The Archaeology of Slavery in the Hudson River Valley

slave object.jpg

Courtesy of New York Historical Society

Caesar: A Slave, ca. 1850.
New-York Historical Society

The archaeology of slavery in the Hudson River Valley project has the broad goal of exploring the material evidence of slavery as it existed in Hudson River Valley from the seventeenth through the early nineteenth centuries. Slavery has often been portrayed in the media as a southern phenomenon ending with the civil war. Yet, a rich historical scholarship has been produced on the institution of slavery and how it functioned in the Northeast.  Far less has been written on the material lives of enslaved people or how the use of enslaved labor structured the acquisition and use of material culture by those who engaged in slavery. This is especially true of the middle and upper Hudson Valley regions. This project aims to address this void by using archaeological data recovered from sites along the Hudson River to demonstrate the impact of slavery on the lives of both free and enslaved people of New York State.