Glass Bottles at the McHugh Site: Patent Medicines, Frontier Health, and 19th Century Popular Culture
Author(s): Robert Vander Heiden
Patent medicine bottles offer a window into the popular culture of 19th Century America and highlight the ways in which otherwise isolated populations were connected into broader social and economic networks. Settlers on the Wisconsin frontier in the mid-to-late 19th century had limited access to formal health care. Physicians who did provide services to remote populations were often poorly trained and had a limited understanding of the causes of many diseases. Thus, self-medication and alternative forms of health care became an attractive option for many frontier occupants. As a result of rapid industrialization during this period, many groups of immigrants were forced to abandon their ancestral ethnic identities and assimilate to a more homogeneous capitalistic American culture. This paper illustrates how patent medicine bottles recovered from the McHugh site provide an indication of how the McHugh family responded to the need for health care under the harsh conditions of frontier life in northeastern Wisconsin during the mid-to-late 19th century. Moreover, this analysis shows how broadly changing social conditions as well as the emergence of American popular culture may have shaped how the McHughs conceptualized ideas of sickness and disease.
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Glass Bottles at the McHugh Site: Patent Medicines, Frontier Health, and 19th Century Popular Culture. Robert Vander Heiden. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445081)
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min long: -103.975; min lat: 36.598 ; max long: -80.42; max lat: 48.922 ;
Abstract Id(s): 22300