Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

David B. Landon

Second Advisor

Stephen A. Mrozowski

Third Advisor

Heather B. Trigg


In 1774, nearly ten years before slavery was abolished in Massachusetts, an emancipated African American weaver named Seneca Boston purchased a tract of land in the Newtown section of Nantucket, Massachusetts. It is here that over the next thirty years Seneca Boston and his Wampanoag wife, Thankful Micah, would build a house, now known as the Boston-Higginbotham House, and raise six children. The Boston-Higginbotham House was home to the descendents of Seneca Boston and Thankful Micah for over one hundred years. Throughout the 19th century a vibrant and active African American community was developing in Newtown, and several generations of the Boston family played an integral role in this community's development. This thesis utilizes foodways as an entrée into the lives of these individuals through a zooarchaeological analysis of faunal remains deposited as trash from the meals they consumed. Focusing specifically on the animal components of their diets, this thesis considers the role that the foods they consumed may have played in constructing, reconstructing, and negotiating social and economic statuses and ethnicity and in challenging racist stereotypes and ideologies.