Improving Their Lot: Cultivating Communities & Landscape Change in Maine, 1760-1820

Author(s): Megan D. Postemski

Year: 2020


This is a paper/report submission presented at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Frontier landscapes are often portrayed either as ripe for settlement and replete with resources, or as dangerous, harsh peripheries that pioneers adapted to. Given factors like harsh winters and warfare, the latter portrayal dominates narratives of the Eastern Frontier during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. To interrogate notions of a largely intractable frontier environment, I examine how and to what extent Euroamericans modified the Downeast Maine region through settlement and enclosure. Enclosure – the continuous bounding and cultivation of the landscape – structured frontier life and manifests in physical landscape features (e.g., stone walls, fields). To determine how settlement and enclosure unfolded on the frontier, I use historic tax valuation data to trace changes in the land by farmstead, regionally, and diachronically. The data indicate that enclosure proceeded unevenly across frontier towns, complicating portrayals of frontier life and offering insight into how pioneer activities and decision-making became embedded in the landscape.

Cite this Record

Improving Their Lot: Cultivating Communities & Landscape Change in Maine, 1760-1820. Megan D. Postemski. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457389)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

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): 635