Rodris Roth, 69, curator emeritus of domestic life collections at the National Museum of American History's social history division, died of cancer Sept. 13 at her home in Washington.
Ms. Roth, who retired last year, was a native of Minneapolis and a graduate of the University of Minnesota. She received a master's degree in early American culture and decorative arts from the University of Delaware, where she was a fellow in the Winterthur Museum program.
Ms. Roth joined the Smithsonian Institution in 1956 and became a specialist in American furnishings and cultural history. She wrote articles for professional journals on subjects from 18th-century tea drinking etiquette to the social implications of the folding chair.
In 1997, she told a Washington Post interviewer why workaday household objects were considered of historical importance: "Housewares tell us about the role of women, the role of the family, and a lot about their concerns about eating food, which is central in both holding a family together and pushing it apart," she said.
"They also illustrate the changing patterns of rural and urban lifestyles, and show how an era might put its stamp on certain objects in design, function and appearance."
Survivors include two sisters, Quilla Roth of Washington and Jenner Roth of Wilmington, Vt., and London.