Canterbury Shaker Village: medicines as seen through archeological artifacts

Thumbnail Image
Hall, Elizabeth B.
For over a hundred years, Shakers at Canterbury, New Hampshire, were engaged in the preparation of medicinal remedies that were used by the Shakers themselves, exchanged with other Shaker communities and sold to "The World's People." Excavations directed by Dr. David Starbuck (Plymouth State University) during the 1990s at Canterbury Shaker Village have provided artifacts in the form of bottles and partial glass bottle fragments. From this base, research into these artifacts has provided a picture of Canterbury Shaker medicinal manufacture, distribution and some later replacement of remedies used at the Village. This study attempts to answer questions raised by these artifacts: (1) What types of medicinal preparations were most prevalent? What medicines were most commonly used? (2) How did usage of these medicines compare to non-Shaker medicinal usage in the local area? (3) What inferences can be drawn regarding health problems in the 19th and early 20th centuries at Canterbury Shaker Village? (4) To what extent did the Shakers, hired help and/or visitors make use of the medicines?