Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Nedra K. Lee

Second Advisor

David B. Landon

Third Advisor

Stephen A. Mrozowski


During the nineteenth century, the northern slope of Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood was home to a free African American community. Central to the Beacon Hill neighborhood was the African Meeting House, which operated as a Baptist church, home, school, and meeting space for Black community members. Archaeological investigations have revealed the story of not just the African Meeting House, but the surrounding vicinity and larger community. The African Meeting House collection provides a case study to understand the ways racism, sexism, and classism impacted the quotidian lives of Black women in freedom. Using Black feminism as a theoretical framework, this research analyzes objects of personal adornment and clothing-related advertisements placed in the newspaper, The Liberator. Sartorial practices provide insight into the everyday, lived experiences of the Black women occupying Beacon Hill. The cultural materials analyzed in this research are used to highlight the lives of Black women as they performed economic labor, maintained their households, and participated in political life.