Date of Award
Campus Access Thesis
Master of Arts (MA)
David B. Landon
Diana D. Loren
A study of the personal adornment assemblage from the archaeological excavations of the Hancock-Clarke House (HCL) in Lexington, Massachusetts was conducted in order to determine how two influential ministers, Reverends John Hancock and Jonas Clarke, were utilizing adornment and clothing throughout the eighteenth century. Were they displaying their power and high status through fashionable accessories or were they maintaining a modest appearance to set an example of piousness and humility for the community? This study focuses on identity and presentation and its balance with the growing consumerism in a heavily religious society. Rev. Hancock was Lexington's religious leader and most respected citizen from his arrival in 1698 to his death in 1752. His successor, Rev. Clarke, lived up to Hancock's example and was the town's religious and political leader from 1755 to his death in 1805. The Lexington Historical Society (LHS) acquired the HCL in 1897.
Roland Robbins excavated the site for the LHS in 1965-1966, however no analysis was conducted on the artifacts at that time or since. Fifty-four personal adornment artifacts were separated from the entire assemblage for this analysis. A catalog was created specifically for the artifacts and each object inventoried, measured, photographed, and archivally stored. The objects were thoroughly dated to determine to which family they belonged. Each artifact was analyzed based on design and style. When available, documentary evidence of purchasing patterns and individual preferences was used for comparison and reference. A comparison to the tin-glaze ceramic assemblage from the HCL excavation was conducted, as was a comparison to a high-status household's adornment collection from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. All of the analysis determined the Hancocks and Clarkes were not using adornment as a method of displaying their power and status in the community. Instead, they created several public identities with their adornment to maintain leadership among various groups. When preaching, they were very humble and modest, choosing muted styles when possible and rejecting excessive fashion. When among other social groups, they recognized the power of fashion and adornment. These men were maintaining a balance between piety and presentation to represent themselves and their communities.
Stephens, Sarah Ann, "Modest Ministers or Posh Preachers?: A Study of the Personal Adornment Collection of the Hancock-Clarke House, Lexington, Massachusetts" (2010). Graduate Masters Theses. 5.