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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Campbell, Sarah K.

Second Advisor

Marshall, Robert C., 1948-

Third Advisor

Hammond, Joyce D., 1950-


Community plays a critical role in human life and this project explores community on multiple levels, both through exploration of a historic socialist community, the Equality Colony, and through its use of the community archaeology method. In 1897 the Brotherhood of the Cooperative Commonwealth, a Maine based socialist political group, put out a call to its membership of over 2,000 people across the nation to move to Washington State. Their long term goal was to win the heart of the state for American socialism. The short term goal was to establish a colony to demonstrate the utility of socialist living to the country. The long term goal was never realized; the short term goal resulted in the formation of the Equality Colony, which existed in Skagit County, Washington from 1897 to 1907. The Equality Colony has received some attention from historians but this is the first archaeological investigation. In fact, there has been little archaeological research of utopian communities in the Northwest region at all. By apply a strong anthropological theoretical framework; this project brings a new perspective and new insight to this fascinating piece of history and lays groundwork for archaeological survey on the former Equality Colony land. Historical research, including analysis of recorded interviews with former Equality Colony members and descendents, as well as historic photographs, maps, and documents, was utilized to both gain new insight into the Equality Colony history and to generate archaeological research questions. In the course of this project a wealth of information pertinent to the creation of an archaeological research design was compiled and explored. Work with a variety of maps and aerial photographs succeeded in locating the former Equality Colony infrastructure on the modern landscape. The Equality Colony land is privately owned today and archaeological survey(s) of this land cannot be carried out without landowner cooperation. This thesis project utilized the community archaeology method to lay the groundwork for archaeological survey. Community archaeology is the purposeful engagement of a community, most often the local and/or descendant community, in an archaeological project. Community engagement activities for this project included mail correspondence with the landowners, public talks, a landowner meeting, and various other community interactions. Through landowner engagement I was able to do the first ever archaeological survey on a portion of the historic Equality Colony site. The community archaeological method is being increasingly utilized but best practice guidelines have yet to be established. By documenting my own community archaeology process I hope to contribute to the growing body of work from which guidelines may be created.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Equality Colony (Skagit County, Wash.)--History; Collective settlements--Washington (State)--Equality Colony (Skagit County); Community life--Washington (State)--Equality Colony (Skagit County); Archaeology--Social aspects; Archaeology--Political aspects; Archaeology--Methodology

Geographic Coverage

Equality Colony (Skagit County, Wash.)




masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

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