The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) at Old Salem Museums & Gardens has been an important contributor to American material culture studies for over fifty years. Primary to the museum’s research initiatives are its databases recording craftspeople working in the early South and the objects they made. Both the MESDA Object Database and MESDA Craftsman Database are available online for free. This workshop with Gary Albert and Kim May will introduce MESDA databases and provide tips for using objects to tell the stories of people who often do not have a voice in the traditional historic narrative.
Gary Albert is the Director of Research for the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts at Old Salem. He has written on early American decorative arts for scholarly publications, edited significant books on American material culture, and presented on the topic at numerous conferences and forums across the country.
Kim May is the Manager of the MESDA Research Center at Old Salem Museums & Gardens. She also serves as the assistant editor for the museum’s scholarly publication, the Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts.