Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Michael Ann Williams, Burt Feintuch, James Leary

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Fieldwork was undertaken in the state of Wisconsin to document and interpret privately owned and displayed collections. Collections were comprised of various types of objects, most commonly artworks created and/or collected by the collection owners. These collections often take on an environmental scope, occupying private spheres such as collection owners' homes or outbuildings. An examination of environmental type collections that are housed in bars was also undertaken.

Collections of this specific type are culturally and locally significant. The objects in the collections and the collection owners address and provide important information on such local or regional subjects as history, local storytelling practices, and local aesthetics. These collections also serve as natural repositories for the objects of various folkgroups relevant to the region. In this thesis that region is defined as the state of Wisconsin, and those folkgroups examined include occupational, recreational, and ethnic communities. Personal museums are one way that members of these communities preserve, display, interpret, and reaffirm their personal involvements in those groups. Collectors preserve and display tangible evidence of the significance of these communities and their affiliations with those groups. In this thesis I advocate a closer examination of personal museums by teachers, anthropologists, folklorists, and others interested in artifacts of culture.


Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Anthropology Commons