Archaeologies of Workers’ Housing

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

Archaeologists have frequently examined the evidence for agricultural and industrial workers, but there have been national and regional differences in focus. In some places the standing buildings and degree of settlement planning have been the primary concern, in others the artefactual assemblages associated with any structures have dominated discussion. This symposium draws out the social and symbolic significance of the workers’ housing, whether provided by employers, speculators, or constructed by the occupiers themselves. It emphasises the ways in which space was conceived, manipulated, adapted and used, and the insights that can be gained from analysis of the structures and the spatial arrangement of artefacts within and around them. The perspectives of architects, owners and occupants can all be considered within this rich and plentiful resource that has not always received the degree of attention it deserves.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-14 of 14)

  • Documents (14)

  • The Archaeology of Gendered Resistance at the Industrial Mine in Superior, CO (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Laura E Vernon.

    The Industrial Mine at Superior, operating from 1895 to 1945, was one of many coal mines situated within a region known as the Colorado Northern Coal fields. It is exceptional only in that it was one of the largest coal producers in the area and because it was the sole mine in the region with both a company town and company store. This paper examines how camp housing structured the lives of women living at the Industrial Mine, as well as how women altered the camp. Through their gendered...

  • The Archaeology of Working Class Identity at the Industrial Coal Mining Camp in Superior, Colorado (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jenna R. Wheaton.

    The history of coal mining in Colorado is a substantial portion of the narrative of the state’s history and broader labor issues that are still relevant today. This paper will study how working class identity is negotiated and revealed through material and spatial remains of worker housing at the Industrial Mine in Superior, Colorado. The Industrial Mine was in operation from 1895 to 1945 and played a key role in the development of labor unions and laws, which laid the foundation for the modern...

  • Convict Housing at Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia: a study in the context of British workers’ and American slave accommodation (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Harold Mytum.

    Parramatta was even more successful than Sydney in the late 18th century, during the early days of the British colony. After a short period of ad hoc settlement around the farm at Rose Hill, Parramatta was laid out as a planned settlement on a grid pattern. Several early convict cabins have been excavated, and early maps and illustrations indicate the settlement’s layout and appearance, with neatly spaced cabins and the Governor’s House as a central focus. This arrangement can be compared with...

  • From Saint Domingue to Frederick, Maryland: Tracing Architectural Detail (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Megan M. Bailey.

    Recent excavations at Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick, Maryland, revealed slave quarters associated with L’Hermitage, an 18th-19th c. plantation. L’Hermitage was owned by the Vincendière family, who settled in Maryland after having abandoned their plantations in Saint Domingue (present-day Haiti) to escape increasingly urgent slave rebellions. A careful study of these dwellings provides an opportunity to illuminate two important aspects of the built environment. First, I will explore...

  • Housing for the metal trades in the industrial colony of Parkwood Springs, 1860-1970 (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Katherine Fennelly.

    This paper will explore housing for working-class metal workers in Sheffield. The focus of the paper will be the nineteenth-century industrial colony of Parkwood Springs in north Sheffield, in the United Kingdom. Residential housing was constructed on the Parkwood Springs site to house workers employed in metal trades. The neighbourhood was isolated, as access was limited to a road tunnel running under a railway bridge, and later a footbridge - the primary route for local school children to the...

  • Incorporating Laborers: Saunas in Industrial Finland (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Timo Ylimaunu. Paul R. Mullins. Tiina Äikäs. Titta Kallio-Seppä.

    Since the late 19th century most Finnish industrial areas have had one distinctive and important building—sauna—that was as important to workers as to the company’s officials. Industrial spaces had usually separated workers’ housing areas and many cases saunas were separately located from the housing and industrial spaces; most likely because of the danger of fire. We will discuss the importance and role of saunas for the industrial communities in Finland. In some industrial areas workers had...

  • Interpreting The Constructs For Enslaved Worker Housing In Virginia (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Douglas W. Sanford.

    Scholars from the fields of archaeology, architectural history, and history have established common categories and cultural conditions for the building types used to house enslaved African Americans in Virginia between the 17th century and the American Civil War.  This paper examines architectural, political, and social constructs deemed critical to understanding both the diversity and the patterning of Virginia slave housing.  Recent research regarding surviving slave buildings, together with...

  • Living on the Landlord’s Island: Creation of the Island Home and Improvement in 18th to 20th Century Irish Residential Housing (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ian Kuijt.

    If, as Henry Glassie argues, community is the space between hearths of Irish houses, then in many ways it was the landlord who framed the spatial geography and materiality of the 19th Irish household.  From 1750 to around 1910, individual absentee landlords owned the substantial islands of Inishturk, Inishbofin and Inishark inhabited by between 300 to 2,500 people.  As owners of these remote islands, and the villages and houses on their shores, the landlord leased land and seaweed rights, and...

  • The looming question of housing the workforce: early workers' housing in the Derwent Valley (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Suzanne Lilley.

    Often cited as the archetypical expression of industrial accommodation, textile workers’ housing has provided a lens through which the social effects of industrialisation have been examined. Such houses have often been interpreted as either exploitative hovels or wholesome patronly investments. Within this polarizing discourse, the lived experiences of occupants frequently remains divorced from analysis of form and function.    Using a buildings-led approach, this paper investigates workers’...

  • The New Normal: Seeking Household Experiences of Inter-war Public Housing (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Emma Dwyer.

    The 1920s and 1930s saw the renewal of large parts of Britain’s housing stock. In Birmingham, England, new housing projects were constructed in the suburbs, each home having three bedrooms, bathroom, indoor lavatory, garden, and local amenities – a contrast to the back-to-back housing in the centre of Birmingham that new suburban homes sought to replace. The back-to-backs were seen as crowded and insanitary, children sharing bedrooms with adults and non-family lodgers. The form and fabric of new...

  • Post-Construction Chinese Worker Housing on the Central Pacific Railroad: 1870-1900 (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Polk.

    The construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad in the world, from Omaha, Nebraska, to Sacramento, California, was one fraught with difficulties, involving tens of thousands of workers. When it was completed in May 1869, the Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) portion of the line, between Ogden, Utah and Sacramento, California, retained many ethnic Chinese workers for operations and maintenance work. Housing for workers during construction was not consistent, however after construction the...

  • Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Church Crookham; Housing the British Army's Gurkha Regiments (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Deirdre A Forde.

    In 2004, an archaeological investigation and recording began of the barracks at Church Crookham in Hampshire prior to its demolition. Although these simple 1930s structures were of limited intrinsic architectural significance, as a collection of structures the site was of considerable historical and social interest. Hastily constructed before the outbreak of World War II, its function changed over time. Notably, between 1970 and 2000, the barracks housed Gurkha regiments, military units of the...

  • The Townhouse and London Worker: Towards an Archaeology of the London Home (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Charlotte J Newman.

    The townhouse is an icon in the London landscape.  Constructed on mass throughout the city, the townhouse was often designed as a flexible space to accommodate the ever changing needs of the Londoner.  Across the social spectrum, the complex negotiation between domestic, commercial and industrious space defined the evolution of the townhouse.  For the working or modest middling classes, the town house often became a multifaceted space accommodating trade, industry, lodgers, and owners, whilst...

  • Worker’s Housing and Class Struggle in the Northern Forest (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only LouAnn Wurst.

    Worker’s housing is the material embodiment of the contradictions and class struggle between capital and labor. These contradictions stem from capital’s goal of securing cheap and reliable labor while workers strive for higher wages and gaining a measure of control and autonomy over their own lives. Archaeologists tend to overly simplify these complex social relations by uncritically adopting common ideological descriptions such as paternalism or overusing dualisms like dominance and resistance....