Memory and Materiality at Mary’s City of David

Author(s): Heather Van Wormer

Year: 2018


Mary’s City of David is a millenarian commune in Michigan, founded in 1903 and re-organized in 1930. As with all intentional communities, material culture (i.e., architecture, clothing, landscapes) serves as an active medium to both reflect and reinforce social ideals, and community members are keenly aware of the symbolic meanings represented. At their peak, the Benton Harbor colony sent out preachers to spread the word, bands to spread the music, and baseball teams to spread the game. These journeys are marked in various ways in the colony landscape and architecture. Additionally, social and collective memories serve to reinforce their beliefs. Individuals that are no longer living or events that happened long ago are commonly remembered—often triggered by material objects, landscapes, plantings, or specific places at the colony. This serves to not only reinforce social and religious ideology in the present, but is also a theological promise for the future. In this paper I explore these material expressions of "home" and "community" in both the past and present colony and their central place in promoting and reinforcing community through social memory.

Cite this Record

Memory and Materiality at Mary’s City of David. Heather Van Wormer. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444665)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -168.574; min lat: 7.014 ; max long: -54.844; max lat: 74.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20802