Divided We Eat
Social Hierarchy in Dining
|Still Life with Fish, by Pieter Claesz. Courtesy of Rijksmuseum.|
What did you eat for lunch today? Answering this question from the perspective of a 17th-century Harvard student can illustrate vast differences between now and then. In the 21st century, Harvard provides the same dining experience for any student through a universally shared meal plan. With increasing economic diversity at Harvard, this meal plan becomes essential for creating an environment of equality. At 17th-century Harvard, however, students had varying dining experiences depending on criteria like age and wealth.
Food becomes a way to understand inequalities at early Harvard. While most 17th-century food disintegrated hundreds of years ago, uncovering archaeological food remains like animal bones and studying written archives allowed us to explore the daily dining differences among 17th-century Harvard students.
Harvard's Daily Schedule
|Above: Oyster shells from Colonial Harvard Yard, PM 999-22-10/86452. Below: Cow bone from Colonial Harvard Yard, PM 980-3-10/99980.|