Families and Frontier Boys: An Archaeology of Consumerism and Identity Construction in a mid-20th Century California Community

Jessica Merizan : Anthropology

Mentor: Professor Laurie Wilkie, Anthropology

Through archaeological analysis of a dump in Northern California used by the wealthy, Anglo-American ranch family of Joe Coney and related households in the 1940s-60s, Jessica will investigate how patterns of consumerism, as shown by artifacts, negotiate with class, gender, and race, along with regional consumer styles. She plans to spend her summer researching curated documentary records, archival data, and museum collections, as well as working with a site informant who lived on the ranch and is now, interestingly, an archaeologist. Jessica believes that through an analysis of the Coneys’ material culture, she may connect their lives to period popular culture that affected the construction of household identity and further understand the relationship between national marketing strategies and regional consumer behavior.