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

Heather B. Trigg


This thesis is an examination of the 19th century adornment assemblage recovered from the archaeological excavation of two features (1859-1884) at the Industrial School for Girls in Dorchester located at 232 Centre Street in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The school was administered by middle class Bostonian women that wished to train working class girls from broken, abusive, or unfit homes in professionalized domestic work. This thesis is a rare examination of a site that is single-gendered, and predominantly single-classed and aged with a large collection of documented activity. This investigation was conducted in order to question the values that the administration of the institution placed on dress and how the social movements of the time, such as domesticity, womanhood, gentility, and the Second Great Awakening, influenced those values. The school was to act as a home with the matron as the “mother” that would impart values and give a regimented schedule with an environment filled with objects that were to exude purity and domesticity. An extensive investigation of the Secretary Records, Annual Reports, and Intake Records were consulted in conjunction with the adornment assemblage of 2,832 artifacts to answer this question. After this investigation it was found that the girls were dressed in similar styles to that of each other and domestic servants as a way to assert the girls’ place in society, economic thrift, and morality. These ideas were directly related to the values the administration placed on adornment objects due to the influence of social movements at the time.