Archaeology along Front Street aimed at a better understanding of the living conditions of mill families during the early twentieth century. The unexpected discovery of several privies and related features give us a unique chance to study these millworkers' “material culture” (or objects they used). In examining the thousands of artifacts that made up part of their material culture (many times more did not make their way to the features we excavated), we focused on a few major questions. Given the time period of the archaeological deposits, we were especially interested in finding out how millworkers and their families participated in the expanding consumerism of the early twentieth century. This extended to mill families' consumer choices and whether they were influenced by the constant company presence even after work hours.
Image: Analysis of the artifacts from the Front Street sites revealed the exact origin of manufacture. Although the mill families participated in a national economy, buying goods made as far away as Boston and Florida, most of the items were regional or local. Improved road and rail networks made more affordable goods available.