Up Close and Personal: Objects as Expressions of Identity at the Abiel Smith School

Author(s): Alicia Paresi; Jessica Costello

Year: 2018

Summary

 Archeological artifacts discovered at the Abiel Smith School (ca. 1834-1855) include personal objects like jewelry, buttons, combs, and toys.  Such items used for adornment, grooming, or leisure can provide insight into how the students perceived themselves in terms of individual, communal, and ethnic identity.  This paper will examine these objects as a means to answering the following questions:  Can specific personal objects help us understand the students’ cultural backgrounds?  To what extent did these Black schoolchildren and/or their parents use personal items to express ethnic heritage or even individual personalities?  To what extent did they strive to dress and act according to the cultural norms set by respectable white society?   As an all-Black institution, did the Smith School encourage, or allow, expressions of Black culture, and what did that mean in 19th-century Boston? 

Cite this Record

Up Close and Personal: Objects as Expressions of Identity at the Abiel Smith School. Alicia Paresi, Jessica Costello. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441795)

Keywords

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): 472