Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Judith Zeitlin

Second Advisor

Jonathan Chu

Third Advisor

Stephen Mrozowski


This thesis examines the collapse of the sheep industry in Falmouth, Massachusetts in the 1830s. The documentary evidence for the collapse is examined through both the lens of microhistory and that of the traditional model for the collapse, one set forth by the American Geographical Society. The traditional model suggests that the importation of cheap agricultural goods from western states like Ohio caused the collapse of commercial farming in New England. An examination of the local evidence, however, suggests that the real reasons for the collapse of the sheep industry in Falmouth are much more complex, leaving open the possibility of alternate explanations. The AGS model was not predictive in this case because of the fertility of the soil, the lack of connection between factories and farmers, and the timing of the collapse.