Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Christa M. Beranek

Second Advisor

David B. Landon

Third Advisor

Stephen Mrozowski


This thesis investigates the dining practices of the occupants of the Unity Court tenement located in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts. The investigation focuses on the ceramic tableware from the portion of the privy (Feature 5.2) associated with the second apartment at Unity Court. The privy deposits span the period from the early occupation of the property in the 1830s until the last quarter of the 19th-century. The oldest stratum (Strata 2) of the deposit is associated with the Locke family who occupied the single-family home from 1835 to the late 1840s. Lyman Locke was a professional scale and balance maker, he and his first wife owned the property, had two children together, and hosted boarders from time to time. The ceramic deposits show the family’s investment in multiple sets of ceramic dining and tea wares for use in different settings.

Strata 1 contains very few decorated ceramics with an overall preference for plain white ceramic tea and dining wares. This deposit is associated with the later use of the property in the second half of the 19th-century when it was home to a revolving door of American-born tradesmen, young families, and short-term boarders. These two deposits of Feature 5.2 emphasize the difference between respectable dining practices in the 19th-century. Both strata containing the plain white ceramics associated with informal family meal while strata 2 contains the expanded ceramic assemblage required for participation in formal social dining practices becoming popular in the 19th-century. The two strata of Feature 5.2 reflect a desire to set a respectable table while emphasizing the variability of scale and practice of 19th-century dining practices.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Thesis is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this thesis through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.

Additional Files

Sheehan-Appendix-A.pdf (203 kB)

Sheehan-Appendix-B.pdf (355 kB)