From Pages to Pits: Using Texts and Archaeological Evidence to Examine Interconnected Trading Networks in the mid-Atlantic

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2018

Primary sources have always played an essential role in historical archaeological research, especially those pertaining to commercial networks. Documentation such as store and company ledgers, probate inventories, census records, and oral histories provide detailed first-hand lists of the people, places, and things associated with the development of commercial networks during the 18th and 19th centuries. Material finds from archaeological excavations can add information about consumption within a household and the commercial links utilized in everyday lives. Papers within this session present the results of excavations ranging geographically from the Piedmont to the Eastern Shore of Maryland at sites where inventories and other records are available to facilitate comparisons between the written and archaeological records. By examining these records, presenters explore the consumption patterns of households of the working class as well as economically privileged families and the role of commercial networks in shaping the economy of the wider Atlantic world.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-7 of 7)

  • Documents (7)

  • Bung Borers and Butter Pots: Comparing 18th-century Probate Records with Archaeological Evidence from the Chesapeake (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jane I. Seiter. Paul Albert.

    Probate records from colonial Maryland offer a unique window into the lives of 18th-century property owners. Conducted by appointees of the Prerogative Court, often neighbors of the deceased, inventories give a sometimes idiosyncratic account of a person’s estate subject to the social and cultural prejudices of the appraisers. Juxtaposing archaeological finds recovered from Long Point Farm, an early 18th-century site in Oxford, Maryland, with the 1723 probate inventory of the property’s owner, a...

  • Following the Patterns: A Paper Trail Leading to Domestic Production at Catoctin Furnace (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alexandra V Slepushkina.

    Catoctin Furnace is a historic forge first built in the late 18th century located in the Catoctin Mountains, in Thurmont, Maryland. The purpose of this research is to follow a paper trail in the form of deeds and surviving ledgers from the general store at Catoctin Furnace to determine which families or houses were participating in the domestic production of buttons, clothes, and shoes.Though this research will mostly focus on the Forgeman’s House due to the presence of archaeological...

  • Food at the Furnace: Piecing Together the Working Class Foodways at Catoctin Furnace (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Catherine A Comstock.

    The excavation of the Forgeman’s House, (Site 18FR1043), took place in 2016 in Thurmont, Maryland. Constructed in about 1821, this house has been interpreted as the dwelling of a laborer that worked at Catoctin Furnace. Artifacts that were uncovered included food wastes such as bones, seeds, nuts, corn cobs, and egg shells. Flotation samples taken from the site also yielded further evidence regarding food consumption. In addition to growing their own food, foraging, and trading, those that...

  • It takes a village: Utilizing a synthesis of old and new data to better understand the patterning of workers’ housing of iron furnaces in western Maryland. (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joseph E. Clemens. Zachary S. Andrews.

    The large labor force needed to operate an iron furnace in the late 18th and 19th century necessitated the workforce to live close to the industrial complex they operated.  Information drawn from the surviving structures at Catoctin Furnace, near Thurmont Maryland, along with primary sources such as oral histories, historic maps, company ledgers, and court documents, provides a comparative example for iron furnace villages in the area that are less well preserved.  Understanding the...

  • Lost Legacy: The Search for a Descendant Community (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elizabeth A. Comer.

    Catoctin Furnace is a community at the base of the Catoctin Mountains in Frederick County, Maryland, that descends from a thriving iron-working village. From the furnace’s foundation in 1776, European immigrants and enslaved African-Americans comprised its labor force, producing the iron tools and armaments that powered a growing nation until the furnace’s demise in 1903. From the Revolution until the mid-19th century, the iron furnace and associated agrarian enterprises relied primarily on the...

  • "This strange spirit of procrastination": Alcohol and medicine at Charles Carroll Jr.’s Homewood (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert W. Wanner.

    Using historical and archaeological sources focused on medicine and alcohol use at Homewood in Baltimore, Maryland, this paper tells a multi-layered story of the final years of Charles Carroll Jr.  Following the completion of his house in 1806, Carroll, son of a Maryland signatory of the Declaration of Independence, began a long descent into alcoholism; by 1814, it had fully taken hold of him. He died nearly a decade later. This is also a story about the effects of national trade restrictions...

  • Wanted: Cheap Labor. Livings of Working Class European Immigrants in an Iron Furnace (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jocelyn S Lee. Patrick Kim.

    Immigrants have always played a crucial role in America, and ironworkers were among them. Beginning in the early 19th century, many people emigrated from their countries of origin, bringing with them their traditions, customs, identities, and established households. Populations from Ireland and Germany, accounted for many of the known workers. While census data and tax assessments provide basic information such as name, address, age, and property, the availability of the surviving store and...