Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen A. Mrozowski

Second Advisor

Christa M. Beranek

Third Advisor

David B. Landon


Through the artifacts from the Jackson Appleton Middlesex Urban Revitalization and Devolvement Project (hereafter JAM) located in Lowell, MA, this research explores social class in nineteenth-century boardinghouses. This thesis is a two-part study. First, through statistical analysis, research recovers interpretable data from urban archaeological contexts subject to disturbance. Pinpointing intra-site similarities between artifacts recovered from intact and disturbed contexts, data show that artifacts recovered from disturbed and intact contexts in urban environments are not as dissimilar as previously believed. In the second phase using both intact and disturbed JAM contexts, the analysis of four boardinghouse features highlights two distinct patterns of ceramic assemblages suggesting 1) that the JAM site includes artifacts associated with Lowell's early boardinghouse period (1820-1860) in contrast to other late nineteenth century collections from Lowell like the Boott Mills and 2) that material goods amongst upper class mangers versus working class operative were more similar at Lowell's outset. Synthesizing this data with previous archaeology in Lowell, this research shows that over the course of the nineteenth century changes in the practice of corporate paternalism can be seen in the ceramic record. Furthermore, the data suggest that participation in the planned industrial project was a binding element of community interactions, blurring the lines of social class for Lowell's inhabitants in the early years of the Lowell experiment.