Smoke is in the Air: Tobacco and Traditional Plant Use in 19th Century Plantation Life


At Ames Plantation in Western TN, excavations on the Fanny Dickins Slave House Site (1841-1853) have yielded a plethora of information about the everyday lives of the enslaved population. However, little is known about the smoking habits of these dynamic individuals. More can be revealed through employing multiple lines of evidence to generate nuanced understandings of choices surrounding the use of specific pipes and the varieties of plants smoked, such as tobacco and jimson weed. Conducting typological and documentary analysis on the origins of these pipes, we draw more robust conclusions about how they reflect choices and consumption patterns. We also bring clarity to these inquiries using gas chromatography—mass spectrometry, a method that identifies specific compounds in organic pipe residues. This multi-dimensional analysis seeks to better understand individual agency, the use of traditional ecological knowledge, and the integration of religious and/or African folk art of these enslaved individuals. 

Cite this Record

Smoke is in the Air: Tobacco and Traditional Plant Use in 19th Century Plantation Life. Claire Norton, Kimberly Kasper, Jon Russ, Jamie Evans. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441717)

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Temporal Keywords
19th Century

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): 706