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SHAPING IDENTITY >> CONSUMER GOODS ARCHITECTURE AFRICANISMS
   

The things we buy and use express who we are, often revealing and reinforcing our cultural or ethnic identity. Archeologists studying material remains from the Robinson House gained insight into the ways in which family members expressed their identity while negotiating their position as African Americans during the turbulent 19th century.

Similar to people today, they expressed themselves in a variety of ways—from clothing style and language to material goods and architecture. Ceramic sherds and broken glass, for example, provide clues to the family’s economic strategies and social aspirations by indicating to archeologists the things they bought and used.

Like other 19th-century American families, the Robinsons followed the dominant dining standards of the time. Rather than buying entire china sets, they used a few refined ceramic dishes in the latest style, and purchased similar pieces to complement them.

  (photo) Orange crush bottle.
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(photo) Ceramic plates recovered from the Robinson site.

Bottles found at the site indicate the Robinsons consumed popular products like Orange Crush soda.

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