The Role of Time in Plantation Management at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest

Author(s): Karen E. McIlvoy

Year: 2017


In the early decades of the nineteenth century, Southern plantation owners sought to incorporate time consciousness into their production methods in a bid to enter the emerging industrial capitalist economy of the United States. However, mechanical time, regulated by the clock instead of nature, was at odds not only with the natural cycles of the sun, but also with the very institution running the plantation economy: slavery. History documents that plantation managers attempted to use clocks, watches, bells, and even the concept of time itself as a powerful extension of the master’s control over their enslaved workforce both in and out of the agricultural fields, but related artifacts are rarely considered in such a context when archaeologically recovered.  This paper will explore how time played a role in the daily functions of Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest plantation through the available documentary and archaeological evidence.

Cite this Record

The Role of Time in Plantation Management at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest. Karen E. McIlvoy. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435429)

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Temporal Keywords

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): 378