Exploring the Evolving Urban Landscapes of Boston and Salem

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2014

Boston and Salem, Massachusetts, were two of the most high-profile port cities along the eastern seaboard during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Their commercial and political prominence was a catalyst for continual ethnic, economic, and landscape change, the evidence of which has been largely erased from the visible landscape. The papers in this session, which include the results of excavations at the Paul Revere House, the Boston African American Historical Site, and ‘The Big Dig’ in Boston, as well the Philips House in Salem, explore how the historical dynamism of both cities survives buried in the archeological record, often in excellent states of preservation. From ceramic, architectural, and ‘intimate effects’ assemblages recovered from discrete privy contexts to complex stratigraphic and feature sequences, these sites speak to evolving ideas about property organization, privacy, and personal choice rooted in the complex interplay of gender, ethnic, and racial identification.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-5 of 5)

  • Documents (5)

  • Health Conscious: A Look Inside the Privy at 71 Joy Street (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Danielle Cathcart.

    In addition to the African Meeting House (AMH), 71 Joy Street is one of the only domestic sites associated with free African Americans for which any archaeological evidence exists from Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood. The standing brick structure was built in 1840 as a single-family dwelling that was occupied by members of the free black community until 1878 when Wendell T. Coburn sold the property to William J. Rounds. In 2006, archaeologists discovered the brick-lined privy...

  • Knee Deep in Paul Revere’s Privy(?): Archaeology of the Paul Revere Houselot, Boston, Massachusetts (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nichole Gillis. Kristen Heitert.

    The Paul Revere houselot is situated in the North End of Boston, one of the oldest English-settled areas of the city. Paul Revere purchased the property in 1770 and lived there with his family from 1770’1780, but his was not the first and certainly not the last family to occupy the parcel. Archaeological investigations within portions of the former Revere houselot resulted in the recovery of thousands of domestic, personal, and structural artifacts dating from the seventeenth through nineteenth...

  • Living in the North End: Lessons in Urban Archaeology (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Heather Olson. Kate Erickson.

    The Paul Revere House, located in an area colloquially referred to as Boston’s ‘North End,’ sits in one of the oldest, continuously occupied areas of the City. The surrounding neighborhood has undergone significant cultural and geographical changes over the centuries, and this paper will attempt to discern some of those changes through the archaeological record. An examination of select materials recovered from a clay- and wood-lined barrel privy identified within the boundaries of the original...

  • Looking Forward Through the Past: A Re-Examination of Boston’s Archaeological Collections and Contributions (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Poulsen. Joseph Bagley.

    The archaeological study of Boston has provided unique insights into the lifeways of a 400-year old urban metropolis and contributes greatly to urban archaeological method and theory. Thirty years of survey at the African Meeting House re-defined what it meant to be a free person of African ancestry in the mid nineteenth century, while the Faneuil Hall excavations produced mountains of artifacts dating to the City’s first 100 years. The monumental excavations conducted as part of Boston’s ‘Big...

  • Phillips House: A Twentieth-Century Property with a Buried Past (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Elam.

    As part of a larger landscape restoration project, PAL completed archaeological investigations at the Phillips House in Salem, Massachusetts. Currently owned and managed by Historic New England, the primary period of interpretive significance for the property dates to the Phillips family tenure, ca.1911’1955. During its twentieth-century occupancy, the rear yard of the house was used as a domestic work space and contained structures associated with laundry, gardening, storage, and small animal...