Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Christa M. Beranek

Second Advisor

Stephen Mrozowski

Third Advisor

Ellen Berkland


This thesis examines the bottles recovered from an 1895 fill deposit at the Blake House site in Dorchester, MA, to determine what inconspicuous consumption reveals about the anonymous consumers of Dorchester in the late 19th century. The assemblage is composed of 1,892 pieces of bottle glass, representing food, alcohol, medicine, and household products, 73 with original paper labels. The analysis presented here demonstrates the consumers were from several households and included men, women and children from immigrant populations. Despite evidence for intensive recycling of bottles, indicating that these individuals were under economic stress, they had some amount of discretionary money to purchase non-essential goods, and their health was stable. The bottles indicate that these consumers were literate, influenced by advertisements and connections to downtown Boston. Understanding consumption patterns of these residents helps to gain insight into who they were, how they perceived themselves, and their experiences in their new urban environment.