Victorian Identity and Material Culture
Department or Program
College of Arts and Sciences
Faculty Mentor #1
The plantation house at Sherwood Forrest Plantation (44ST615) was home to two upper-class white families in the latter portion of the 19th-century. During the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons of the University of Mary Washington field school, an American Civil War-era midden was excavated in the yard behind the plantation house. Through this excavation, various artifacts associated with both families were uncovered, including a German-made, hard-paste porcelain clown head. The presence of this artifact, in addition to other items of “bric-a-brac,” indicate that at least one of these two families were participating in the home decorating trend of conspicuously displaying decorative objects. The possession of and choice in these objects could signal the social class, cultural literacy, and cultural capital of a victorian individual or family. In this paper, I will further explore this victorian relationship between constructed identity and material possessions.