Division of Home and Community Life: Collections

The Home and Community Life Collections span an exceptionally broad range of American history subjects. Holdings include household furnishings, furniture, silver, ceramics, glass, appliances, lighting, utensils, childhood artifacts; and objects and documentation related to the manufacturing and merchandizing of household items; clothing manufacturing equipment and merchandising objects; laces and needlework tools; men's, women's, and children's clothing and accessories; patent models; photographs, prints, and trade literature associated with collections; quilts and samplers; and sewing machines and textile manufacturing equipment.

Ethnic and religious communities collections include artifacts produced and/or used by ethnic groups and generally identified with their occupational, domestic, and religious activities, including furniture, architectural elements, food-related devices, clothing, tools, ritual devices, decorations, arts and crafts. Better represented groups include Europeans, Latinos, Arab Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, African Americans, Gypsies, Jews, and Christians, both Catholics and Protestants.

  • Hispanic Designers. Learn about eight well-known Hispanic clothing designers, and see examples of their work from the Museum's costume collection.

Educational, civic, and voluntary organization artifacts are associated with teaching, scouting, youth and fraternal groups, police service, and fire-fighting, and include two complete school rooms, teaching equipment, school desk patent models, text books, uniforms, and insignia. The CIGNA collection of over 3,000 fire-fighting objects charts the changes in fire-fighting history in America from voluntary community organizations to municipally funded and administered, professional organizations.