Over the past thirty years, many scholars, students, and interested New Yorkers have worked to figuratively and literally unearth the history of Seneca Village and the experiences of its residents from archives and artifacts. This year’s BGC Teen Thinkers, twenty-four amazing NYC high school students, built upon that research and created this digital exhibition to share their discoveries with you.
Each Teen Thinker investigated one, usually fragmentary, artifact found during the 2011 archaeological excavation of a small part of the village. Each student first identified what their object was and researched how it was generally acquired, used, and understood in 19th-century NYC. Next, they considered these same questions in the specific context of Seneca Village, delving into equally fragmentary historical documents and maps and gleaning insights from the larger assemblage of artifacts archaeologists recovered from the site. Finally, the teens worked in groups of four to bring together their individual object research around a shared theme and illuminate an aspect of village life.
The Work, Kitchen and Table, and Care of the Body groups investigated objects unearthed from the buried ruins of a house owned by William Godfrey Wilson, a porter and sexton of All Angels’ Church, his wife Charlotte Morris Wilson, and their eight children.
The Recreation, Tea, and Presentation of the Self groups researched artifacts uncovered from the buried village ground surface, where there had been a yard between a house rented by the newlywed couple William and Matilda Phillips and another house owned by the Websters, a blended family composed of George Webster, his wife Eliza, their young son, and Eliza’s four children from a previous marriage.
Click on one of the themes below to explore the Teen Thinkers’ discoveries and to learn more about Seneca Village.