Archaeologies of the Written Word: Examining the Importance of Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Literature

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2014

When historical archaeologists study the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they typically focus on the physical materials that people living in the nineteenth century unintentionally left behind. But what about the writings that reflect the worldviews that were prevalent at the time? The aim of this session is to take a critical look at materials written in the nineteenth and early twentieth century to examine how they can be used to help archaeologists make interpretations about the past. This session will explore how literature written in the past can help archaeologists understand cultural values of the time, and how the writings of these authors can be used to theorize the past, the present, and interpretations of the past in the present. Through a critical read of these materials, archaeologists can examine the influences of nineteenth and early twentieth century thinkers, both on their contemporaries, and on archaeologists who use them to study this time period.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-6 of 6)

  • Documents (6)

  • Archaeologies of Conflicting Ideologies: Frederick Douglass as a Contemporary Post-Colonial Thinker (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Benjamin Skolnik.

    One of the more prolific writers of the 19th Century was Frederick Douglass. Douglass devoted his career to the abolition of slavery and equality for African Americans. As Archaeology in Annapolis turns to Douglass’s writings to help locate and interpret the sites he describes in his autobiographies, we are increasingly recognizing Douglass’ importance not just as a guide to 19th Century quarters and plantations, but to understanding the ways in which ideologies can be understood, combated,...

  • Cookbooks and Collective Action: An Examination of Cooking Traditions from The Coal Region Of North Eastern Pennsylvania (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Justin Uehlein.

    In this paper I will discuss the potential for period cookbook use in 19th and 20th century archaeology. I will draw on cookbooks from the coalmining region of North Eastern Pennsylvania, a place many different European immigrant groups were drawn towards in order to find work. The coal industry, in which many became employed, has historically been known for the poor working environment inherent to mine work as well as the labor struggles that have arisen owing to those conditions. In this paper...

  • Free Black Perspectives in Easton, Maryland (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tracy Jenkins. Stefan Woehlke.

    Since 2011, Archaeology in Annapolis has been researching a free African American neighborhood known as The Hill in Easton, Maryland, that was established before 1790. At the invitation of local community members, archaeologists were brought into the project to work with local residents and scholars from Morgan State University conducting documentary, oral, and architectural history. The goal is to use research and the remembrances of the past to promote community preservation and development...

  • “Sometimes paths last longer than roads” : William S. Burroughs for an Archaeology of Modernity (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Palus.

    American writer William S. Burroughs (1914-1997) expressed a terror at modernity and also a suite of tactics for escaping some of its confines. This literary mode is common among many of the Beats, but Burroughs wrote in a visionary, experimental style that conveyed an epistemology of his own, and one that is both available and appropriable for historical archaeological investigation of different elements of modern American life. Though very much a post-war literary movement, the Beat writers...

  • ‘The Talented Tenth’: Exploring the Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington in Annapolitan Archaeology (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kathryn Deeley.

    During the 19th and early 20th century, scholars like W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington offered blueprints for other African Americans to follow based on what they think will allow the African American race to progress into the future. The works of Du Bois and Washington therefore provide historical contextual examples for how the practices of everyday life could have been carried out. Understanding what these African American thinkers were promoting, and whom these frameworks would have...

  • Understanding African American Archaeology and Archaeological Education in Washington, DC through the Influences of Booker T. Washington (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mary Furlong.

    Since his speech to the Cotton States Exposition in 1895, Booker T. Washington has been an important, yet controversial figure in African American history and political thought. Washington’s speeches and writings, his personal relationships and visits to Washington, DC had a major influence on African American communities lying on the east side of the capital city during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This influence can be seen in the archaeology of these communities. Additionally,...