Sarah Anne CarterAssociate Professor; Executive Director, Center for Design & Material Culture

My interdisciplinary training in American Studies and Material Culture allows me to consider a wide range of sources as I investigate histories of children and childhood, museums, domestic interiors and the home, and American social and cultural life more broadly. I am currently working on two new projects, an article on the history of the Practice Cottage at the School of Human Ecology and a new book that will offer an affective or emotional history of the American museum, tentatively called “Museum Feelings.”

In addition to my recent book, Object Lessons: How Nineteenth-Century Americans Learned to Make Sense of the Material World (Oxford, 2018) and my coauthored book, Tangible Things: Making History Through Objects (Oxford, 2015), I am co-editor with Ivan Gaskell of the newly released thirty-essay collection, the Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture. My work has also appeared in Common-PlaceAvidly (a channel of the LA Review of Books), and the Washington Post.

Prior to joining SoHE, I was the Curator and Director of Research at the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I collaboratively curated many museum exhibitions and directed Chipstone’s Think Tank Program in support of progressive curatorial practice. I have been working in and around museums since I was thirteen years old and am very curious about the ways objects are used to convey information and tell stories.

Select publications

Sarah Anne Carter, Object Lessons: How Nineteenth-Century Americans Learned to Make Sense of the Material World (Oxford University Press 2018).

Sarah Anne Carter, “Mrs. M.—–’s Cabinet: Imagining a Feminist Period Room,” Feminism and Museums: Intervention, Disruption and Change, Vol. II (MuseumsEtc 2018) 144-161.

Laurel Ulrich, Ivan Gaskell, Sara Schechner, and Sarah Anne Carter, Tangible Things: Making History through Objects with (Oxford University Press 2015).

Sarah Anne Carter, “Picturing Rooms: Interior Photography 1870–1900,” History of Photography 34:3 (2010) 251-267.

Classes Taught

  • Course number: SOHE 501: Course title: The Material Culture or Childhood
  • Course number: DS 422: Course title: History of Architecture and Interiors II


  • Design Studies

Degree Program

  • MFA Human Ecology: Design Studies
  • PhD Human Ecology: Design Studies


  • American Studies Association
  • Society for the History of Children and Youth


  • PhD, American Studies, Harvard University
  • MA, History, Harvard University
  • MA, Early American Material Culture, University of Delaware and the Winterthur Museum
  • AB, History, Harvard University


Office: 1235A Nancy Nicholas Hall

Phone: 608-262-1162



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