Black Virginians and Locally Made Ceramics in the Shenandoah Valley

Author(s): Matthew Greer

Year: 2018


One thing for which Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is known is its active antebellum ceramic industry. While predominantly German and Scots-Irish peoples colonized the region from the 1730’s onward, it was the Germans who brought their potting traditions to the Valley. By 1745, German potters began to fill local needs for ceramics, a trade which grew in importance over the next century and a half. These vessels took on more than just utilitarian roles, as choosing to purchase locally made ceramics over imported wares allowed Valley residents to perform various ethnic, regional, and racial identities. As a result, researchers portray these pots as inherently White things, made by Germans for Germans (and their Scots-Irish neighbors). This does not hold up, however, when we add Black Virginians into the picture. From free Black potters and enslaved peoples who labored for White potters to enslaved consumers who bought local vessels for themselves, Black Virginians in the Valley regularly interacted with these ceramics. This paper explores the connections between Shenandoah Valley ceramics and free / enslaved peoples, allowing us to view these vessels in a new light - one which better reflects the region’s diversity.

Cite this Record

Black Virginians and Locally Made Ceramics in the Shenandoah Valley. Matthew Greer. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442945)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22353