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Early Black History Artifacts

These artifacts are just a few of the many thousands of objects that were found at the North Shore archaeological site; the location of Providence’s Snowtown neighborhood of the 1820s to 1840s. Although the residents would have been very poor, they lived and worked using things that are mostly familiar to us today. Long-hidden objects, such as ceramic tablewares, glass bottles, toys, coins and a multitude of tools — needleworking tools, painter’s tools, metalworking tools — all offer us a glimpse into the past of those whose lives were rarely, or incompletely, documented.

Early Black History Map Providence Personalities: Early Black History

Black History Artifact-Thimble
Thimbles (1840s–1880s)

Brass sewing “motto thimble” — common in the 19th century and often given as gifts to young girls — marked Token of Friendship

Black History Artifact-Tile
Tile (1600–1800)

English tin-enameled fireplace tile with fishing scene

Early Black History Artifact-Padlock
Padlock (1840s–1890s)

Heart-shaped iron padlock with swinging brass key cover

Early Black History Artifact-Crucible and Stand
Crucible and Stand (1840s–1880s)

Small fire clay Hessian-type metalworking crucible and rack or stand

Early Black History Artifact-Painter's Pot
Painter’s Pot (1820s–1840s)

Redware, lead-glazed painter’s pot with paint layers in black, green, blue, red and yellow

Early Black History Artifact-Medicine Bottle
Medicine Bottle (1852–1867)

Dr. Langley’s Root & Herb Bitters medicine bottle, marketed to cure liver and sour stomach complaints with the motto “Buy me and I’ll do you good”

Early Black History ARtifact-Ruler
Ruler (1820s–1840s)

Bone folding ruler with brass hinge

Early Black History Artifact-Bodkin
Bodkin (1820s–1840s)

Iron bodkin, a needlework tool typically larger than a needle that was used for threading ribbons, laces and cords

Early Black History Artifact-Horseshoe
Horseshoe (1820s–1840s)

Wrought iron horseshoe

Black History Artifacts-dominoes
Dominos (1820s–1840s)

Bone and ebony domino

Early Black History Artifact-Plate
Plate (1795–1830)

Pearlware dinner plate with printed “Blue Willow” pattern

Early Black History Artifact-Coin
Coin (1822)

American 1-cent coin, Liberty Head “Coronet Matron” type

Objects are housed at The Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. in Rhode Island.