An Historical Archaeology of Minstrelsy

Author(s): Seth Mallios

Year: 2020


This is an abstract from the session entitled "On the Centennial of his Passing: San Diego County Pioneer Nathan "Nate" Harrison and the Historical Archaeology of Legend" , at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

For over a century, the accepted story of Nathan Harrison was that he was a charming yet anachronistic fool. Ironically, even though contradictory details of his pre-Palomar Mountain life were hotly debated, the narratives were in agreement when describing his behavior as his homestead transitioned from a ranch to a destination for tourists. Few accounts suggested that there was anything more than what he offered to the public, and none mentioned that he might be putting on an act for visitors. However, this paper argues that Harrison acted strategically in order to ensure his survival in a most hostile environment for non-whites. Harrison lived an intricate double life, performed an elaborate minstrel act for visitors, and initiated a sequence of gift-giving that both elicited reciprocity and forged essential social bonds. His nuanced blend of deference, adaptation, and manipulation allowed him to be successful where many of his contemporaries had failed.

Cite this Record

An Historical Archaeology of Minstrelsy. Seth Mallios. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457205)


Agency Identity Minstrelsy

Geographic Keywords
United States of America

Temporal Keywords

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): 1084