Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Nedra K. Lee

Second Advisor

Christa Beranek

Third Advisor

Daniela Balanzátegui


Despite the underrepresentation of the achievements of Black women in the historical record, scholars have recognized the centrality of their participation in social institutions such as the church. This thesis uses a documentary archaeology approach to highlight the tactics employed by Black and other women of color on Nantucket Island to foster community through the Black Baptist church housed in the African Meeting House during the nineteenth century. In the free but racially marginalized neighborhood of New Guinea, the African Meeting House was one of two churches that facilitated dignity and uplift for its members. The maintenance of the church was largely carried out by the women who made up most of the congregation. The analysis of archival and archaeological data from excavations of the Nantucket African Meeting House acknowledges the women of the meeting house as deliberate stewards of their community whose unsung role was vital in creating a space for themselves, their children, and their neighbors to resist the negative effects of racial prejudice.