The Stagville Plantation Stores: Shopping in the Shadow of the Big House

Author(s): Anna Agbe-Davies

Year: 2016


The Bennehan-Cameron family fortune started with a single store in the 18th-century North Carolina Piedmont.  Over several generations, their wealth expanded to include the ownership of up to 900 individuals, scattered across many farms in several states.  This paper examines the intersection between these two spheres: an emergent consumer society and the institution of slavery.  People owned by the Bennehans, Camerons, and their neighbors are among the purchasers enumerated in daybooks and ledgers from their stores (1792-1892).   

These texts capture how African American consumers at Stagville—pre-Emancipation and during Jim Crow—fashioned lives with the things that they bought.  Complimentary information comes from the archaeological record.  Together they reveal how enslaved consumers supplemented provisions they received from those who claimed to own them.  In combination these two datasets show how consumer choices changed over time, and the extent to which records capture goods that are archaeologically "invisible."

Cite this Record

The Stagville Plantation Stores: Shopping in the Shadow of the Big House. Anna Agbe-Davies. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434576)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 88