Historic St. Mary’s City’s living history exhibits are closed for the winter, and will reopen March 14, 2023.

The museum Visitor Center is closed beginning December 1, 2022, and will reopen January 4, 2023.

The Shop at Farthing's Ordinary is open for your holiday shopping needs Tuesday—Saturday from 10:00 a.m.—4:00 p.m. through December 17, 2022.

The Embrey Dissertation Collection

The Embrey Dissertation Collection is a memorial to James Whitlock Embrey, a person who made major contributions to St. Mary’s City archaeology.  The collection is supported by the Embrey Archaeology Fund whose purpose is to make reports, theses, and dissertations about St. Mary’s City and its archaeology available.  

  1. Embrey, James W.  A Search to Identify the Seventeenth-Century Shoreline of St. Mary’s City, Maryland.  1999.  Master of Arts Thesis.  East Carolina University.

Embrey thesis

The St. Mary’s River bordering Maryland’s first city has very high potential for yielding significant archaeological resources.  This report presents results of the first systematic study of the shoreline near the center of the 17th-century capital.  It provides an overview of St. Mary’s City history, assembles the cartographic record for the St. Mary’s River and utilizes a new near-shore underwater survey methodology.  Many discoveries were made during this survey including colonial and 19th-century vessels, 19th-century maritime facilities, and a underwater topographic feature that links directly to 17th-century land survey documents.  Conclusions are presented about the changes that have occurred to the St. Mary’s City shoreline since the early 17th century. 

  1. Keeler, Robert W.  The Homelot on the Seventeenth Century Chesapeake Tidewater Frontier.  1978.  Doctoral dissertation.  University of Oregon.

Keeler dissertation

This is a study of the homelot, one aspect of the settlement pattern on the seventeenth-century Chesapeake Tidewater frontier. The homelot was the area around the dwellings of seventeenth-century plantations. The yards, fences and outbuildings which made up a plantation homelot were the focal points for a variety of domestic activities and were a vital element in the material culture of the early Chesapeake colonists.

The study begins with a consideration of the frontier as a distinct socio-cultural phenomenon and process and presents the Chesapeake tidewater region in the seventeenth century as an example of a frontier. The Chesapeake frontier homelot provides an excellent opportunity for the combination of archaeological and documentary data in an interdisciplinary study of hum.an behavior in the seventeenth century. The advantages and problems of such an approach are outlined and the utility of a material culture perspective is considered.

Following this discussion is an analysis of the organization and use of space within seventeenth-century Chesapeake frontier homelots. The main body of data for this analysis consists of the archaeological remains of the homelot at St. John’s, a seventeenth-century plantation in St. Mary’s City, Maryland. Other archaeological sites in the seventeenth-century Chesapeake tidewater region are also considered. Various archival sources provide material for interpreting the archaeological remains of human activities and expand the quantity of information available concerning homelots on the seventeenth-century Chesapeake tidewater frontier.

These various data sources, archaeological and documentary, are combined to create an image of homelot organization and activity in the seventeenth-century Chesapeake tidewater region. Changes in homelot layout and use through time are delineated and interpreted as material manifestations of cultural change and development in a maturing frontier context.

  1. Miller, Henry M. Colonization and Subsistence Change on the Seventeenth Century Chesapeake Frontier.  1984.  Doctoral dissertation.  Michigan State University.  

Miller dissertation

Colonization is a process by which people occupy and adapt to new lands and environments. In this study, a model of colonization is used to derive six hypotheses that predict how human subsistence patterns will change in frontier settings. These hypotheses are tested with archaeological data from 17th and early 18th Century colonial sites in the Chesapeake Bay region of Maryland and Virginia, scene of the earliest British settlement in the New World. Animal remains comprise the primary data base. The findings demonstrate that the diet altered dramatically during the 17th Century. Early subsistence was generalist in nature, relying upon a diversity of domestic and wild animals, and the diet was highly seasonal in character. Through time, subsistence patterns became focused upon two domestic animals – cattle and swine. Usage of wild game declined significantly as the diet became more specialized. Trends of change toward more complexity, greater stability and reduced seasonal variation in subsistence are also identified.

All but one of the hypotheses are supported. Increased subsistence variation between households through time due to socio- economic factors did not occur as predicted. Variation was most pronounced during the early phases of settlement and became less pronounced through time, despite evidence for greater social and economic stratification in Chesapeake society. This discovery suggests that dietary differences between socio- economic groups may not be an inevitable feature of social stratification.

Colonization is a distinctive, pervasive cultural process. Through a model of colonization, patterns of subsistence change are elucidated. Application of the colonization model to a particular historical setting reveals the importance of considering broad cultural process as well as specific historical factors in explaining change.

  1. Stone, Garry Wheeler.  Society, Housing, and Architecture in Early Maryland: John Lewger’s St. John’s.  1982.  Doctoral dissertation.  University of Pennsylvania.

Stone dissertation