In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life

In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life

by James Deetz


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History is recorded in many ways. According to  author James Deetz, the past can be seen most fully  by studying the small things so often forgotten.  Objects such as doorways, gravestones, musical  instruments, and even shards of pottery fill in the  cracks between large historical events and depict  the intricacies of daily life. In his completely  revised and expanded edition of In Small  Things Forgotten, Deetz has added new  sections that more fully acknowledge the presence  of women and African Americans in Colonial  America. New interpretations of archaeological finds  detail how minorities influenced and were affected  by the development of the Anglo-American tradition  in the years following the settlers' arrival in  Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. Among Deetz's  observations:
Subtle changes in building long before the  Revolutionary War hinted at the growing independence  of the American colonies and their desire to be  less like the  British.

Records of estate auctions show that many  households in Colonial America contained only one  chair—underscoring the patriarchal nature of the  early American family. All other members of the  household sat on stools or the  floor.

The excavation of a tiny community of  freed slaves in Massachusetts reveals evidence of  the transplantation of African culture to North  America.

Simultaneously  a study of American life and an explanation of  how American life is studied, In Small  Things Forgotten, through the everyday  details of ordinary living, colorfully depicts a  world hundreds of years in the past.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385483995
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/1996
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 433,922
Product dimensions: 5.13(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.61(d)

About the Author

James Deetz died in November 2000. Patricia Scott Deetz is a cultural historian with an MA in history from Rhodes University, South Africa. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a classic book, still used in most archaeology curriculums in the US. Deetz's writing is not only clear and informative to the archaeologist but easily accessible to the average reader with an interest in history, archaeology and social analysis. This is a book that many people have told me created a real "aha" moment and created a shift in how they saw their world. I own this on hard copy, but also got a version for my Nook.
Othemts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is an absolute classic of historical archaeology literature. Deetz examines what small, seemingly insignificant artifacts can tell us about the lives of people of the past and complement -- or even contradict -- what is missing from the written historical record. My favorite chapter on the evolution of headstones in New England cemeteries and how their evolution reflects changes in religious belief.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For in-depth historians this is a must; for casual readers, not so much. But to follow the reasoning of a scholar pioneering a new hybrid discipline is a privilege. James Deetz was my first Anthropology professor and memorably charismatic, so even now I can imbue his written words with visions of his expressions. He draws theoretical conclusions about Colonial America from archaeological digs and written historical records combined, and interprets African influences showing up in objects and house styles both in Colonial New England and the South. The reader "gets it" that each new piece of evidence, when its place in the general field of knowledge can be tentatively determined, is exciting and valuable.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago