Space, Memory, and Photography: A Cross Disciplinary Approach to Analyzing Mid-Century Domestic Life in Florida


ABSTRACT Oral history, when combined with other disciplines like Sociology, Architecture, Anthropology, and Photography, can uncover often-neglected elements of our past leading to breakthroughs in preservation projects. Oral history works with other disciplines (i.e. photography and studies of domestic space) to help us understand the layers of memory and history. This article aims to demonstrate how a methodological approach can coalesce three different disciplines—photography, oral history, and domestic space—to provide a unique, more intimate narrative of the use of the domestic spaces of historically unknown individuals in the 1950s. Usually, architectural historians present information visually through drawings, photographs, books, and other forms of written sources. Rarely do architectural historians use oral narratives in their works. For this reason, readers who have not really considered architectural and oral history within the same context will be interested to learn about this cross-disciplinary approach. Using a case study of one family’s personal photo albums, their elicite memories, and their house, this article employs what I have termed a tripod methodology to examine the century-old home of the Eaton Family, long-time residents of the historic Duck Pond community in Gainesville, Florida. Although this paper features only one model, the tripod approach can go in many directions as needed for future research areas like preservation, historical, and anthropological studies, etc. This study serves as an example of how this methodology helps us better understand the 1950s and 60s domestic life in Florida by closely examining one historic home—the Eaton House.