Date of Award
Open Access Thesis
Master of Arts (MA)
Judith F. Zeitlin
Following the American Revolution, the new gender ideologies of Republican Motherhood and the Cult of Domesticity gained in popularity that associated men with the public sphere and relegated women to the private domestic sphere. Women were now tasked with the important job of raising the future citizens of the fledgling Republic. The quality of family and home life took on extra importance, and the elaboration of meals and the ceramics used in these rituals changed accordingly. This thesis analyzes the table and tea wares from an archaeological assemblage located in upstate New York that dates to the turn of the 19th century. Based on dates derived from analysis, the archaeological assemblage was attributed to the Pomeroy family. A widow-headed household, the table and tea wares during this time period allow an understanding of how Anna Pomeroy participated in these changing gender roles and adapted to these new ideologies. Building on current theories in gender archaeology, this thesis discerns how Anna Pomeroy chose to represent herself in this new role based on her consumer choices. The table wares exhibit matched sets and elaboration of design and vessel function, all evidence of the increase of importance of the domestic realm. The tea wares contain high-end porcelains and matched sets, exhibiting how Anna used the ritual of taking tea to establish ties within the community while also putting on display her refinement of character. The practice of taking tea was often discounted as frivolous activity, but the relationships women established within these social gatherings allowed alliances to form that would have ramifications within the public sphere. In a society in which it was expected that widows remarry, Anna did not. Instead she chose to invest in the domestic visual display of the tea ceremony in order to exert her influence within community. Anna Pomeroy was able to use the accepted ideology of Republican Motherhood to negotiate her place in society and keep the independence that was afforded to her as a widow.
Sullivan, Megan E., ""She of Gentle Manners": An Examination of the Widow Pomeroy's Table and Tea Wares and the Emerging Domestic Sphere in Kinderhook, New York" (2012). Graduate Masters Theses. 148.