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Citizenship, Race, and Gender in Nantucket, MA, 1774–1883: Archaeology at the Seneca Boston-Florence Higginbotham House

Lecture: ARF Brownbag | October 31 | 12-1 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)


Teresa Bulger, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Archaeological Research Facility


This talk will ask how individuals were engaged in the process of community-building in 18th- and 19th-century Northern Black communities, both in the creation of neighborhoods, institutions, and businesses and the reinterpretation of community ideals within their everyday lives. To do this, I look at the history and archaeology of the families that occupied the Seneca Boston-Florence Higginbotham House in Nantucket Massachusetts from 1774–1883. I consider the different experiences of community of the Boston-Micah household, in the late-18th and early-19th century, in comparison to their successors, the Boston-Douglass and Berry households in the mid-late 19th century. I focus on the ways that the rights of individual citizenship, which were important to free African Americans in the 18th century, became translated into the values of respectability, mutual aid, and self-sufficiency in 19th-century Black communities. These values, in turn, helped to define gender ideologies in these communities in ways that contrasted with dominant White gender ideals. I trace how material culture such as the House itself, the yard-space, personal adornment artifacts, commercial personal care products, and collections of ceramics may have been involved in the assertion of community ideals such as citizenship and personhood at different moments in the history of the Boston family.

Teresa Dujnic Bulger is an historical archaeology graduate student who has worked mostly in the U.S. Northeast on research questions associated with race and gender in the 19th-century. She has also had opportunities to work on some sites here in California with her primary adviser Professor Wilkie. Her dissertation research, which is the subject of today’s talk, is based on the 2008 excavations at the Seneca Boston-Florence Higginbotham House in Nantucket Massachusetts.


twyrick@berkeley.edu