Sarah Chesney

Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Anthropology
College of William and Mary

2013 to 2014
Research Fellow

The Fruit of Their Labors: Exploring William Hamilton's Greenhouse Complex and the Rise of American Botany in Early Federal Philadelphia

Abstract: This dissertation project is a historical and archaeological exploration of the world of early American botany and the transatlantic community of scholars and botanical enthusiasts from the perspective of William Hamilton, Philadelphia gentleman and well-known botanical collector in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century Philadelphia. Beginning with the archaeological investigation of Hamilton’s extraordinary greenhouse complex at his country estate known as The Woodlands, I explore both the physical requirements of botanical collecting as well as the more nuanced social, cultural, and economic elements of this trade and its Philadelphia participants. As the field of botany was becoming both more popular and more narrowly defined in the early nineteenth century Hamilton’s greenhouse acts as a focal point, and provides a chance to explore the individual experience of a botanical enthusiast negotiating the changing landscape of early American science. Read more about Sarah's Consortium-funded research project here.