Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant: A Diachronic Investigation of Farmstead Labor Relations

Project: Research project

Project Details


This dissertation research examines how social and economic transitions unfolded in practice on a household scale. The context for this research is eighteenth- and nineteenth-century rural Northeast North America, where wage earners and labor markets gradually replaced the dominant division of labor between family members and slaves to accommodate emancipation and meet rising demands for agricultural commodities. What were the ways in which the transition in labor relations from a master-slave to an employer-wage earner manifested in everyday life? How did the transition in labor relations alter the space and objects shared by family members and laborers while living, working, interacting, and negotiating a daily existence? Research will focus on a house in East Setauket on Long Island, New York, and how the relations of production contributed to emerging identities. Five generations of the Thompson family occupied the house for nearly two-centuries beginning in ca 1700. Living and laboring alongside the Thompsons were black slaves, many of whom continued to live and work with the Thompsons after emancipation in 1827. Using archaeological and archival methods, this project will reconstruct how shifts in relations of production (re)shaped diverse people’s lives under changing social, economic, and political conditions.
Effective start/end date6/1/145/31/16


  • National Science Foundation (BCS-1355082)


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