Historic Philadelphia Mapping Resources

My research on indentured and enslaved servants’ lives has led me to mapping out their existence on historic maps of Philadelphia. I’m hoping to better understand their relation to the community, merchants, and manufacturers in their environment. I’ve found some … Continue reading

What I’ve Been Reading: Buying Into A World of Goods by Ann Smart Martin

Read this great book on 18th century commerce in the backwoods of Virginia. Ann Smart Martin’s Buying into the World of Goods: Early Consumers in Backcountry Virginia is incredibly readable (and available on Kindle to boot! Or in full at … Continue reading

Working with the Dixon Ledgers, Port Royal, Virginia

My personal research focuses on the dress of indentured and enslaved servant women from 1750-1790. While I was in DC for work recently, I was able to slip over to the Library of Congress for a couple of hours and … Continue reading

Connecting the Dots: Convict Servants in Maryland

Eddie Izzard puns on the Church of England: “Cake or Death?” For people found guilty of committing small crimes in England, transportation to the American colonies for seven to fourteen years of bound servitude was the cake option. Overcrowding in England’s … Continue reading

Museum Monday: Maryland State Archives in 2013

For a building built in 1984, I think the Maryland State Archives inspires. Maybe it strikes a chord with me akin to the library buildings of my childhood. Unlike it’s colonial and colonial revival ancestors further down Rowe Blvd in … Continue reading

(Music Plays) Lydia, The Tattoed Lady – An eighteenth century woman’s tattoo

The New Yorker Photo Booth blog highlighted tattoed women and a book about them Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo by Margot Mifflin (1997). The photograph of Maud Wagner caught my eye, my first perception of a Gibson … Continue reading

Shifting Garment Styles, 1750-1790: What Research and Sketching Have in Common

Historical research is like sketching. You begin with a few pieces of data, allowing you to make some bold strokes on a piece of white paper. You identify what sorts of primary resources will improve that image, and it redirects … Continue reading

Halloween Comes to Downton Abbey

I predicted in this post from April that people would be hot to trot for Downton Abbey influenced costumes this Halloween. True to form, a lot of readers have been finding my blog by searching on “downton abbey halloween costumes.” I’m … Continue reading

Nanny – A Servant Wager Cup

Online databases are incredible tools. While my museum career has mostly focused on textiles, dress, and ethnographic materials, I never know what is going to inspire me when I search mfa.org, metmuseum.org, emuseum.history.org (Colonial Williamsburg), and so forth. There was a … Continue reading

Runaway Scavenger Hunt

In researching the lives of indentured and enslaved women during the 18th century, I’m trying to rebuild their communities, to better understand their lives. See my article ‘Had on When She Went Away . . .’: Expanding the Usefulness of Garment Data in American Runaway Advertisements 1750–90 … Continue reading