Man's Search for Family History Depends on Unusual Clue

Oct 20, 2012

As a student of material culture, Lake Effect contributor Gianofer Fields examines the meanings behind objects - what they signify historically and to an individual. But what happens when the meaning of a treasured object is hidden and lost to time?

A unique rosary is one man's only link to his grandmother's past.
A unique rosary is one man's only link to his grandmother's past.
Credit Gianofer Fields

As Fields finds out in this installment of "It's a Material World," you go on a hunt - a different kind of treasure hunt, if you will. And what better place to begin, than a store that holds a veritable treasure trove of previously loved items - though this one is marked not with an X, but a J.

Fields introduces us to Arlin Calvin, Melissa Donahue and John Taylor of J Taylor’s Antiquities, Notable Books and Rare Maps, in Madison.

Fields studies material culture at UW-Madison and the curator of "It's a Material World" - that project is funded by the Chipstone Foundation, a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.