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Historical Archaeology

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 7–36 | Cite as

A survey of domestic reform movement sites in Boston and Cambridge, Ca. 1865–1905

  • Suzanne M. Spencer-Wood
Article

Abstract

This research is concerned with identifying site types connected with socio-political movements directed at improving women’s status by shifting women’s gender roles from the domestic to the public sphere. This survey is specifically concerned with potential archaeological contributions to our knowledge of women’s domestic reform movements in 19th century Boston and Cambridge. Domestic reform movements are particularly appropriate for archaeological research because they attempted to raise women’s status by altering the material culture conditions supporting the continuation of women’s work in the private domestic sphere, in a subordinate position to men’s work in the public sphere. Domestic movements tried to achieve women’s equality by transforming housework from private unremunerated labor into marketable professional wage labor comparable to men’s skilled occupations. A site survey has been undertaken to archaeologically assess the impacts of domestic reform movements on the historic use of urban space, by measuring the quantity, variety, and distribution of sites associated with these movements. This survey was undertaken to address three questions. First, what new site types were 1) generated by and 2) survive from these domestic movements? Second, what can be learned about the scale and impacts of housekeeping movements from their site type distribution patterns? Third, some suggestions are made for archaeological identification of domestic reform site types and ways that archaeological data could contribute to our understanding of how these movements changed participants’ lifeways.

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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suzanne M. Spencer-Wood
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Research on WomenWellesley CollegeWellesleyUSA

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