United States in the World 30: Tangible Things: Harvard Collections in World History
Spring 2015, Fall 2017
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (University Professor; History)
Sara J. Schechner (Curator; Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments / History of Science)
People make history through the things they make, collect, exhibit, exchange, throw away, or ignore. Over four centuries, Harvard has not only amassed books and manuscripts but art works, scientific instruments and specimens, ethnographic objects, and historical relics of all sorts. By learning how and why particular things arrived in Cambridge and what happened to them when they got here, students will discover how material objects have shaped academic disciplines, reinforced or challenged social boundaries, and defined America's place in the world. This is an interactive course, with weekly visits to museums and close-up investigation of specimens and artifacts.