My field of study is historical archaeology, a discipline that uses method and theory from anthropology, history, and the natural sciences to investigate the development of the modern world through its physical traces. I am most interested in how and what material objects can tell us about the lived experiences of people neglected or misrepresented in written records.

My research has focused most upon nineteenth-century New York City, in the context of two long-term projects. The first, my dissertation, examined the health-related experiences and strategies of Irish immigrants in New York City, including how these newcomers utilized both familiar and new substances in healing and in manipulating their appearances. Additionally, I investigated how American interpretations of the particular ailments that afflicted Irish immigrants reinforced or reduced (depending on the affliction) notions of Irish racial difference. I have published articles related to this project and will soon complete a book with the working title, From “Irish Fever” to “The White Death”: A Visceral Historical Archaeology of Irish Immigrant Life in New York City 1845-1870.

The second major project is a collaborative study of the nearly forgotten site of Seneca Village, an important nineteenth-century majority African American community that was displaced by the city in 1857 by right of eminent domain to build Central Park. The report from the 2011 excavation (co-authored with Nan Rothschild and Diana diZerega Wall) will be available soon, and additional publications for scholars and the public are forthcoming.

Select Publications

An Archaeological Investigation of the Seneca Village Site (co-authored with Nan A. Rothschild, and Diana DiZerega Wall), prepared for the Central Park Conservancy and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. [forthcoming]

“The New York Irish: Fashioning Urban Identities in 19th-Century New York City.” In “O Brave New World”: Archaeologies of Changing Identities. Diane George and Bernice Kurchin (eds.). University of Florida Press. [In press].

“Irish Immigrant Healing Magic in Nineteenth-Century New York City.” Historical Archaeology 48(3):144–165. 2014.

“Elixir of Emigration: Soda Water and the Making of Irish Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City.” Historical Archaeology 44(4):69-109. 2010.