18th century
  • Life of silk designers
  • 18th-century consumer culture
  • English-French rivalry
  • How North America influenced English fashion
  • How historians resolve conflict between historical sources
  • Luke Sweetland, Native American captive & Revolutionary War soldier
  • How historians maintain objectivity when they research people
  • Tips for maintaining objectivity when reading historical sources

The podcast is here.

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