Eric Schweickart

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Tennessee, Knoxville, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9626

Approve Date

April 13, 2018

Project Title

Schweickart, Eric G., U. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN - To aid research on 'Consumer Behavior and Household Complexity: Marketplace Interactions among Virginia's 18th-Century Enslaved Families,' supervised by Dr. Barbara Heath

ERIC G. SCHWEICKART, then a graduate student at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, received funding in April 2018 to aid research on ‘Consumer Behavior and Household Complexity: Marketplace Interactions among Virginia’s 18th Century Enslaved Families,’ supervised by Dr. Barbara Heath. This research project examines the intersection between households and global networks of commodity exchange in mid-18th-century Virginia. Drawing upon the extraordinary archaeological resources in and around Williamsburg, Virginia, this project examines whether more complex households, comprised of extended family and/or non-kin residents, serve to limit the consumer choices of their constituent members more than simple, nuclear households do. Household complexity among enslaved laborers in Virginia was constrained by the stability of plantation ownership. Larger, more stable plantations allowed for more complex enslaved households to form. Therefore, comparing the degree of similarity between the material attributes of copper alloy buttons associated with enslaved African-American households as they transitioned from a period of high plantation stability during the third quarter of the 18th century to a period of low plantation stability following the American Revolution allows for the examination of how consumer behavior is effected by changes in household complexity. Fieldwork for this project included examining 670 buttons associated with twelve different archaeological sites dating to the second half of the 18th century. Drawing upon this dataset, this project will determine the importance of household complexity as a factor which influenced the rise and spread of consumerism in the 18th century.