Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Benjamin Ford, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Phillip Neusius, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Charles E. Orser, Jr., Ph.D.


This thesis investigates whether Improvement and symbolic violence are represented in the archaeological record of four previously excavated sites in the famous New York neighborhood of Five Points. This investigation utilizes both the historical and archaeological records to discern which sites were possibly influenced by Improvement and symbolic violence. Archaeological evidence shows the possibility of Improvement and symbolic violence at one of these four sites. An analysis of theoretical and historical literature concerning Improvement, enclosure, Victorian idealism, Paternalism and symbolic violence is included to enable a discussion of what could be considered American Improvement. This thesis also contributes to a discussion of utilizing site information developed by cultural resource management companies during compliance related excavations to answer new, unrelated, research questions to further our understanding of the past.