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 chairunderscoring 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.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.