Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen A. Mrozowski

Second Advisor

Heather Trigg

Third Advisor

Christa Beranek


This thesis serves as an archaeological perspective of a Nipmuc family and their land at Hassanamisco, combining documentary and archival research with archaeological, environmental, and conservational methods. Hassanamisco was the third Indigenous community in New England to accept the teachings of John Eliot during the mid-17th century. In 1727, seven Nipmuc families sold portions of their land in what is today Grafton, MA to 40 English families. Deborah Newman was the granddaughter of one of the original Nipmuc proprietors from this sale of ancestral Hassanamisco land, and through her grandfather’s claim she held rights to land and monetary compensation from the Trustees put in place by the colony. By focusing on her family and land, this perspective illuminates how Nipmuc proprietors navigated the Guardianship-system on a daily basis, while also providing a case study for Nipmuc land loss and historical erasure within the broader framework of colonial encroachment on Native New England lands. The documentary evidence presented within places Deborah Newman and her family at this particular space at Hassanamisco, which is further corroborated by the ceramic analysis of its assemblage. The material culture analyses also reveal specific Nipmuc practices that are connected to a deeper past occurring at the site during this family’s occupation; practices that were not introduced by colonists, and remained a part of life afterward. Part of this thesis focuses on the remains of a structure at the Newman site. Evidence suggests it could be more similar to wetu or other vernacular Indigenous structure than a framed home with a stone foundation. The Newman site is part of land owned and passed down from mother to daughter, and their space in the overplus lot was the last piece of this lot owned by Nipmuc families before being consolidated by English proprietors.