Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




Christopher Grasso

Committee Member

Nicholas Popper

Committee Member

Fabrício Prado


“Painting, Gilding, Glazing, etc.” This paper uses newspaper advertisements to describe house painters who worked in Virginia between 1760 and 1840. Virginia house painters were a varied group, many from England or of British descent, who began their trade in America as journeymen and masters, convict servants, indentured servants, or apprentices. Among them, enslaved blacks and Indians also practiced the trade. At a basic level, house painters were men with the knowledge to make paint and execute elaborate decorative finishes. From that commonality, however, the skills and services painters offered diverged, especially when they competed with one another and consequently added to their skill sets. Fashion dictated the decorative techniques painters offered, such as graining, marbling, jappanning, and gilding, but they also included other services like sign painting and picture frame making. House painting in Virginia was never a truly defined profession. The trade existed because knowledge and skills were required to make and artistically apply paint, but it continued to be practiced by men from a variety of social positions, sometimes from different trades, who supplemented their work with diverse skills and services. “Shad, Herring, and Slavery in the Chesapeake Bay and Albemarle Sound” Before the late nineteenth century, millions of shad and herring swam up rivers in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina during March and April. These fish, caught in huge quantities, provided food for people living near these rivers, especially poor farmers. Despite their subsistence use, shad and herring were tightly connected with slavery. Enslaved people in the West Indies produced the salt to preserve them. Plantation owners near the Chesapeake and Albemarle Sound took advantage of the reliable protein source, and forced enslaved workers to haul in the fish. This catch, salted and preserved for months, composed rations for slaves, as well as a source of income for the planters because they sold excess fish to other plantations in southern America and the West Indies. Thus, even at the subsistence level, these fish could not be divorced from the economics of the Atlantic world. Shad and herring in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina were an integral food and commodity, but within the broader economic structure, they were a tool for the perpetuation of slavery.



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