Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

David Landon

Second Advisor

Heather Trigg

Third Advisor

Stephen Silliman


The Parker Borrego household, situated in northern New Mexico along the Rio Grande, produced and consumed animals and plants in a historical period that spanned control by three different colonial regimes: Spain, Mexico, and the United States. Occupied between 1830 and 1880, Parker Borrego residents would have sustained local knowledge of flora, maintained culinary aesthetics, and utilized crop and animal production to participate in local and regional economies. This thesis attempts to elucidate the ways that faunal and floral remains intersected with each other to structure daily life.

Faunal and floral remains collected form the site are considered as whole in order to provide a larger data set for analysis. This information is combined with 20th-century WPA documents, local cookbooks, and oral histories in order to provide a more detailed and nuanced picture of daily life in a rural area. As such, this thesis presents a model for analyzing 19th-century New Mexico which future researchers can apply and refine to specific sites.

Themes explored through the integration of this information include garden production, wild plants, culinary connections, and economic production. Because Spanish New Mexican households involved Native peoples as trading partners, laborers, and marriage partners, the kitchen became one site where matters of gender, culture, and identity were constantly negotiated. Use of crop and animal surpluses for trading purposes provided residents with opportunities to participate in economies of scale, providing opportunities to purchase both food and material goods which were not available to families on a daily basis. This availability or non-availability of plants and animals structured the ability of women to both maintain culinary traditions and supplant those traditions with new and novel ingredients or cooking methods.


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