O is for Opium: Offering More than Education at the Abiel Smith School

Author(s): Dania D. Jordan

Year: 2018


The Abiel Smith, constructed between 1834 and 1835 in Beacon Hill in Boston, MA, is one of the oldest black schools in the United States. The Smith School is central to Beacon Hill’s Black history because it helped Black Bostonians advance in society and negotiate racism through education. However, the Smith School may have served another important role in the Black community. Medicinal bottles excavated from the site suggest that the school administered medicine to students. In the nineteenth century, orthodox medicine was closed off to African Americans causing African Americans to rely on institutions such as churches and almshouses to receive medical care. The bottles found at the Smith School highlight the diverse roles that social institutions played in helping Black Bostonians resist racial discrimination and meet their most basic personal needs.   

Cite this Record

O is for Opium: Offering More than Education at the Abiel Smith School. Dania D. Jordan. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441792)


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): 710