The Shelbys, like most nineteenth-century Americans, cared a great deal about the material world.
The Shelby family was deeply involved in the history of Kentucky beginning in the colonial era. The first governor, Isaac, was a Revolutionary War hero, and his descendants played prominent roles in the state’s history. The family generated a huge amount of documents as well as many material objects, and their correspondence reveals a complex, nuanced understanding of the importance of the physical world in human history. Their perspectives add to our understanding of environmental history and material culture from the Revolution through the 19th century.