In November 1794, a European traveler, Thééophile Cazenove, visited the home of a prosperous Pennsylvania German farmer named Leonard Elmaker. Despite the farmer's wealth, Cazenove described the scene inside the Elmaker home with distaste, noting that "the whole family (seven children) were having a very bad dinner around a very dirty little table, and the furniture in the main room was not worth 200 dollars" (47). According to author Cynthia G. Falk, Cazenove's account echoed the common view of Pennsylvania Germans as industrious but ignorant and "overly thrifty" (47). Such stereotypes privileged ethnic identity as the main factor characterizing the group. Studying reports such as Cazenove's, along with other primary documents (probate inventories, wills, contracts), architecture, and material culture, Falk explores how Pennsylvania Germans used objects to express various sorts of identity in the late eighteenth century.

Falk's primary interest is...

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