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We Might Be Mad Here: An Archaeological Investigation of Institutional Life in the Northeast

Author(s): Rachel W Manning

Year: 2016

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The establishment of almshouses in the United States provided a way for states to offer housing to their poor and destitute populations. Throughout the 20th century, most of these establishments changed their function, with many of them morphing into asylums for the mentally insane. Grave assemblages have been collected through archaeological excavations, typically when significant changes are expected to be made to what was once property of the almshouse. This study compares the artifact assemblages of three contemporaneous almshouses: the Oneida and Onondaga County Almshouses of New York State and the Uxbridge Almshouse of Massachusetts. While the associated artifacts are fairly similar in type and quantity, a significantly higher quantity of white celluloid buttons found only with the Oneida assemblage may indicate that these graves were not associated with the almshouse, but rather were from a period when the building was used as a state insane asylum.

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Cite this Record

We Might Be Mad Here: An Archaeological Investigation of Institutional Life in the Northeast. Rachel W Manning. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434864)


Temporal Keywords
19th Century

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 651

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America