Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Martin Gallivan


The town of Coloma, Montana was settled in the early 1890s as the home of several gold mining companies and their associated employees. Like so many boom towns, the residents had all but abandoned Coloma by 1916. This initial boom phase for Coloma transpired during a critical point in the emergence of modern capitalism, specifically in changing corporate managerial practices. A multi-company open town, Coloma lacked many of the typical characteristics of a paternalistic community, such as scrip and strictly segregated housing. Instead of outright domineering and controlling managerial practices, companies at Coloma manipulated and coerced their work forces through the control of the food provisioning system. This study demonstrates that companies at Coloma dominated the purchase, distribution, and consumption of food through the establishment of a centralized store and company-associated boardinghouses. Companies also offered meals as a type of labor mobilization feast to entice and retain labor populations. to explore the varying degrees of manipulation, this study employs the concept of the system of provision to organize a multi-scalar analysis that addresses the importation, distribution, preparation, and consumption of food products at Coloma. Through the lens of food distribution, this study examines archaeological materials and historical documents to show the extent to which Coloma's companies employed manipulative managerial practices.



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