Blue Willow Vessels and Life’s Other Mysteries: Understanding high value ceramics and their role in identity formation within contexts of company town economic deprivation

Author(s): V. Camille Westmont

Year: 2018

Summary

Historical archaeologists have long recognized the connection between material culture and identity. Ceramics, in particular, have the opportunity to inform researchers about economic choices, consumer decisions, and societal trends. However, when looking at communities that experience social and economic deprivation, the presence of (oftentimes more expensive) decorated vessels can cause confusion. Excavations conducted in 2016 focusing on the poorest workers’ housing in a coal company town in Northeastern Pennsylvania’s anthracite region have recovered a number of seemingly matching, yet not actually matching, decorated vessels, including whitewares decorated in the iconic Blue Willow pattern. Here I suggest that the presence of these seemingly anomalous items provides insight into consumers views of themselves, their class and social aspirations, and the ways identity and taste is developed and negotiated.

Cite this Record

Blue Willow Vessels and Life’s Other Mysteries: Understanding high value ceramics and their role in identity formation within contexts of company town economic deprivation. V. Camille Westmont. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441187)

Keywords

Temporal Keywords
1870-1920

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): 500