Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Frederick H. Smith


This dissertation explores the world of early American botany and the transatlantic community of botanical enthusiasts from the perspective of William Hamilton, gentleman botanical collector in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Philadelphia. Drawing on both existing documentary sources and three seasons of archaeological excavation at The Woodlands, Hamilton's country estate on the west bank of the Schuylkill River, I analyze both the physical requirements of botanical collecting as well as the more nuanced social, cultural, and economic elements of this trade and its early modern participants.;The personal experiences of individual participants in this exchange are often traced through the existing documentary evidence they leave behind, in the form of letters, plant orders, and published works. But this botanical exchange was not just intellectual; it was also physical and material, as both knowledge about plants and the plants themselves were shipped back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean. Exploring the physical and material elements of this trade adds immeasurably to our understanding of the experiences of individual participants by locating them and the items exchanged within the physical spaces of these exchanges themselves. The archaeological investigation of William Hamilton's greenhouse complex at The Woodlands explores the physical and material elements of this trade in one specific site of exchange -- Hamilton's greenhouse complex -- and the ways in which those physical and material elements reflect the experiences of the participants in this transatlantic botanical trade.



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