Determining whether, or to what degree, there was a Quaker aesthetic in Philadelphia has challenged scholars for more than half a century. Through their material choices, nineteenth-century Friends consciously and unconsciously conveyed information and ideas about their religious beliefs and the extent of their intersection with non-Quakers to friends, family members, business associates, strangers, and the world at large. An analysis of Philadelphia Quakers’ antebellum photographic consumption, including a comparison with non-Quakers’ selections, reveals that although there was a range of choices of attributes in daguerreotypes among Quakers, their portraits fall at the more restrained end of the spectrum. By choosing a gallery, wearing certain clothing, and opting for a daguerreotype of a particular size and elaboration, Friends balanced their own needs with those of their faith and actively participated in the consumer culture of a major metropolitan area. Their choices invite us to look at how people employed material culture—photographic images and clothing here, but also buildings, landscapes, furniture, and everyday items—and put their imprint on the actions of buying, selling, giving, receiving, and using objects and spaces.


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pp. 237-278
Launched on MUSE
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