Intersecting Biographies: The Life of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte Told Through Her Possessions (1810-1860)




Colby, Yve Claire Louise

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Through a close analysis of the belongings of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, in combination with supporting primary source documents, this thesis explores how an elite woman negotiated the conflicts surrounding the creation of an American identity in Federal and Victorian America using material artifacts. At a time when the United States was still a newly formed nation, Americans questioned how civic and political roles for people of varying classes, genders, and races should be shaped. They also evaluated to what degree they should mimic or castoff the social customs and political practices of the European and British monarchies. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte participated in both of these debates with her material choices, and used these objects along with her business savvy to create and shape a social and personal identity for herself.



Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, Shopping, Material culture, Women's history, Consumption, Federal era