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African-American Archaeology

Newsletter of the African-American Archaeology Network

Applied Archaeology and History Associates,
615 Fairglen Lane, Annapolis, MD 21401 :: ISBN 1060-0671

Number 28, Spring 2000

JohnP. McCarthy, Editor


Gender and Labor in Three Communities of Enslaved African Americans

Amy L. Young, The University of Southern Mississippi


Labor was central to the experiences of enslaved African-Americanmen and women (Berlin and Morgan 1993). Historically, when we think of slaves and labor, we tend to conjure up an image of gangs of field hands picking cotton, ignoring the important role of gender. This, of course, is an oversimplification because all across the South, enslaved men and women worked in a variety of contexts with deeply-rooted gender meanings. Here I discuss how enslaved men and women, created or reinforced their gendered roles, and working within them, labored to reduce risk for themselves, their immediate family, and for the entire slave community. Sometimes this labor was conducted for the master, and sometimes the labor was conducted during "free time" for themselves or family. To illustrate, I focus on three case studies.


Oxmoor, the first case study, is a large plantation near Louisville, Kentucky (Young 1997a). I examined hundreds of Oxmoor documents for information regarding aspects of daily life for the slaves there. Additionally, I conducted a limited archaeological survey of the slave quarter area. These data sets allow for an examination of the role of enslaved women who served as domestics in the bighouse.

Letters written by plantation mistress Mrs. Matilda Bullitt and her daughters, along with the archaeological data, provide a glimpse of the roles of female domestic slaves at Oxmoor. Five slave women are prominently mentioned in letters. They are "Aunt" Betsy the cook, Charity, Beck, and Louisa who was also called "Mammy" Teush.

The work described in the letters (laundry, cooking for many people, nursing the sick, cleaning the house) was difficult, and sometimes stressful. The labor, however, seemed to be associated with special privileges. For example, a letter dated 1841 illustrates not only the special place domestic slaves occupied in the Oxmoor big house, but also the extent of the privileges that Mammy Louisa (Teush) felt she deserved:

I have been busy lately making a wedding dress; Becky is to be married on the 27th day of this month. I suspect she will have a very fine wedding; Teush [Beck's mother] wanted me to write invitations to all the company; but I rather thought it would be a burlesque on fashion to be writing invitations to people that couldn't read, so we gave that up. Teush wants you and brother Josh to be specially invited to the "wedding." [quotes in original] (Bullitt family papers, The Filson Club).

Another letter stated that:

Beck was married in the holidays & as they thought looked very beautiful, & had quite a handsome entertainment, & a select company. Cynthia [a slave] & Martha [a Bullitt daughter] presided at the brides [sic] toilette, & arranged the table; every thing went off to their satisfaction with the exception of a disappointment in the brides cake . . . . (Bullitt family papers, The Filson Club).

There were other slave weddings at Oxmoor at the same time as Beck's. These did not seem to garner the same attention in the big house, reinforcing my interpretation that Mammy Louisa and perhaps her daughter Beck, earned special consideration. A few days later a letter stated that:

I suppose sister & the papers have told you all the news, about Becky and Harry Howard, Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jack, Caroline and Ben all being married. These are all the marriages among the blackies that I know of, and now for the white folks . . . .(Bullitt family papers, The Filson Club).

The descriptions about preparations for Beck's wedding, and the party afterward seem to illustrate that some negotiation of rights and obligations occurred between Mammy Louisa (Beck's mother) and the Bullitt family. Relations seemed to be rather carefully balanced. It is interesting, too, that sometimes the kinship terms Aunt or Mammy are used, and at other times they are omitted in letters. In the passage about all the slave weddings, it may also be significant that Aunt Betsy's wedding to Uncle Jack received so little attention from the Bullitts because Betsy was their cook. Caroline was also a cook, but she probably worked in the slave kitchen rather than the Bullitt kitchen, explaining the lack of kinship terms.

The tone of the Bullitt letters seems to indicate that Mammy Teush, Beck, and others used the traditional meanings associated with gendered kin/occupational terms they were assigned to remind the Bullitts of their reciprocal obligations. The power that slave women gained from these roles was used to protect themselves and their family and to insure the security or happiness of children. For example, in 1846, Beck communicated via a letter from Mrs. Bullitt to her son which stated, "Beck asked me to let you know she has a fine little waiting maid for you. She insists on it her children must all belong to you" (Bullitt family papers, The Filson Club). The following year, Beck again communicates: "Beck says after a while she can furnish you with an officeboy" (Bullitt family papers, The Filson Club). Knowing that the death of the master of Oxmoor might well result in splitting slave families, Beck attempts to control where here children might go. If successful, it means all her children will remain together, and in predictable circumstances. In addition, if for some other reason, her children all went to John Bullitt and she remained at Oxmoor, she knew she would not completely lose touch.

The traditional meanings associated with female domestic slaves, especially those associated with Mammy seemed to result in a limited but possibly significant source of power that enslaved women employed to protect and provide for themselves and family. It is obvious that Mammy Teush was trying to attain more for her daughter Beck's wedding. Beck is obviously reminding her owners of those traditional rights and obligations when she informs John Bullitt that he owns all her children. Enslaved women working in and around the big house used opportunities to ease their situations, only a small sample of which may have been recorded in family letters.

Locust Grove

Locust Grove, the second case study, is a small plantation near Louisville, Kentucky (Young 1995, 1997b). Few documents refer to the enslaved labor force. However, three field seasons of intensive archaeological testing at three slave house locations have provided a wealth of information about their daily lives including how women may have used generalized reciprocity or giving gifts inthe slave quarter community to reduce risk, build solidarity, and extend family connections.

Polly Weissner (1982) outlined this strategy as pooling risk by sharing (generalized reciprocity), often through giving gifts. Gift giving, especially non food items, is a way of symbolically extending and strengthening family ties or kinship bonds. This strategy is described for twentieth-century poor black urban communities. Studies of the antebellum period illustrate how "family" became virtually equated with "slave community" where families were created by linking nonkin together and creating feelings of solidarity (Webber 1978:158).

Evidence from the archaeological record at Locust Grove suggests that slaves lived in at least three households; the south, central and north houses. I suggest that these families sought to create ties with each other and with other slave families on neighboring farms and plantations. Kinship ties, unfortunately, are difficult to detect archaeologically. However, items like decorated ceramics and buttons obtained in matched sets might be used to track how artifacts were distributed across the plantation and may reflect gift giving. Matched items in ceramics and other artifacts not resulting from cross mending or hand-me-downs from the big house may indicate that these objects were shared or given among slave families on the plantations.

The result of the analysis of decorated ceramics was that 32 different ceramic decorative types were shared among the slave families at Locust Grove. The south and central households shared 20 different ceramic types, the south and north households shared seven, and the central and north households shared five types. When vessel forms were considered, it was not uncommon to find one pattern of decorated ceramic on a whiteware or pearlware teacup from one house, and a matching piece from a saucer in another.

Button analysis also reveals a match. A single blue transfer printed (calico) milk glass button was recovered from each of the three slave house sites.

These data suggest that generalized reciprocity in the form of giving gifts of nonfood items may have transpired between slave families at Locust Grove. Because of the nature of the gifts, domestic materials like ceramics and buttons, this activity was probably the domain of slave women. It is possibly significant that the matched objects are considered luxury items by archaeologists. Sharing of these items, however, suggests that such "luxury" objects may have had different meanings for African-American women (Singleton 1995:128). It might not have been important to have a matching tea set. Rather a saucer from a friend or family member symbolizing the reciprocal obligations may have been significant. For the enslaved African Americans at Locust Grove, the gifts of plates, teacups, or buttons, rather than being viewed as high status items, could have been seen as objects used and appreciated in friendly social contexts and symbolic of the reciprocal bonds between slave households and families. Gifts forged families from nonkin.

The extension of bonds of kinship outside the immediate family would have been particularly important where there was a high risk of being sold away. In the event that a parent (either mother or father) was sold away, and the child or children kept behind, strong bonds of kinship would help insure the future of dependent offspring robbed of biological parents. Further, when faced with being overworked, driven too hard, or beatings, a reaction from the entire slave community would have been difficult for the planter to withstand. Finally, emotional support from within the community during crises like birth, illness, and death would have been particularly important to a group of people often denied access to comforts of a formal church and professional medical care.


Saragossa, the final case study, is a large cotton plantation near Natchez Mississippi (Young 1998, 1999). Archaeological testing, especially at the Fourth House yielded data concerning housing, possessions, and diet, especially hunting (Jenkins 1999; Tuma 1998, 1999a, 1999b). A total of 1368 animal bones was recovered from the Fourth House.

The identifiable portion of the Saragossa assemblage consists of both domestic and wild species. Domestic animals include pig, cow, sheep/goat, and chicken. A number of wild species were also identified. Interestingly, even though white tailed deer is commonly the dominant wild species in southeastern archaeological assemblages, only 11 specimens were identified from the Fourth House. Box turtle, oyster, squirrel, opossum, rabbit, aquatic turtle, gar, bigmouth buffalo, raccoon, Canada or blue goose and other fish were identified from the Fourth House. Catfish is the dominant wild resource represented by 27 specimens and probably reflects easy access to the Mississippi River.

The bulk of the diet for the enslaved African Americans at Saragossa, as represented in the faunal assemblage, came from domestic species, most often, pig. Beef was not uncommon. Wild species, it seems, provided occasional fare for the slaves. Deer, squirrel, raccoon, rabbit, and various fish are still available in the immediate area today. Much of the smaller game species are attracted to cultivated areas or poultry yards, and could have been obtained through opportunistic or garden hunting. The importance of hunting, however, may not be immediately apparent based on the relative frequencies of wild animal bones in the archaeological assemblage.

In addition to the archaeological research, ethnographic fieldwork in the slave descendant community is also underway. Hunting and fishing were just some of the many activities investigated during the course of the ethnographic work. In the case of hunting, this work was done by a male ethnographer who "apprenticed" himself to the older male hunters in the community. The hunters were quite accustomed to teaching young men how to hunt, and the student was well received.

Hunting in the descendant community, as in the South generally, is traditionally a male dominated activity with a long history (Marks 1991). While some of the techniques, especially the technology, of hunting have changed considerably since the antebellum era, it was believed that hunting today, as a tradition passed from father to son, would reflect some of the practices of the past. In other words, the harvest of wild resources in this modern community may inform the research of similar activities of the antebellum slave community.

The modern descendant community consists of just over 60 people living near the old plantation (Tuma 1999b). Most residents are related to four sisters who own the real estate. Men marry into the neighborhood. The small community suffers constantly from economic hardships. Many adult women work outside the home in fast food restaurants in Natchez. One constant topic of conversations in the community revolves around money (or the lack of it). Another constant topic of conversation, especially among men, is hunting.

Hunting is an exclusively male activity (women are considered "bad luck"), but women and children fish. Most hunters are adults, but youngsters learn to hunt by participation. As for many Southerners, hunting seems to be a rite of passage into manhood in the descendant community. Unemployment in the community is very high, many adult males (over 20 years of age) are unemployed for part of the year and underemployed for much of the rest of the year. As welfare is greatly scorned, hunting is viewed as a way that unemployed/underemployed men can contribute economically to the household and the community (Tuma 1999b).

Hunting is typically a group activity. Communal deer drives are held in which men with shotguns and rifles line up in the woods, spaced several hundred meters apart, and other hunters with dogs drive the deer into an ambush. In this case, dogs are considered as absolutely necessary for a successful hunt (Tuma 1999b). Communal deer drives necessitate cooperation of the men in the community.

The game and fish, once acquired, are distributed thought the descendant community in a number of ways. Typically, the first activity after successful hunting or fishing is a communal feast. Therefore, when someone (or in the case of communal drives) a group is successful, the whole community benefits. Surplus from the hunt or fishing trip is distributed among various freezers in the community (Tuma 1999b).

As for many southerners, hunting is considered to be very important from a number of perspectives. First, hunting feeds the community, so must be considered a significant subsistence, and therefore economic, activity. Considering the high rate of underemployment, this activity is very important. Hunting in the antebellum community would have had similar functions.

The second function of hunting is to create and maintain gender identity. As lines demarcating the sexes are blurred in the modern workplace, hunting seems to be an important way of reaffirming masculine identities in this neighborhood. Designations like "field hand" which ignored gender differences also blurred lines between men and women in slavery. Today, "To engage in hunting is to emulate, to defend, and to advocate what is a tried, proven, and proper way of becoming and being a man." Hunting on Saragossa Road is definitely a source of male pride.

The third function of hunting in the Saragossa community is to integrate strangers into the community. For Southerners in general, regardless of race, hunting "allows residents the opportunity to assess the stranger's behavior and assign him a known category of persons." Because the men have married into the Saragossa community in recent years, they have learned to live together and cooperate (as kin) through group hunting. In a community where pooling scarce resources and cooperation is essential for the survival of all, effectively assessing and integrating newcomers is a very important activity. It gives newcomers a chance to prove themselves by providing an important economic commodity to the group. As the enslaved population at Saragossa was constantly shifting, hunting would have integrated newly purchased strangers into the community.


Archaeological, historical, and ethnographic studies have provided important data that illustrate how enslaved African Americans across the South labored in a variety of contexts, often utilizing their assigned or created gender roles to promote solidarity within the slave quarter community and to protect and provide for their families. Such behaviors helped to offset the dangers inherent in the institution of slavery and minimize risk. Both men and women operated within their separate gender spheres to effect better lives for themselves and their families.

References Cited

Berlin, Ira and Philip Morgan
1991    Introduction. In Cultivation and Culture: Labor and the Shaping of Slave life in the Americas. University Press ofVirginia, Charlottesville.

Jenkins, Cliff
1999    Slave Subsistence at Saragossa Plantation. Paper presentedat the 1999 Southeastern Archaeological Conference, November 10-13,1999, Pensacola, Florida.

Marks, Stuart A.
1991    Southern Hunting in Black and White: Nature, History, and Ritual in a Carolina Community. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Singleton, Theresa A.
1995    Archaeology of Slavery in North America. Annual Review of Anthropology 24:119-140.

Tuma, Michael
1998    Slave Subsistence at Saragossa: Preliminary Report on Faunal Data. Mississippi Archaeology 33(2): 125-138.

1999    Ethnoarchaeology of the Subsistence Behaviors Among A Rural African-American Community in Southwestern Mississippi. Paper presented at the 1999 Southeastern Archaeological Conference, November 10-13, 1999, Pensacola, Florida.

1999b    Foodways and Vertebrate Animal Use in a Rural Black Neighborhood: Ethnoarchaeological Evidence and Implications for Interpretation of Zooarchaeological Antebellum Samples. Report on file, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, The University of Southern Mississippi.

Webber, Thomas L.
1978    Deep Life in the Rivers: Education in the Slave Quarter Community, 1831-1865. W. W. Norton, New York.

Weissner, Polly
1982    Risk, Reciprocity, and Social Influences on !Kung San Economics. In Politics and History in Band Societies, edited by Eleanor Leacock and Richard Lee, pp. 61-84. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Young, Amy L.
1995    Risk and Material Conditions of the African-American Slavesat Locust Grove, An Archaeological Perspective. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

1997a    Historical and Archaeological Investigations of Slaves and Slavery at Oxmoor Plantation. Report submitted to the Kentucky Heritage Council, Frankfort, KY.

1997b    Risk Management Strategies Among African-American Slaves at Locust Grove Plantation. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 1:5-37.

1998    Preliminary Archaeological and Historical Investigations at Saragossa Plantation, Natchez, Mississippi. Mississippi Archaeology 33(1): 1-18.

1999    Archaeological Investigations of Slave Housing at Saragossa Plantation, Natchez, Mississippi. Southeastern Archaeology 18(1): 57-68.

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Twenty Years After: Re-examining Archaeological Collections for Evidence of New York City's Colonial African Past

Diana diZerega Wall, City College of the City University of New York


Over the last quarter century, archaeologists working in the southern United States have made enormous strides in the study of the enslaved people of African descent who lived there. Working at both plantation and urban sites, numerous assemblages that can be linked with Africans have been discovered. Until recently, however, there have been relatively few attempts on the part of archaeologists studying sites in the north to explore the experience of enslaved Africans there (for exceptions, see Fitts 1996 and Perry personal communication 1999). I believe that this is truefor two reasons. First, European Americans living in the north have tended to deny the importance of slavery the history of the region. Secondly, the nature of slavery in the north makes it much more difficult to examine than in the south (a point which I develop more fully below). Recently, this situation has begun to change in New York City and in this paper, I describe some of the finds made there.

The discovery of the African Burial Ground in New York City in 1991, and the subsequent successful effort on the part of members of the city's modern African-American community to gain control of the archaeological project brought New York's long tradition of enslavement home to many New Yorkers in a very powerful way. The first arrival of enslaved Africans in New Amsterdam in 1626 followed the European settlement by only one year, and Africans continued to make up most of the city's enslaved labor force for over two centuries, more than half of the city's history (Wilson 1994). Throughout the eighteenth century, enslaved Africans madeup between 14 and 21 percent of the city's population (Rosenwaike 1972:8). The Howard University team's study of the people who were interred in the African Burial Ground and their cultural context in the eighteenth-century city is revealing enormously important information about life and death in New York's enslaved community (e.g., Blakey 1997; Howard 1998; Perry 1997, 1998).

Notwithstanding this ground breaking project, to date there has been little success at discovering archaeological deposits associated with the homes of people of African descent in the city, primarily due to the nature of the settlement system of enslavement in New York.

Slavery in New York was very different from that in those parts of the world where the enslaved worked in a plantation economy and lived in their own spatially separate quarters. The enslaved in New York usually lived under the same roofs as their owners, forming part of the urban colonial household. Some lived in cellars, others in garrets, and others still in the so-called "Negro kitchens" that were located in their owners back yards (Foote 1991:91; White 1991:9). While a large percentage of the city's households included enslaved members, they lived in 40 percent of the households on Manhattan Island in 1703 (Foote 1991:91), most of these households included only one or two slaves. Accordingly, the enslaved were widely dispersed among white households throughout the city.

This settlement system has ramifications for archaeologists trying to study the African presence in colonial homes in New York. Until recently, it had been assumed it would be impossible to study the African presence in colonial homes for two reasons. First, some thought that the practice of housing the enslaved under the watchful eyes of the slave holders denied the enslaved the privacy afforded them in the southern quarters, a privacy which allowed them "to practice African traditions openly and build a culture of resistance" (Fitts 1996:57-58). Second, others thought that the archaeological remains of the sustaining cultural life that the enslaved were able to create in the interstices of the dominant culture would be invisible archaeologically in these combined households (e.g., Wall 1995).

Recent work, however, suggests that it is time to re-think the assumption that it is not possible to see the African presence in these multiracial homes. (Here I use the word "racial" in the cultural and not the biological sense.) This work, which has focused on the enslaved in the south, points to the importance of developing different lines of evidence to link archaeological assemblages to people of particular ethnic or racial groups. Three lines of evidence are of particular importance.

One consists of archaeological context, a concept originally stressed by Kenneth Brown and Doreen Cooper (1990; see also Cochran 1999:6-7). Two different kinds of contexts have been shown relevant for identifying artifacts associated with African life in the south. In one, artifacts are found in spaces over which Africans had some, albeit limited, control. These include the cabins in the quarters where they lived on the plantations and the kitchens and laundries of the big houses where they worked in southern cities like Annapolis and Williamsburg (e.g., Leone and Fry 1999; Samford 1996:109). There, both indoors and out, archaeologists have found pits that were used for storing a variety of objects, ranging from food remains to personal valuables and including artifacts used in rituals associated with traditional African-American spiritual life (e.g., Cooper and Brown 1990; Kelso 1984; Leone and Fry 1999; McKee 1992; Mouer 1991). Other caches were put inthe ground as part of rituals (Leone and Fry 1999). They were placed in key locations, such as the northeast corners of rooms and under hearths and door sills, by religious specialists "to direct spirits, protect, diagnose, and foretell" (Leone and Fry 1999:380).

A second archaeological context consists of rivers and other bodies of water that served as the final resting place for objects used in other rituals. Leland Ferguson (1992) has made a convincing case linking bowls inscribed with "X"s that have been found in stream and river beds with cosmograms designed by the Bakongo in today's Kongo and Angola.

A second line of evidence consists of the artifacts themselves. Some objects have been identified as having been important in the spiritual lives of Africans living in North America (e.g., Patten 1992; Samford 1996; Leone and Fry 1999). These artifacts include discs which are sometimes perforated (including buttons, coins, and ceramic sherds roughly shaped into circles which are often referred to as gaming pieces in the literature), quartz crystals and pieces of glass, cowrie shells, glass beads, Native American stone tools, black pebbles, marbles (including some incised with "X"s), blue-painted white ceramic sherds, and objects made out of metal, including pins, locks, keys, nails, etc. (compiled from Klingelhofer 1987; Leone and Fry 1999; Patten 1992; Russell 1997). However, it is not to determine whether any particular object held spiritual significance for African Americans. The objects do not speak for themselves; they are all multivalent and might have one set of meanings in one context for one group of people and another set of meanings in a different context and/or for another group of people (Brown and Cooper 1991; Cochran 1999; Perry 1997:14). For example, although buttons can have ritual significance in one context for some people, they are also used by many people in other contexts for fastening clothing. Further, some of these artifacts also had spiritual meaning for the members of other groups, such as the quartz crystals, glass beads, and objects made of copper, which had spiritual connotations for some Native American groups (e.g., Cantwell and Wall in press; Native Americans continued to form part of the enslaved population in New York until the 1740s [Davis in Jackson 1995:1076]). Therefore it is not possible to use particular kinds of artifact as fossiles directeurs to make a link with people of African descent; instead the presence of particular kinds of artifacts has to be combined with other kinds of evidence, particularly the evidence of context (Brown and Cooper 1990; Cochran 1999; Wilkie 1997:102).

A third line of evidence consists of the documentary record, which can be used to link enslaved Africans with the site where the artifacts were found. Archival records sometimes show whether or not enslaved Africans and Native Americans lived on a particular site during the period when artifacts were deposited in the ground.

What is obvious in looking at these different kinds of evidence is that each alone is insufficient to link artifact assemblages with people of African descent in interracial homes. Although we know that storing objects in cache pits has a long tradition in some African cultures and that enslaved Africans are reported in contemporary accounts to have done this in New York (e.g., Foote 1991:283), we also know that anyone can dig a hole under a kitchen floor and use it as a hiding place and that in fact the members of many groups have been documented as having done so (Samford 1996:100; see Kelso 1984:123, Yentsch 1991, Sanford 1991, Chambers 1992). We have to assume that a button found as yard scatter was probably lost from clothing. And knowing that Africans lived in an interracial home in its own right does not provide a link between them (or the Europeans they lived with) and any of the assemblages found associated with that home. It is only when we can combine several of these lines of evidence that we can infer that particular artifacts were probably associated with particular groups of people.

Bearing this line of reasoning in mind, I went back through some of the collections that have been excavated in New York over the last 20 years to see if I could identify assemblages that might have been associated with enslaved people of African descent. The collections included those from: the Stadt Huys Block site, excavated under the direction of Nan Rothschild and myself in 1979-80 (Rothschild et al. 1987); the 7 Hanover Square site, excavated under the direction of Rothschild, Arnold Pickman, and myself in 1981 (Rothschild and Pickman 1990); the Broad Financial Centersite, excavated under the direction of Joel Grossman in 1984 (Grossman 1985); and the Assay site, excavated under the direction of Roselle Henn and myself in 1984 (Louis Berger and Associates 1991).

Underground Caches

To date, at least six pits that can be interpreted as underground caches have been uncovered at these New York sites (see Table 1). Most of these pits, which date to the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, were lined with barrels, baskets, or bricks. Some of these features may in fact have been originally made for other purposes: it has been suggested, for example, that one (Comp. 38) had served as a drain (Grossman 1985; Dallal 1995) and that several others (Comps. 13, 14, 62, and 63) may have functioned as privy pits (Cantwell and Wall in press). In all but two cases, the spatial relationship between these features and the buildings associated with them cannot be confirmed since the building foundations had been destroyed; however, in each case the features are within approximately 25 to 30 feet of the front property line, which was coterminous with the fronts of the houses during this period. These locations probably place many of them within the boundaries of the homes that were on the properties in the colonial city; in other words, many of them could have been located under the floors of kitchens and the other ground floor domestic spaces that were often the domains of the enslaved. In the two cases where the features can be positioned in relation to contemporary building foundations, at the King's House tavern at the Stadt Huys Block and a house at 7 Hanover Square, the pits were located toward the rear of the houses, in areas where kitchens were located.

Artifacts from the Caches

The artifacts found in these features fall into two different groups. Some were objects that anyone, regardless of their cultural affiliation, might have hidden there: they were inherently valuable in colonial New York. In one case, the tavern at the Stadt Huys Block, an underground barrel was found which contained approximately 20 bottles of liquor along with clay tobacco pipes (Rothschild et al. 1987:132, 134). This cache was apparently abandoned when the tavern burned in 1705. However, the meanings of some of the artifacts from other features are more equivocal; seen through modern western eyes, some might be interpreted as trash (see Dallas 1995). However, in light of the artifacts uncovered in the caches in the quarters of the southern plantations and discoveries in Annapolis and Williamsburg, it seems probable that many of the New York pits contained objects hidden there by enslaved Africans. The pits contain a large number of metal artifacts, relatively unusual finds in New York during the colonial period, when metal objects were recycled rather than discarded, as well as the ceramic discs, pieces of glass, buttons, pins, etc., often found in cache pits in the south (see Table 1).

Documentary History

Unfortunately, in regard to documentary history, there are enormous gaps in the tax, conveyance, and census records used to reconstruct the micro histories of properties in New York for the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These gaps areso great that it can be impossible to identify the names of householders for a particular period. In those cases where it is possible to identify the names of householders, it can be impossible to identify whether or not enslaved people were also living in the house during the target period when the artifacts were placed in the ground. In some cases, however, we do know who the householders were at the critical period, and we have begun research designed to link the presence of enslaved Africans to the properties where these pits were found. The results so far are promising. One of the properties, Lot 14 at the Broad Financial Center site, was owned by members of the Kierstede family, a family which was known to hold slaves. When Sara Roelofs Kierstede died in 1693, for example, she left six enslaved people, including five Africans and one Indian, to her children. One, a "Negro boy, Hans," was left to her daughter Blandina (Pelletreau 1893:225); Blandina is thought to have lived on the Kierstede property during the period when objects were placed in one of these pits. Other pits, on Lot 8 at the Broad Financial Center site, were on property owned by the van Tienhoven family. Most of the members of this family who were listed in the 1703 census also owned slaves. And a court record tells a tragic story linking the King's House Tavern at the Stadt Huys Block with at least one enslaved person: "In 1697, when Elias Boudinot entered the kitchen of the tavern looking for an enslaved African who had run away, he saw the said Negro Dick with a Negro woman he calls his wife." A scuffle ensued, during which Dick wounded three men with a knife with which he had been eating bread and butter; one of the men died (Goodfriend 1992:118). Unfortunately, we do not know the outcome of this trial. We need to do much more archival research on this and on the history of the tavern and the other properties. Hopefully, this research will provide more information about the Africans living in these homes.

The Spoon from the East River

Another find that might be attributed to people of African descent who lived in New York. In this case, a late eighteenth-century spoon was discovered under the landfill at the bottom of the East River at the Assay site. As archaeologists worked to uncover the large wooden wharf complex at this site, they found a number of objects embedded in the river bottom silts. The wharf had been built c. 1790. Shortly after 1800, additional landfill was added, moving the shoreline further to the east and sealing the riverbottom deposits in this area. One of the artifacts found in the silt was a spoon that had several "X"s scratched on the inside of its bowl. In 1984, when the find was made, the archaeologists did not even notice the "X"s, and if they had, they might have assumed that they had been scratched there accidentally. However, Ferguson's (1992) work suggests another interpretation (see also Klingelhofer 1987).

Ferguson was the first archaeologist to notice the presence of incised "X"s on the bases of some handbuilt colonoware bowls from the Carolina Lowcountry. Similar motifs have also been found on the bowls of spoons found on plantations in Virginia. Ferguson has interpreted these marks as cosmograms derived from the Bakongo of West Africa, in today's Angola and Kongo, formerly Zaire. The Bakongo use this cosmogram to depict the relationship between the earth and the water and the living and the dead: the horizontal line represents the water that serves as the boundary between the living and their ancestors, while the vertical line represents the path of power across the boundary, from below (the land of the ancestors) to above (the land of the living). The bowls are thought to have served as containers for minkisi or sacred medicines which "control the cosmos connecting the living with the powers of the dead." (Ferguson 1992:114). It is possible that the spoons played a similar role.

Table 1. The sites, features, dates of deposit, and the names of associated European-American families where the artifacts were found.






Broad Street 8Comp. 13barrel-lined pitc. 1660Van Tienhoven
Broad Street 8Comp. 38basket-lined pitpost 1670Van Tienhoven
Broad Street 8Comp. 14barrel-lined pit1690sVan Tienhoven
Broad Street14Comp. 62barrel-lined pit1680sKierstede/Bayard
Broad Street14Comp. 63brick-lined pitc. 1715Kierstede
Stadt Huys 9T.C. AQbarrel-lined pitc. 1705King's House Tavern
7 Hanover Square14T.C. 0, 0'unlined pit1760-80 ?

Table 2. Those artifacts from the features which are similar to those associated with Africans at sites in the south.

 Comp. 13 3 large pcs. of Delft tile, 50 glass beads, 1 quartz flake, jawbone, i marble, 1 pc. coral, 1 pc. mica
 Comp. 14  2 large pcs. of a pair of Chinese export porcelain saucers, i louse comb, 2 pcs. mica, 3 pcs. chert, i glass bead, 4 marbles, 1 knife (?) with an antler handle, 1 pc. lead shot, i wine bottle, 1 pin, 1 lead fishing sinker
 Comp. 38  1/2 Delft plate, iron nails, 2 pcs. lead window caning, 1 pc. lead shot, 1 thimble, i needle fragment, 17 marbles, quartzite flakes, 3 glass beads, 3 shell beads (wampum)
 Comp. 62 2 red earthenware gaming pieces, 1 wineglass stem, 1 chert, 1 jasper, 1 glass bead, 1 delft plate, 1 latten spoon bowl, 1 large pewter plate fragment, 1 turtle carapace, 1 pc. keratin, 15 pins and pin fragments, 3 mica, 1 brass wall candle holder, 1 brass candle snuffer, 1 drawer pull, 1 pin, 28 nails and nail fragments
 Comp. 63 1 whistle made from a pipestem, 1 ear of a Delft porringer, 1 louse comb, ~ marbles, 35 pcs. chitin, 8 wine glass stems; 1 wine bottle, 2 pins, 1 thimble, 2 buttons, 1 green glazed earthenware bowl,
 T.C. AQ c. 20 wine bottles, several tobacco pipes
 T.C. 0,0' 2 creamware bowls, 1 glass bottle stopper, copper disc or coin?, 2 chert flakes, layer of white sand
 Note: With one exception, the lists are from the inventories included with the site reports and/or site records; the artifacts themselves have yet to be examined. The inventory sheets are not available for this deposit in T.C. AQ at the Stadt Huys Block.

Most of the marked colonoware bowls were found in the waters of rivers and streams, confirming their roles in rituals involving the waters that separate the living from the dead. To my knowledge, no colonoware bowls have been found in New York or elsewhere in the north. But the discovery of the spoon with its inscribed "X"s in what had been the waters of the East River suggests the possibility that this ritual may have been practiced there.


I want to close with several points. First of all, this paper presents an approach for linking particular assemblages of artifacts with enslaved people of African descent who were living in biracial homes, alongside the Europeans who enslaved them. This approach has the potential for complementing the study of the dead at the African Burial Ground with glimpses of the home lives of the enslaved in New York City. However, the approach has further ramifications for studying the lives of the enslaved that lived throughout the north, where the settlement system was characterized by biracial homes in both rural and urban areas. Hopefully, archaeologists who are working in the north and who are interested in studying the lives of the enslaved there will no longer simply assume either that enslaved Africans in the north constructed a culture that was extremely different from that in the south or that the traces of the culture that they did create would be invisible. Instead, I hope that they will begin to look for underground storage pits dug beneath domestic spaces and caches placed under floors, in the northeast corners of rooms and under hearths and door sills. I think they will be surprised at what they find. In fact, archaeologists working with architectural historians recently discovered what could be such a cache under the floor of a second story loft at a farmhouse in Brooklyn (Ricciardi et al. 2000).

Secondly, this argument also has another implication that I mentioned but did not develop in the body of this paper. If we have to make a case for linking particular assemblages with people of African descent who were living and/or working at these sites, we also have to make a case for linking other assemblages with people of European or Native American descent who shared thesesites with them, instead, as often seems to be the case, of simply assuming that unless otherwise indicated, all artifacts were associated with the site's European inhabitants.

Finally, as has been pointed out by several archaeologists (e.g., Singleton and Bograd 1995; Samford 1996; and Russell 1997), now that we are in a position to link assemblages with people of African descent in both the north and in the south, we need to develop relevant research questions and bridging arguments that use that data to understand the experiences of Africans in America.

Note and Acknowledgements

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the symposium "New York City Urban Archaeology: Twenty Years Later," organized by Meta Janowitz, Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec, 2000. I thank Arnold Pickman, Anne-Marie Cantwell, Nan Rothschild, and Sherrill Wilson for reading and commenting on earlier drafts of this paper. Any errors of fact or interpretation are unfortunately my own.

References Cited

Berger, Louis, and Associates
1991    Archaeological and Historical Investigations at the Assay Site, Block 35, New York, New York. Report on file with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Blakey, Michael L.
1997    The African Burial Ground: The Biology of Enslaved Africansin Colonial New York. Paper presented at the conference Race and Ethnicity in American Material Life, Winterthur, DE.

Brown, Kenneth L., and Doreen C. Cooper
1990    Structural Continuity in an African-American Slave and Tenant Community. Historical Archaeology 24(4):7-19.

Cantwell, Anne-Marie, and Diana diZerega Wall
in press    The Archaeology of New York City: An 11,000 Year Chronicle.Yale University Press, New Haven.

Chambers, Douglas B.
1992    Afro-Virginian Root Cellars and African Roots? A Comment on the Need for a Moderate Afrocentric Approach. African-AmericanArchaeology 6:7-10.

Cochran, Matthew D.
1999    Hoodoo and Conjuration: Contextualizing 19th Century African-American Folk Practices. Paper presented at the Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology Conference, St. Mary's City, Maryland.

Dallal, Diane
1995    Van Tienhoven's Basket: Treasure or Trash? In One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure, edited by Alexandra van Dongan, et al., pp. 215-223. Museum Boymans-van Beuningen Rotterdam and Jamestown Settlement Museum, Williamsburg, VA.

Ferguson, Leland
1992    Uncommon Ground: Archaeology and Early African America, 1650-1800.Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Fitts, Robert K.
1996    The Landscapes of Northern Bondage. Historical Archaeology 30(2):54-73.

Foote, Thelma Wills
1991    Black Life in Colonial Manhattan, 1664-1786. Ph.D. dissertation, History of American Civilization, Harvard University, Cambridge.

Goodfriend, Joyce P.
1992    Before the Melting Pot: Society and Culture in Colonial New York City, 1664-1730. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Grossman, Joel W.
1985    The Excavation of Augustine Heerman's Warehouse and Associated 17th Century Dutch West India Company Deposits: The Broad Financial Center Mitigation Final Report. Report on file with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Howard University, African Burial Ground Project
1998    New York African Burial Ground: Skeletal Biology Report, 1st Draft. Prepared by Howard University for the United States General Services Administration. On file at the Office of Public Education and Information, African Burial Ground Project, New York, New York.

Jackson, Kenneth T., ed.
1995    The Encyclopedia of New York City. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Kelso, William
1984    Kingsmill Plantations, 1619-1800: An Archaeology of Country Life in Colonial Virginia. Academic Press, Orlando.

1986    Mulberry Row: Slave Life at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.Archaeology 39(5):28-35.

Klingelhofer, Eric
1987    Aspects of Early Afro-American Culture: Artifacts from Slave Quarters at Garrison Plantation. Historical Archaeology 21(2):112-119.

Leone, Mark P., and Gladys-Marie Fry
1999    Conjuring in the Big House Kitchen: An Interpretation ofAfrican-American Belief Systems Based on the Uses of Archaeology and Folklore Sources. Journal of American Folklore 112(445):372-403.

McKee, Larry
1992    The Ideals and Realities Behind the Design and Use of 19th Century Slave Cabins. In The Art and Mystery of Historical Archaeology, edited by Anne Elizabeth Yentsch and Mary C. Beaudry, pp. 195-214. CRC Press, Boca Raton.

Mouer, Daniel
1991    "Root Cellars" Revisited. African-American Archaeology 5:5-6.

Patten, Drake
1992    Mankala and Minkisi: Possible Evidence of African-American Folk Beliefs and Practices. African-American Archaeology 6:5-7.

Pelletreau, W. S., ed.
1894    Abstracts of Wills on File in the Surrogate's Office, City of New York. Collections of the New York Historical Society for the Year 1893.

Perry, Warren R.
1997    Analysis of the African Burial Ground Archaeological Materials. Update: Newsletter of the African Burial Ground and Five Points Archaeological Projects 2(2):1, 3-5, 14.

1998    Archaeological Update from the Foley Square Laboratory. Update: Newsletter of the African Burial Ground and Five Points Archaeological Projects 2(6):3-5.

Ricciardi, Christopher, Alyssa Loorya, and Maura Smale
2000    Excavating Brooklyn, New York's Rural Past: The Hendrick I. Lott Farmstead Project. Paper presented at the Society for Historical Archaeology meeting, Quebec, Canada.

Rosenwaike, Ira.
1972    Population History of New York City. University Press, Syracuse, New York.

Rothschild, Nan A., and Arnold Pickman
1990    The Archaeological Excavations on the Seven Hanover Square Block. Report on file with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Rothschild, Nan A., Diana diZ. Wall, and Eugene Boesch
1987    The Archaeological Investigation of the Stadt Huys Block: A Final Report. Report on file at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Russell, Aaron E.
1997    Material Culture and African-American Spirituality at the Hermitage. HistoricalArchaeology 31(2):63-80.

Samford, Patricia
1996    The Archaeology of African-American Slavery and Material Culture. William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 53(1):87-114.

Sanford, Douglas
1991    A Response to Anne Yentsch's Research Note on Below Ground "Storage Cellars" Among the Ibo. African-American Archaeology 5:4-5.

Singleton, Theresa A., and Mark D. Bograd
1995    The Archaeology of the African Diaspora in the Americas. Guides to the Archaeological Literature of the Immigrant Experience in America, 2, Society for Historical Archaeology.

Wall, Diana diZerega
1995    Remarks. Prepared for the symposium "African Burial Ground Project: Prospectus and Preliminary Results of Research at Howard University, American Anthropological Association, Washington, DC.

White, Shane
1991    Somewhat More Independent. University of Georgia Press, Athens.

Wilkie, Laurie A.
1997    Secret and Sacred: Contextualizing the Artifacts of African-American Magic and Religion. Historical Archaeology 31(4):81-106.

Wilson, Sherrill D.
1994    New York City's African Slaveowners: A Social and Material Culture History. Garland, New York.

Yentsch, Anne
1991    A Note on a 19th Century Description of Below Ground "Storage Cellars" Among the Ibo. African-American Archaeology 4:3.

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Book Reviews and Notes

Books Available for Review

Berlin (1998) Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America.
Buckley (1998) The British Army in the West Indies.
Johnson (1996) The Bahamas from Slavery to Servitude, 1783-1933.
Martin (1999) Britain's Slave Trade.
Matthews (1998) Honoring the Ancestors.
Morgan (1998) Slave Counterpoint: Black Culturein the l8th-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry.
PaquetteandEngerman (eds.) (1996) The Lesser Antilles in the Age of European Expansion.
Pwiti & Soper (eds.) (1996) Aspects of African Archaeology
Singleton (ed.) (1999) "I, Too Am America": Archaeological Studies of African-American Life.
Raboteau (1980) Slave Religion.
Trotter & Smith (eds.) (1997) African-Americans in Pennsylvania: Shifting Historical Perspectives.
Walsh (1997) From Calabar to Cater's Grove: The History of a Virginia Slave Community.

Please contact one of the book review editors if interested in reviewing any of these volumes:

Fred McGhee
1240 Barton Hills Dr. #207
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 912-0906 (home)
(512) 475-7904 (work)

Mark Warner
Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Justice Studies
University of Idaho
P.O. Box 441110
Moscow, Idaho 838441110
(208) 885-5954 (work)

Landscape Transformations and the Archaeology of Impact: Social Disruption and State Formation in Southern Africa, Warren R. Perry, 1999. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York. 195 pp., tables, tables, figures, bibliography, index.

Terrence W. Epperson

Perry provides an excellent example of how historical archaeology can be used to test, and ultimately refute, a widely accepted historiographic model, in this case one that, for over a century, has served the interests of European colonists and their allies in southern Africa. Landscape Transformations and the Archaeology of Impact is based upon extensive fieldwork in Swaziland (a nominally independent country almost totally surrounded by South Africa) and synthesis of previous archaeological, documentary, and oral historical work conducted in neighboring South Africa and Mozambique. Appreciation of this work will be enhanced by reading it in conjunction with the author's personal account of the sociopolitical context within which he conducted his Swaziland fieldwork in 1984, 1985, and 1987 (Perry 1998).

The object of Perry's analysis is what he calls the "Settler Model" of the Mfecane/Difaqane, the early decades of the nineteenth century that were characterized by the reign of Shaka Zulu (c. 1790-1828), the rise of the Zulu state, and a period of cataclysmic internecine warfare and widespread famine and population displacement. Mfecane is thought to be a Xhosa term meaning "the crushing" and Difaqane is a Sotho-Tswana cognate meaning "the scattering." According to Perry, the Settler Model is predicated upon three fundamental assumptions: First, the near genocidal warfare, cattle raiding, starvation, and forced migrations that characterized the early nineteenth century were internally generated. Second, European involvement in, and responsibility for, these conflicts was minimal. Finally, the black-on-black violence resulted in the depopulation of large areas and the concomitant formation of refugee communities forced to seek asylum with nearby European settlers. Settler Model theorists differ regarding the fundamental causes of these events (e.g. demographic pressure, environmental degradation, ivory trade), but concur in their minimization of European involvement and attribution of responsibility primarily to the rise of the Zulu state. The image of benevolent white settlers providing refuge to terrorized, displaced black refugees and subsequently occupying an "empty" landscape had, and continues to have, obvious ideological utility for European colonists and allied European-sanctioned African elites. In fact, this Settler Model served as a cornerstone of the historical rationale for apartheid in South Africa.

Perry begins by examining three fundamental, often unstated, underlying assumptions of the Settler Model: First, "African society was composed of a series of relatively discrete ethnic groups that had their origin in the past and persisted into relatively recent times." Second, "these ethnic groups were poorly articulated one to the other, little systematic interaction between the groups can be used to understand cultural transformation." Finally, "These social relations were disrupted in the early nineteenth century by the Mfecane/Difaqane when local conditions led the pre-Zulu ethnic group to become a predatory state." (pp. 21-22). In his most important and innovative move, Perry then operationalizes the Settler Model, treating it as a hypothesis to be tested archaeologically. He develops region specific, quantifiable archaeological correlates for the model, including such factors as: military fortifications, residential settlements, cattle enclosures, cattle culling patterns (as reflected in the age and sex profiles evident in archaeological assemblages), grain storage facilities, royal tombs and settlements, and presence of European trade goods. In a rigorous statistical analysis, the Settler Model is then tested against the results of Perry's fieldwork in Swaziland and his synthesis of the archaeological literature.

Not surprisingly, Perry finds "that the Settler Model of the Mfecane/Difaqane is wrong: it has the wrong people in the wrong places with the wrong political organization, and it incorrectly assumes a lack of political/economic ties between regions." (p. 139). Noting that archaeologists need to be more attentive to issues of power, Perry concludes with specific suggestions and hypotheses for future research. He states that the scale of analysis must be expanded to include the influence of European penetration and to account for tensions and contradictions arising from the articulation of disparate modes of production. Making a careful differentiation between European "racial commodity slavery" and the various African forms of incorporation that also produced coerced labor, Perry urges careful consideration of the illegal (and hence largely undocumented) trade in African captives for the internal European market.

I have two minor quibbles, neither of which affects the validity of the research design, the author's findings, or the hypotheses for future research. The first involves Perry's characterization of the Settler Model of the Mfecane/Difaqane. Perry concurs with Cobbing's (1988) critique of the work of Omer-Cooper (1969) and others, stating that their characterization of the Mfecane/Difaqane provides an "alibi" for the actions of the European settlers. Although Perry briefly discusses how some African and African Diaspora scholars have developed vindicationist analyses of the Mfecane/Difaqane by stressing Shaka's military accomplishments and the importance of Zulu agency in resisting European penetration (pp. 13-14), the main thrust of his argument unequivocally holds that the "Zulucentric" model "vilifies the Zulu" (p. 141). However, this analysis elides both the historiographic complexities of the Mfecane/Difaqane model and the continuing power of images of Zulu military prowess in the South African political struggles. Historian Joseph C. Miller has noted the connection between the Mfecane/Difaqane model and the "nationalist-era vision of African history of the 1960s." Miller states that Omer-Cooper "drew the term 'Mfecane' from a large body of earlier historical writing but infused it with new significance as a time of revolutionary African state building and accorded it major importance as a source of pride and independence of spirit, in the historical consciousness of the African communities wholater came under white rule." (Miller 1997:154). Perry's analysis would have been enhanced by fully embracing these historiographic contradictions, by realizing that the settler model's efficacy as an ideological construct derives in part from that fact that the alibi for European invasion also simultaneously vilifies and glorifies the role of the Zulu in the history of southeastern Africa.

The second quibble involves the production values of the volume. In a work of this brevity and expense (high cost-per-page ratio) one is disappointed to find low quality, dot matrix graphics (particularly Figure 1.2). In addition, the location map should reflect the political subdivisions of post-apartheid South Africa (i.e. Mpumalanga rather than Eastern Transval, KwaZulu-Natal instead of Zululand). Finally, the discussion of landscape diversity would have been enhanced by an interpretative topographic map.

These minor objections notwithstanding, Landscape Transformations and the Archaeology of Impact remains a masterful work that will be of interest to scholars working throughout the African Diaspora.

References Cited

Cobbing, Julian
1988    The Mfecane as Alibi: Thoughts on Dithakong and Mbolompo. Journal of African History 29(3):487-519.

Miller, Joseph C.
1997    Mfecane, in Encyclopedia of Africa South of the Sahara, John Middleton, Editor in Chief, Vol. 3, pp. 153-156.

Omer-Cooper, John
1969    The Zulu Aftermath: A Nineteenth-Century Revolution in Bantu Africa, 2nd Edition. Longman, London and Ibadan.

Perry, Warren R.
1998    Dimensions of Power in Swaziland Research: Coercion, Reflexivity, and Resistance. Transforming Anthropology 7(1):2-14.

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News and Announcements

Virginia Commonwealth University's Caribbean Cultures Study Abroad Program, July 28th-August 19th, 2000. Students of any major and any class are invited to join Dr. Dan Mouer (Sociology and Anthropology) and Dr. Bernard Moitt (History) in a three-week, six-credit program in BARBADOS, West Indies. Students will earn three credits in Anthropology, and three credits in African-American Studies. For further information, please see Dr. Mouer's web page about the course, at: contact Dan at dmouer@saturn.

Archaeological Field School, University of Missouri-St.Louis, Session I: Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, June 12-30, 2000, and Session II: Arrow Rock, Missouri, July 10 - 28, 2000. This six-week archaeological field school will spend the first three weeks at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Park exploring portions of a Mississippian (A.D. l000-1400) earthen mound. The second three weeks will be spent in Arrow Rock, Missouri, exploring its industrial and African-American heritage. Excavations in Arrow Rock will concentrate on a stoneware pottery factory (1854-1870) and a late nineteenth/early twentieth-century African-American community. Contact: Dr. Tim Baumann, (314) 516-6021, tbaumann@umsl.eduWebsite:

Call for Papers: Ethnicities. This new international, cross disciplinary journal will provide a critical dialogue between debates in sociology, politics, and related disciplines. Articles are now being sought for the early issues of the journal. Potential contributors are encouraged to set their work, wherever possible, in a transnational and/or transregional perspective. Contact the editors for more information: Stephen May & Tariq Modood,Ethnicities, Sociology Department, University of Bristol, 12 Woodland Road, Bristol B58 1UQ, UK Email:

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, A Database on CD-ROM. Eltis, David, Behrendt, Stephen D., Richardson, David and Klein, Herbert S. (eds.) Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0-521-62910-1, $195.00. This CD-ROM contains the records of 27,233 transatlantic slave ship voyages made between 1595 and 1866 from all over Europe. The disk contains software that allows users to process data by the time periods and geographic regions of their choice. It also permits the downloading of data in ascii format for use in other programs. Interactive maps that allow users to establish the structure of transatlantic connections are also included.

WAC Inter-Congress on the African Diaspora, April 23-29, 2001, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. The Jacob Gelt Dekker Institute will host the first WAC Inter-Congress on the African Diaspora the goal of which is to bring together multi-disciplinary specialists to broaden understanding of the newest developments in African Diaspora research. Pre-Registration and Paper Abstract forms are now available at Jay B. Haviser, Chairman, WAC Inter-Congress on the African Diaspora, The Jacob Gelt Dekker Institute for Advanced Cultural Studies, Kiipstraat 9, Willemstad, Cura~ao, Netherlands Antilles. Tel. +5999-462-1411/1400, Fax. +5999-462-1401, Email:

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Requests for Information

Dr. Gladys Marie Frye, English Dept., University of Maryland, is researching enslaved African adornments. She is searching for artifacts related to enslaved Africans' adornment in the African diaspora (to the Carib. and US) from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, up to the end of the Civil War. She is most interested in: hairpins, combs, items related to hair preparation (such as straightening combs), buckles, belts, bangles, bracelets, neckbands, necklaces, earrings, nose rings, nose sticks, lip plugs, fingerrings, ankle rings, toe rings, ribbon and textile fragments, etc. She is also interested in locating photographs of enslaved Africans wearing items of adornment.

Ms. Leigh A. Rosborough, Anthropology Dept., University of West Florida, seeks information concerning slave presences in an industrial context for her thesis project. She is investigating a lumber mill in northwest Florida that was occupied from roughly 1763 until 1821, during the colonial occupation of Pensacola. The presence of slaves is documented on an 1816 map of the site. Survey and testing located what appears to be the overseer's residence and several associated slave cabins. She is looking for sources, either primary or secondary, historical or archaeological, books or articles, which relate to mills, mines, etc., particularly indicating the presence of both settlers and slaves. Email:

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