An artefact is any item made by humans. It can prompt memories and reflect family and community histories that provide information about people’s experiences, ways of life and their relationships with the environment that may not be recorded in written historical accounts. By studying artefacts, we gain an insight into the technologies and lifestyles of particular groups or times.
Because artefacts are portable they can easily be sold, relocated or thrown away during changes of ownership, fashion or use. Ben and Elizabeth Chifley lived a simple and frugal lifestyle that reflected the period of the Depression followed by the rationing of World War II and the Chifley Home is fortunate in retaining everyday items used by the Chifleys during the 1940’s. Many of these items are featured during the tour of the house providing an insight into domestic life in the 1940’s.
Items at the Chifley Home provide an opportunity to focus on changes in many household technologies including radios, keeping of food, clothes washing, heating and lighting.
A framework for studying artefacts
1. Inquiry Questions (answer questions from personal interpretation before researching the item):
- What is it?
- Where would it have been found?
- What is/was it used for?
- Who uses/used it?
- How does it work?
- What other objects were used at the time?
- What do we use now for the same or similar purpose?
2. Talk to people who used the item or who remember its history.
3. Research the history of the local area or community to provide the context of the item OR research the history of the item from its invention to its current form noting the historical changes that influenced the changing design.