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Northeast Historical Archaeology

Authors

Sherene Baugher

Abstract

At Sailors’ Snug Harbor (1833 – 1976), a charitable institution for retired seamen located on Staten Island, New York, the Matron’s Cottage housed the unmarried, full-time, female employees. From 1845- 1880, it also housed the Steward and his wife in separate quarters. The women worked as seamstresses, cooks, and washerwomen. The Matron was an educated woman who could keep detailed records and was the director of the female staff. The archaeological evidence at the site of the Matron’s Cottage, together with primary source documents, reveals information on the life of these 19th-century working-class women within their household. To place the living conditions of these working-class women within the context of the conditions of other working-class women, comparisons and contrasts are made with the archaeological data gathered by Mary Beaudry and Stephen Mrozowski at another working-class women’s site, the boarding houses at Boott Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts.

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