In my most recent research I expose changing American
attitudes toward race by following the material objects used at
various times to represent Germans in the United States. To modern
eyes, Germans seem unambiguously “white.” But to many
in the 19th century, Germans were a “colored” race.
Their “whiteness” developed only over time. Using archival
photos, old toys, architectural drawings, world’s fair travel
guides, and site visits to German-American tourist towns, I chart
the material things that come to substitute for and communicate
German racial difference.