Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Christa M. Beranek

Second Advisor

David B. Landon

Third Advisor

Stephen W. Silliman


This thesis studies how Caleb Parker, a blacksmith and craftsman who lived in the early- to mid-18th century, viewed and utilized refinement and genteel behaviors using the glass and ceramic artifacts recovered from a privy at his home at 23 Unity Street in Boston’s North End. Background research explores the concept of “partible refinement,” which speaks to the notion that the “middling sorts'' at this time, including craftspeople like Caleb Parker, had the agency to selectively use different components of refined gentility according to their personal consumer choice and tastes. This resulted in middling sorts incorporating both traditional and modern aesthetics within their consumption practices. Using this framework, the objects at the Parker house can serve as vectors by which particular social phenomena, like gentility, are expressed and performed in both public and private settings. Analysis includes form, function, minimum number of vessels (MNV), mean ceramic dating (MCD), and terminus post quem (TPQ) dating of the 1,149 glass and ceramic artifacts from the privy. This data is compared to that of other contemporary craftspeople in Boston using both archaeological collections and probate inventories. This analysis reveals that the Parkers were investing in some refined materials, present in both the archaeological assemblage and probate inventory. However, refined practices were something that the household was likely aware of but were not the only factors driving socializing and spending for this household. The Parker assemblage illustrates the role that craftsmen played within urban gentility and refinement, as well as the role that consumer choice, personal preference, and partible refinement played in the developing economy of pre-revolutionary 18th-century New England.