Lunch and learn

Lunch & Learn: Alden Archaeology

Alden Archaeology: Exhibiting the Daily Lives of a Mayflower Family

This program is made free to the public, both virtually and in person, through support from the Plymouth Local Cultural Council.

Options of Online or In-person available

In 2019, the Alden House Historic Site in Duxbury, Massachusetts, installed a new archaeology exhibit for the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower Landing. The exhibit was the first permanent, professional installation based on the archaeological collection from the 1960 Roland Robbins excavation of the John and Priscilla Alden First House site. The exhibit drew on recent research and re-examination of the Alden and other Plymouth Colony archaeological sites and collections, and used documentary evidence, photographs, images, and reproductions to tell a new narrative of daily life in 17th Century Plymouth Colony. This presentation will explore the challenges and opportunities this archaeological exhibit and accompanying catalog offered for telling the Aldens’ story, their daily lives, their interaction with Native Americans and other colonists, and their connection to the wider Atlantic world.

Speaker Bio

Stephen O’Neill is a graduate of Boston College and Boston University. He is currently the Executive Director of the Hanover Historical Society. In 2019, he was the Guest Curator for the archaeology exhibit In Small Things Remembered at the Alden House Historic Site in Duxbury, and in 2021 authored the accompanying catalogue Alden Archaeology: Exhibiting the Daily Lives of a Mayflower Family.

In 2018, O’Neill was the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities-funded Scholar-in-Residence at the Old Colony History Museum in Taunton.

He was Senior Lecturer in History at Suffolk University in Boston where he taught a very popular course on the History of Piracy. He was formerly the Associate Director & Curator of Collections at Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth. In 2012 he contributed the essay “Caribbean Buccaneers in New England,” to New England and the Caribbean, the 2008 Dublin Seminar Annual Proceedings.

O’Neill has curated more than twenty temporary exhibitions and was guest curator for the 1999 exhibit Putting Pirates on Trial in Puritan Boston at The Old State House Museum in Boston and for the 2006 exhibit A Short Life and Merry: Pirates of New England at Heritage Museums & Gardens on Cape Cod. He has lectured widely on Plymouth Colony and Pirate history, and has lead tours of many burying grounds and cemeteries.

In 2020, O’Neill contributed the essay “Day-to-Day Life in the 17th Century” to Duxbury: Our Pilgrim Story. Also in 2020, O’Neill authored The Life of Peregrine White: The First Englishman Born in New England, published by the Marshfield Historical Society.

O’Neill is a lifelong resident of the South Shore, a member of the Old Colony Club in Plymouth, a life member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and a Proprietor of the Boston Athenaeum.