Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Douglas V. Armstrong


19th-20th Centuries, Archaeology, Farmers, Fort Drum, New York, History, Maple Syrup

Subject Categories



This dissertation project uses archaeological and historical information to examine the cultural dynamics of maple syrup making at Fort Drum, New York, in the period between 1880 and 1940. This project combines a processual approach with an interpretive assessment, covering the social, economic and cultural contexts in which maple syrup was made at Fort Drum during the project research period. The project was intended, first, to expand the scope and analytical depth of an existing cultural resources management project that had proposed two size categories of maple syrup processing site among the 41 sites of this type known at Fort Drum as of 2004. The archaeological data generated by this dissertation project indicate that, instead of being divided into discrete categories based upon site size, four of the six sites tested in 2004 were rebuilt, improved, and gradually expanded through the study period, with much of this expansion taking place between 1900 and 1940. This observation points toward a far more nuanced and interactive process of change taking place in the region's maple syrup industry. Explaining and interpreting this process of change makes use of data about maple syrup making and dairy farming, the other farming operation pursued by most New York and Fort Drum maple syrup makers, derived from secondary and primary documents, principally, discussion of these two industries in "The Rural New Yorker," a farmer's journal covering the northeastern United States between 1878 and 1964. This information allowed advancement of an alternative hypothesis which explains gradual development of the Fort Drum maple syrup processing sites, and which also places maple syrup making within the broader economic, geographic, social and cultural contexts of which syrup making was a part. This project demonstrates the value of detailed and in-depth study of cultural context in archaeological explanation and in historical archaeology.


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