Material Culture Culture is printed two times a year for members of PAS:APAL. It is abstracted and indexed in: JSTOR, ProQuest, History and Life, Historical Abstracts, GeoAbstracts, and the MLA International Bibliography. You may download a PDF of the table of contents of the current issue here. The Fall 2023 issue of Material Culture includes:

Hot Garbage: Salt Lake City’s Fight Over Refuse Disposal at Warm Springs and Beyond

By Christopher Merritt, Utah Department of Cultural & Community Engagement

Abstract: Humans have and always will contend with issues of garbage. As populations rise, the amount of material culture increases as well, causing societies to grapple with how to handle the waste streams. Salt Lake City, Utah confronted this problem in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, by attempting various solutions, all of which were fraught with successes and failures. Looking at garbage handling through an anthropological and archaeological lens allows the story of municipal planning and garbage to be a more broadly applicable story, with real physical manifestations in the landscape.

Comparative Historical Geographies of Virginia and Florida through the Lens of Historical Markers

By Samuel M. Otterstrom and Diana Hood, Department of Geography, Brigham Young University

Abstract: This paper compares the thematic content and distribution of historical roadside markers in Florida and Virginia. Both states have state historical marker programs with extensive histories and organized marker designation protocols. We performed content analysis of both states’ historical roadside markers and assigned each marker up to four thematic categories according to the text on the markers. We then compared the percentages of each historical theme in both states to see how they diverged or converged in their relative depiction of history in their states. These differing historical emphases show the distinct histories of Florida and Virginia, even though they are both in a similar region of the country. The marker analyses also illustrate the varied emphasis that those who have managed these historical resources have placed on different elements of their histories, even where both states have had overlapping thematic experiences. Additionally, we classify historical markers according to their relative connection to the local landscape and the represented historical theme, which ratings can be applied to different sets of landmarks in others states and nations.

“Sarasota Woman’s Club” historical marker. Sarasota County, Florida (photo by author).

The Persistence of Use and Adaptive Reuse of Gas Stations: An Example from Western New York

By Brian Coffey, University of Washington at Tacoma (retired) and Darrell Norris, State University of New York at Geneseo (retired)

Introductory paragraph: The component features of America’s roadside landscapes provide a visual history of twentieth century life and society in the United States. The thousands of commercial establishments that have catered to the automobile traveler during this century provide insight into trends in popular culture, the evolution of the nation’s economic system, and the impacts of changes made to the country’s transportation system. They also provide a detailed architectural history of roadside commerce, standing as visual records of the changing form and function of automobile-oriented retail activities. However, early and even recent examples of this architectural genre are disappearing at a rapid rate. The Interstate Highway system brought about the demise of many businesses. Many mom and pop establishments have faced a similar fate as a result of competition from standardized corporate outlets. Even the corporate structures, when judged inefficient, are often razed and replaced with larger, more functional outlets.

[Originally published in Summer 2000 in Material Culture 32 (2): 43-52.]

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