Hidden in Plain Sight:
The Material World of Early Springfield



c. 1840-1860
Collection of the Springfield Art Association

This bookcase belonged to Benjamin and Helen Edwards. The presence of books in the home signaled education, refinement, and a commitment to self- improvement, all of which were prized in antebellum America. Poor families might own a Bible and a few treasured volumes; middle-class families might have a bookcase filled with books, and elite families like the Edwards’ had entire rooms devoted to their books. This Gothic Revival-style bookcase was the focal point of the Edwards’ home library.