Date of Graduation

Summer 2015


Master of Science in Applied Anthropology


Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Elizabeth Sobel


historical archaeology, ceramic economic indexing, socioeconomic inequality, Springfield

Subject Categories



For decades, archaeologists have applied George Miller's ceramic indexing method to the historical archaeological record to quantify ceramic expenditure patterns. However, Miller's method is suited primarily to antebellum assemblages of ceramic artifacts. In this study, I developed a new ceramic economic indexing method, designed expressly for assemblages postdating the 1870s. This was done by gathering ceramic price data from historic mail order catalogs dating between the 1880s and 1920s and using minimally decorated white earthenware as a baseline to produce twelve new indices. This new indexing method extends ceramic scaling to late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century ceramic assemblages. The new indices were applied to a turn-of-the-twentieth-century ceramic assemblage from Springfield, Missouri to assess their utility as an indicator of socioeconomic status. The case study shows that the new indices can be applied with relative ease to historical archaeological assemblages. The case study also clarifies, and raises new questions about, historical relationships between household expenditure and other dimensions of household status including wealth, occupation, and ascribed race in Southwest Missouri.


© Jennifer Amanda Rideout

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