Material Culture

We can't fit every resource about material culture on to this list! A topic guide is just the beginning of building your bibliography.

Reference materials

This is the place to start any research project. Reference books offer short, authoritative information on every topic. These books must be used in the library. Most contain bibliographies of important books on your topic. A good first stop would be any of the standard print encyclopedias in the Beaver collection: Encyclopedia Americana, World Book or Britannica.


Daily life through world history in primary documents 3 volumes. REF 909 DAI
Encyclopedia of clothing and fashion 3 volumes. REF 391 En1 2005
Schirmer encyclopedia of art 4 volumes. REF 703 Sch3 2002
Worldmark encyclopedia of cultures and daily life 4 volumes. REF 305.8 W89 1998


Britannica Online
Gale Virtual Reference LibraryAmong the relevant reference books indexed in this database are:
Contemporary Fashion
Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture
Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture
World Book Online (on-campus use only)


Books about art and objects will be found in the 700s. Books about history are found in the 900s. Some examples include:

Anderson, Dale. Ancient China 48 pages. 709.31 An3 2005
O'Kane, Bernard. Treasures of Islam : artistic glories of the Muslim world 224 pages. 709.17 OKA
Schlereth, Thomas. Victorian America : transformations in everyday life, 1876-1915 363 pages. 973.8 Sch4 1991


Ask one of the librarians if you need help developing a list of search terms.
General OneFile
Expanded Academic ASAP
Academic OneFile
History Study Center

Internet sites

Beaver librarians recommend these sites, which you can see on our Delicious page!

BPL: Electronic Resources

The Boston Public Library's electronic resources have many excellent sources on material culture. You can sign up online for an ecard and then go to the Electronic Resources page to do one-box searching. You can also check the links on the left side of the page to search one or more subject areas. Some of resources available include:
Art Full Text
Credo Reference
Design and Applied Arts Index
History Resource Center: U.S.
Oxford Art Online


The image above is provided through ARTstore by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.