Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Yousaf, Rebekah Zubaida (2018). Examining Slavery's Architectural Finishes: The Importance of Interdisciplinary Investigations of Humble Spaces (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


This thesis studies the evidence of architectural finishes in slave dwellings as a vehicle for understanding their lives, experiences and culture. Reviewing the finishes analyses of slave quarters in eight case studies, the author examines evidence of original finishes and observes how they can inform our understanding of slavery, including the possibility of a transfer of color traditions from Africa. The author also considers architectural and archaeological investigations performed on slave dwellings as a supplement to understanding these spaces and the use of African culture as a form of cultural resistance. The limited but important evidence underlines the need for additional research on the experience of slave life as drawn from material evidence.


architectural finishes, slavery, slave cabin, slave quarter, paint analysis



Date Posted: 11 June 2018