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(Re)Imagining the Material World of Lena Wooster

Author(s): Honora Sullivan-Chin

Year: 2014

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The former homeplace of W.E.B. Du Bois in Great Barrington, Massachusetts is a National Historic Landmark administered by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This paper argues both the great value and inherent difficulty of studying and interpreting the archaeological heritage associated with the Burghardts, a landowning African American family who resided on the small parcel of land in western Massachusetts for almost two centuries. Furthermore, this paper seeks to provide an interpretation of the final period of Burghardt occupancy at the Homesite that is inspired by an alternative methodological approach to the archaeology of the site and a re-imagining of the documentary and material evidence associated with the Homesite. Imagining the participation of Du Bois’s relative Lena Wooster and her family in informal or underground economic activities allows for a greater understanding of the manner in which the Wooster family would have acted as consumers in a racialized post-Civil War consumer economy.

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(Re)Imagining the Material World of Lena Wooster. Honora Sullivan-Chin. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436917)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-37,09

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