Marian Desrosiers, a member of the NCSS Board of Directors and an adjunct professor of history at Salve Regina University, has been awarded a $2,000 Rhode Island Council on the Humanities (RICH) Scholar Grant. Marian, who taught for two decades in public secondary schools, submitted the win- ning proposal, “Private Lives and Public Spaces: John Banister and Rhode Island’s Colonial Consumers.” This autumn, NCSS will post online several classroom lessons based on Marian’s research.
The focus of Marian’s study, John Banister (1707–1767), was a wealthy merchant of colonial Newport, Rhode Island, whose role in history may be interpreted through his account books. Marian’s research will consider: (1) the types and quantities of products traded; (2) the details of building and outfit- ting of ships; (3) the importance of European and Asian textiles in the English colonies prior to the Industrial Revolution; (4) the costs and types of family expenses dictated by need and status; and (5) income comparisons of merchants, captains, sailors, craftsmen, and laborers. The analysis will include “Negroes” and other laborers who worked on his wharf or in maintaining his ships, as well as women seamstresses from whom he bought suits.
By summarizing and analyzing the account books and correspondence, Marian’s study will expand our understanding of how globalization and technology reshaped private lives in the eighteenth century.