My field of study is historical archaeology, a discipline that draws upon method and theory from cultural anthropology, history, and the natural sciences to investigate the development of the modern world through its physical traces in combination with other sources, including documents and oral histories. I am most interested in how and what material remains can tell us about the lived, embodied experiences of people neglected or misrepresented in written records.

My research has focused most upon nineteenth-century New York City, through two long term projects. The first, culminating in a soon-to-be-published book, Irish Fever: An Archaeology of Illness, Injury, and Healing in New York City, 18451875, is about the health-related experiences of Irish immigrants in New York City in the mid-nineteenth century. I trace how Irish immigrants grappled with three kinds of health problems that disproportionately afflicted them—typhus fever (then called “Irish Fever”), work-related injuries, and tuberculosis—and how these conditions affected their reception and integration into American society. Native-born Americans interpreted the visible effects of typhus fever and hard labor on Irish immigrant bodies as symptoms of essential Irish difference, fueling dehumanizing stereotypes, and yet, reacted more sympathetically to those afflicted by tuberculosis; this then all-too-familiar scourge enabled some Americans to recognize equal humanity in Irish sufferers. The book focuses equally on how Irish immigrants, themselves, responded with a variety of healing strategies, including using remedies with origins in Ireland and commodities newly available to them in New York City.

The second project is an ongoing, collaborative study of Seneca Village, a community founded by African Americans in 1825 that was displaced by the City of New York in 1857 to build Central Park. I co-authored the 2018 archaeological site report and several articles with the project directors, Nan Rothschild and Diana diZerega Wall. I am currently leading a collaborative digital project about the village. I am also editing a book about the archaeology of African American communities, Revealing Communities: The Archaeology of Free African Americans in the Nineteenth Century, to be published in BGC’s Cultural Histories of the Material World Series. This book is an expansion of a symposium I organized at BGC in 2020.

Select Publications
Irish Fever: An Archaeology of Illness, Injury, and Healing in New York City, 8451875. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, January 2024.

“Seneca Village Interpretations: Bringing Collaborative Historical Archaeology and Heritage Advocacy to the Forefront and Online” (co-authored with Nan A. Rothschild and Diana diZerega Wall). In Advocacy and Archaeology: Urban Intersections, edited by Kelly M. Britt and Diane F. George, 68–97. New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 2023.

“Neither Snake Oils nor Miracle Cures: Interpreting Nineteenth-Century Proprietary Medicines.” Historical Archaeology special issue “Constructing Bodies and Persons: Health and Medicine in Historic Social Contexts” 56, no. 4 (2022): 681–702.

“The New York Irish: Fashioning Urban Identities in 19th-Century New York City.” In “O Brave New World”: Archaeologies of Changing Identities, edited by Diane George and Bernice Kurchin, 39–66. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2019.

“Constructing Identity in Seneca Village” (co-authored with Diana diZerega Wall and Nan A. Rothschild). In “O Brave New World”: Archaeologies of Changing Identities, edited by Diane F. George and Bernice Kurchin, 157–80. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2019.

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, 2018.

“Irish Immigrant Healing Magic in Nineteenth-Century New York City.” Historical Archaeology 48, no. 3 (2014): 144–165.

“Elixir of Emigration: Soda Water and the Making of Irish Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City.” Historical Archaeology 44 no. 4 (2010): 69-109.
Selected Courses
474. Archaeology of African American Communities

481. Unsettling Things (with Aaron Glass [2021], with Drew Thompson [2023])

485. Medical Materialities

490. Digital Archaeological Heritage (with Caspar Meyer)

502. Approaches to the Object (with Jeffrey Collins [2018]; with Paul Stirton [2019]; with Freyja Hartzell [2020])

964. Excavating the Empire City

965. Historical Archaeological Approaches to Race and Ethnicity

970. Archaeological Lab Methods

991. Archaeologies of American Life