Historical archaeologists are turning more and more attention to the study of capitalism in post-Industrialist nations. Rhoda Halperin's concept of householding considers networks of families or other groups that operate outside of the mainstream capitalist economy. The concept is most often applied in anthropological contexts, but may be a useful tool in the study of homesteading in the American West. At Benmore, a small homesteading community in southern Rush Valley, Tooele County, Utah, 20 families sought to survive by dry farming in a marginal environment. The enthusiasm of such residents as Israel Bennion, whose journal provides deep insight into the town's short existence, may have united the community under the ideology of self-sufficiency and resulted in an example of householding in early twentieth century Utah. This thesis utilizes surface data from Benmore, compared to surface and excavation data from Tintic Junction—a railroading town approximately 20 miles away from Benmore—to consider whether Benmore fits Halperin's concept of householding and the extent to which the community operated outside of the mainstream economy. The data is considered both in order to better define the community of Benmore and to determine whether Halperin's concept may be applicable to future homesteading studies throughout the American West. I argue that the specific questions considered in identifying householding are useful but that a broader theoretical approach is necessary to fully consider the dynamics of homesteading towns in Utah and the West.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Anthropology



Date Submitted


Document Type





historic archaeology, householding, Rhoda Halperin, Benmore, Tintic Junction



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Anthropology Commons