Barbara Johnson’s Album: Material Literacy and Consumer Practice, 1746-1823
This article examines Barbara Johnson’s Album, a prolific record of the dress consumption of a Reverend’s daughter. The Album contains over one-hundred samples of dress fabrics acquired by Johnson between the ages of eight and eighty-five. Interrogated alongside the Johnson family correspondence, and didactic tools produced by Johnson’s mother, this article argues that the Album acted as a material form of account book: conceived as a moral, financial, and material regulator. Considered within the emerging framework of material knowledge and consumer skill, the Album provides important evidence of how consumers maintained and developed their material literacy.