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Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Discoveries found while digging in the Independence Park Archives are to be the subject of an upcoming talk at the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology Chapter 21 meeting:
Ultra Sonic Inventions, a Cold War Landscape, and Reclaimed Wetlands: New Archaeological Discoveries From the Independence National Historical Park Archives. Presented by Patrice L. Jeppson, Ph.D.
When: Wednesday June 1st
at 7:00 pm Where: Joanna Furnace (Directions)
This talk will report on some of the discoveries emerging in the archaeological records management project chronicled in this blog. The 50+ years worth of archaeological field notes, administrative reporting, assorted correspondence, and contracts provides important insights into the development of American Historical Archaeology and the history of American memory-making in one National Park. The talk will highlight several of these new findings discovered to date including some 'Firsts' in archaeological lab and field methods, a possible contribution to the National Register of Cold War Archaeological sites, and an Independence Mall 'doppelganger' site along the Susquehanna.
The Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology " was organized in 1929 to promote the study of the prehistoric and historic archaeological resources of Pennsylvania and neighboring states; to encourage scientific research and discourage exploration which is unscientific or irresponsible in intent or practice; to promote the conservation of archaeological sites, artifacts, and information; to encourage the establishment and maintenance of sources of archaeological information such as museums, societies, and educational programs; to promote the dissemination of archaeological knowledge by means of publications and forums; and to foster the exchange of information between the professional and the avocational archaeologists".
SPA 21 is an active group of professional and avocational archaeologists operating in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Chapter #21, the John Shrader Chapter, meets on the 1st Wedensday each month at 7:00/7:30 p.m., at the Joanna Furnace, Berks County, PA. For information, contact Chapter Representative (and PDOT archaeologist) Cathy Spohn: (610) 678-1274 or email: email@example.com . You can follow the groups many exciting doings on their Facebook page.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Chickies Rock and a Pennsylvania Railroad Low Grade (rail siding) located northwest of Columbia, PA, along the Susquehanna River. Oral history and brief preliminary research suggest that demolition debris created during the construction of Independence Mall in the 1950's may have been used to fill in a lake located adjacent to this segment of rail line.
A possible important archaeological and archival insight emerged out of the blue this week when the chief of the History branch at INHP (Jed Levin) traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to serve as keynote speaker for the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County's 44th annual meeting.
The delivered talk was about the Independence Mall re-development project (in specific, the President's House site) --but the urban archaeology and mall-based focus of the presentation led to new oral history information about a possible new Independence Park-related historical archaeology site.
Demolition debris deposits dating to the park's creation have regularly been encountered during archaeological work in the park, most recently at the Mall sites of the National Constitution Center (constructed 2000-2003), the Liberty Bell Pavillion (constructed 1999-2001), and the President's House site commemoration (excavated in 2007). The debris is composed of building elements (for example, wood, stone, mortar, brick, plaster, and cement structural remains) along with material culture evidence (namely domestic and small industry-related artifacts).
These artifacts were generally items long ago deposited in brick lined shafts (privies, and wells), root cellars, and or trash pits, or were materials broadcast onto backyard ground surfaces. These material remains relate to the life experience of the city's resident's from the 18th through the mid-20th century and reflect the development of a major urban and industrial city. These 'time capsules' of history were eventually (often times) impacted by construction of later 19the and 20th century development of the city, including development of the Mall at Independence.
In recent years it has become clear that Native American life experience in the area that become the city of Philadelphia can survive, in-situ, the ravages of city development. Indeed, a fantastic on-line exhibit about this at the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum's web page includes Native American archaeological remains discovered during the recent Mall re-development (at the site of the National Constitution Center). However, this means, in turn, that Native American material culture evidence from the shores of the Delaware River could also be part of the relocated Independence Mall construction debris now buried along the Susquehanna.
Lake siding ended here at the base of spectacular Chickies Rock, a sheer cliff whose base was beside the A&S. Lake got its name from Kerbaugh Lake which the contractor formed while having the A&S cut off part of the Susquehanna by running straight rather than following the curve of the hills as the Columbia Branch did. In the 1963 flood the Susquehanna cut through both ends of the fill turning part of the A&S into an island. After World War II the PRR filled the lake in and it is now part of a Lancaster county park.
Possibly helpful in pinning down the location for this 'possible site' is information found in an archived chat board thread about Pennsylvania railroad tunnels (Sat. Oct. 5, 2002, Webcircle.com):
....in an 1866 act incorporating Columbia Bourough the Pennsylvania General Assembly defined the Bourough's borders. In the definition section the Act refers to "Point Rock Tunnel." If you're familiar with the area now that seems like a strange name. However in the 1800s this was a very logical name. Originally the canal followed the base of the hills between Marietta and Columbia. Point Rock stuck out in the Susquehanna and the canal simply swung out around it. When workers build the railroad between the canal and the hills there was enough room to do so except at Point Rock. There they choose to drill a tunnel rather than cut through the hill.
When the PRR built the Low Grade it took a straight line between the base of Chiques Hill (near Marietta) and Point Rock. This formed Kerbaugh Lake, named after one of the contractors, to the east of the low grade.....After WW2 th PRR filled in Kerbaugh Lake and ultimately tied in the the Columbia Branch to the Low Grade at the Columbia Yar. The railroad then pulled the tracks out from the base of the hills and the tunnel. .........here is Point Rock Tunnel [Microsoft Research Maps]....If you scroll NW you'll see filled-in Kerbaugh Lake and the original railroad's alignment, which is now a service road....
A brief internet search also indicates that this potential site is possibly also somewhat protected (archaeologically-speaking as it is under the jurisdiction of a governmental agency--Chickies Rock County Park. The park's web page indicates that "A trail runs through the area of "Kerbaugh Lake", a reclaimed woodland and natural meadow between Chickies Hill and the river. The masthead image appears to depict the area in question (the lowland in the forefront of the picture, below the rock peak):
An Archival Coincidence!
When I reported Wednesday night's conversation to the Independence Park archivist it was karma! She picked up a piece of paper from her desk to show me that she is currently attempting to locate the documents related to the original mall construction. She told me she recently spoke to the archivist at the State Archives about whether the documents might be filed there. The project's records fell at the time under State jurisdiction as the Mall property was then managed by the Commonwealth.
This new information about a possible location for the Independence Mall development demolition fill-- material residues from within the park but no longer part of Independence Park--has now been documented in the archivist's Mall construction 'records search' file. This information will also be entered as a record in the INHP Archive's Archaeological Records Collection. This blog posting will in turn be forwarded to the sources named above, including the Lancaster County Department of Parks and Recreation and the State Archives. This 'might' also help if someday, in the far distant future, someone recovers 17th-19th century-dating artifacts at this spot on the banks of the Susquehanna River: The site wouldn't be misidentified as a settlement that once existed, and then vanished, circa 1950.
Relocated but Still Relevant
Assuming all this above is correct (and it would require more than the aforementioned quick and dirty internet search to verify), this newly discovered 'possible site' is interesting and important archaeologically as it remains potentially relevant for study at a 'gross level scale of analysis'. It is true that the 'fill' material remains would not be in their primary context (not in their original place of deposition and use) and therefore would not be useful for site specific level study. However, the materials would remain a viable information source for a study at a higher level of scale of 'research context': They can be useful for a study comparing, for example, a North American 18th and 19th century cultural expression with a similar dating cultural expression located elsewhere (e.g., Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom).
'Global historical archaeology' has included and postulated research at higher levels of scale of analysis comparing and contrasting material cultural residues not at the level of the site but at the level of, for example, global colonial frontiers. Occasionally these efforts have included trash dumps and or fill sites where the artifacts are not found in a 'primary use' context but rather as part of a secondary deposit.
Of course, as mentioned before -- a 'fill' dump is akin, in essence, to the tel sites excavated in the Near East and someday this lake fill could comprise a valuable site for examining the birth of the US and the modern industrializing world. (Assuming this oral history is as suggested.)
Lastly, it should be remembered that urban archaeology is not just archaeology 'in' the city but archaeology 'about the city' -- the material past of the urban environment including the processes of building and rebuilding and depositing and redepositing fills. Therefore, while the (possible) 'site' is close to 100 miles away from Philadelphia, the relocated debris fill would remain an urban archaeology artifact reflecting and related to mid-20th century American notions about the city, urban debris, debris removal, and 'wetlands reclamation' all enacted within a modern economic system supported by an integrated transportation network.
Read more about sliding levels of scale of analysis in historical archaeology...
Deetz, James (1991) Archaeological Evidence of Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Encounters. In Historical Archaeology in Global Perspectives, edited by Lisa Falk, pp. 1-9. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
This new Guide summarizes NPS requirements for Civic Engagement and public involvement in regards to archeology, referencing Director's Order #28A and the National Strategy for Federal Archeology both of which deal with, among many important concerns, facilitating use of archeological databases by managers and researchers, interpreting and sharing the results of archeological investigations, establishing programs of outreach as a regular agency function, and engaging the public in archeology through volunteer programs. (As mentioned before, this blog is generated by an NPS Volunteers in Parks (VIP) program participant).
Excitingly, the Guide draws upon Independence Park archeology outreach for one of its four case studies (the James Dexter Site). But more directly pertinent to the needs of this blog, it provides guidance for the implementation of NPS outreach via social media:
Social media provides the NPS with another way to promote outreach activities and create networks of interest groups. Opportunities include Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and YouTube, butother platforms are available. Social media is both outreach and a way to spread news and information quickly about archeological outreach projects to a broad constituency. Outreach through social media keeps the NPS in the public's mind. Uses for social media range from announcements about special events to cancellations or closings to reminders about things to do, to building communities of people with shared concerns for NPS resources.... (Emphasis added to reflect the orientation of this project.)
NPS Archeology Guide table of contents. Part 5 deals with public involvement and Part 7 with Social Media.
The Guide draws on the 2007 NPS Brief (#19), Archeological Collections and the Public: Using Resources for Public Benefit which has been relied upon to date in the development of this project. This Brief outlines some the benefits for the public of archaeological collections (including archeological records collections) as seen by the managers of collections repositories across the nation. The case studies referenced show not just "the many ways that curators find archaeological collections to benefit audiences with different interests and needs" but also states that "outreach benefits the repositories themselves by offering opportunities to demonstrate the significance of the holdings, reinforce the importance of proper management, provide a valuable public service, fulfill institutional goals of outreach and research, and most of all, activate the potential of archaeology to benefit the public".
Just as Social Media as a platform for archaeological outreach forms a rapidly evolving sphere, so the study of archaeological records collections is evolving. For instance, an international, interdisciplinary, research initiative was recently launched to study archaeology's past practice. It is called the Histories of Archaeology Research Network (HARN) and it aims to preserve and study the social context of archaeological practice so as to supplement the documentary materials that are created in the practice of archaeology and which are archived for posterity. This includes, for example, gathering oral history about how various thoughts and ideas put into practice emerged and were developed.
This blog project attempts to do something in this vein by drawing on 20th century history, the historiography of American History, the history of Independence Park and the National Park Service, and the history of urban archaeology to contextualize (make better sense of) the Independence Park archaeological records (see for example, the posting Oral History!). These past months spent helping process the Central Files has been critical to this aim. These documents contain information relevant to the archaeological developments in Independence Park but the information is often not otherwise noted in the Archaeological Records Collection.
*We hope to report on this Archeological Records Management project and this blog to the Archival science community next year --as our plan this year did not come to pass. As mentioned in the last posting, we are reporting to the archaeological community in January.
Monday, July 12, 2010
We will be taking part in a Society for Historical Archaeology conference symposium dedicated to collaborative outreach methods and techniques. We have titled our contribution "Blogging on An Archaeological Records Collection: Archive Outreach and Creating a User-Friendly Access Plan". Other outreach mediums that will be presented in the symposium include print publication, Film, the public lab, the archaeology classroom, Performance Art, mobile technologies, and 3D visualizations.
Here is what we proposed to talk about:
"Digging in the Archives" is an Internet blog associated with an archaeological records collection management project underway at the Archives in Independence National Historical Park. This archived documentation includes 50+ years worth of field notes, artifact logs, photographs, and site reports related to the research, preservation, and interpretation of historical archaeology sites. The Blog created for this project features interesting finds "excavated" from the files and presents musings about the Park's archaeological history and historiography. However, this blog contributes substantively in another way: The interactive nature of the Web 2.0 platform provides a productive working space where archaeologists, archivists, and the interested public can share ideas about how to make this collection more widely available and more useful to the user. This presentation will introduce the collection and demonstrate how this archaeological records-based blog is contributing toward the development of a more user-friendly Archives Access Plan. (Key Words: Blogging, Archives Collections Management, Collaboration)
Sure to be mentioned in the presentation will be an interesting document recently processed in the Archives that connects the blog project with the SHA conference. This document was written by the Archeologist John Cotter. The year was 1976, and Independence National Historical Park was a sponsor of the Society for Historical Archaeology meeting that was taking place in Philadelphia that year. The archived documentation also indicates that this conference of archaeologists who studied American History was the first event scheduled for the city on the official Bicentennial-year calendar. Cotter helped to bring the SHA conference to Philadelphia and then he brought the conference attendees to the Park to see its historical archaeology sites (the schedule of activities for that tour is also housed in the archives).
John Cotter was an National Park Service Regional Archeologist for many years and hundreds of papers, images, and other materials related to his work in Independence Park are stored in the Archaeological Records Collection in the Independence Park Archives. Cotter taught the first class in American Historical Archaeology ever taught in an American university (the University of Pennsylvania) and he was the first elected President of the Society for Historical Archaeology. Today, his contributions to the field are recognized by the Society for Historical Archaeology's John L. Cotter Award established in 1998, and in NPS by the John Cotter Excellence in National Park Service Archeology Award.
Dr. Cotter was a strong advocate of education and outreach in archaeology. I think that he would like the idea of this blog as a way to share archaeology information and as a way to engage with those interested in using archaeological information. He would likely be pleased as well that the blog is being presented on at the Society for Historical Archaeology's annual meeting.
The Society for Historical Archaeology
Witness to the Past: The Life and Works of John L. Cotter
Edited by Daniel G. Roberts and David G. Orr
Society for American Archaeology/Society for Historical Archaeology Press
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Processing the archived documentation in the Central Files today is bringing this information forward for the Park's current cultural resource management needs. This rediscovered archaeological documentation is now being indexed for cross-filing and or refiling as part of the archaeological documents collection.
One case in point is a 1957 report detailing a short exploratory archaeological excavation conducted in the basement of the John Wagner Building that once stood at 233 Dock Street. (Left image above). This early archaeological excavation involved testing at the bottom of the basement steps of the building after it was vacated, prior to its demolition as part of the making of the Park. In this space, the first Independence Visitors Center was built in 1976 (see the 2009 photo, above right, of the southeast wing of the building).
Thirty years later, after the new Visitors Center was built at 5th and Market, the old building came to serve as the Independence Living History Center housing the Public Archeology Lab and the Independence Park Institute's educational classrooms. Over the past five years, tens of thousands of people have visited the Lab to see how history is learned from the Park's archaeological artifacts.
Now this piece of land containing the old Visitors Center is being decommissioned from the National Park Service in a land-swap with the American Revolution Center. The early 1957 report is newly relevant because the Programmatic Agreement and Notice of Realty Action associated with this land transfer requires an archaeological study to assess the potential for cultural resources. The 1957 report was called upon in preparing this assessment. (See the cover image of the report above.) This early archaeological study took place on a property lot directly adjacent to the land now being swapped.
At the time of its creation in 1957, the archeological report concluded that little of significance was found and, given the mission of the Park and the interpretive themes of the day, this was true. Today, with the maturation of historical archaeology as a disciplinary study and the evolution of American History understanding in general, this report's minor findings have new importance. While information about notable personages was not forthcoming (an early research focus), there was evidence of a basement from a previously dating structure still found surviving two feet under the floor of the (later) 19th century, Wagner Building's basement. There was also information relevant to the course of Dock Creek and the artifact assemblage included numerous cow horn pieces indicative of the types of trades (slaughter houses, soap makers and tanners) known to have bordered the waterway during the early decades of the city.
This information was less important for the Park needs as they existed almost 40 years ago but these early findings today are useful for assessing what evidence might possibly survive the ravages of time as the property developed. Today we look back at this and other reports and see that it was clear from early on that 19th century cellars did not obliterate all earlier 18th century evidence. We also see evidence related to everyday life of 'We the People' at the time of the birth of the nation.
Importantly, we also have insight into how restricted in scope some early Park archaeological studies sometimes were. In the case of the Wagner Building excavation, the testing was done at the foot of the basement stairs where natural light remained available --because there was no longer any electricity in the building. This limitation is important to take into account today as archaeologists use earlier research findings to assess cultural resource sensitivity in park planning. Knowing what conditioned those 'peeks into the ground' is therefore critical.
Wagner & Sons:
First established in 1847, the specialty foods firm of John Wagner and Sons long operated at 233 Dock Street. They sold Cuban cigars, fine Spanish and French wines, and spices and tea from the East which came into the docks of Philadelphia and which the firm then often delivered to hinterland customers via pony express (Wagner Gourmet Foods, Inc. 1997).
In 1950, in preparation for building Independence Park, the National Park Service took photographs of the interior of the Wagner building prior to the buildings acquisition and demolition. These photos of the John Wagner & Sons salesroom and humidor are on file in the Independence Park Archive's Photographic Study Collection.
ExplorePAHistory.com provides details about the Wagner Museum in Ivyland, PA which is dedicated to the history of the John Wagner & Sons firm.
B. Bruce Powell
1957 Exploratory Excavation in the Basement of the John Wagner Building. On file, Independence Park Archives.
John Milner Associates, Inc.,
2010 Independence National Historical Park, Archeological Sensitivity Study (Phase I Archeological Assessment), Independence Living History Center, North Lot. (Soon to be likewise posted at the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum web page under 'local reports'.
Wagner Gourmet Foods, Inc.
1997 News Release, Wagner Gourmet Foods, Inc. Celebrates 150-year Anniversary. Prepared for 43rd Annual International Fancy Food and Confection Show, NY, NY.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
(Above) Photographs depicting members of the field crew that located Franklin's house ruins are glued into Schumacher's report (1956:8) entitled "Preliminary Exploration of Franklin Court Archeological Project No. 4, May-Sept. 1953.
Identifying these individuals has been a concern of mine since 2003, when I learned of their participation in the excavation during research conducted for the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Consortium (Jeppson 2005). The very first day of that project turned up eight black and white photographs (archaeological site record shots) glued into a preliminary site report written by Schumacher in 1956. These photographs revealed that the field crew who relocated the Franklin house ruins were African American -- something not commonly known today.
(Top) Schumacher's 1953 typed field notes, page 1. (Middle) The field notes for this date document that when APS funding ran out, the union workers were hired by NPS. (Bottom) Schumacher's field notes are presumably typed up from his handwritten draft after the fact, as attested to by this summary of hours on the last page of the notes.
Secondary research on the history of Franklin Court's discovery undertaken in 2005 provided some context for this labor history finding that the archaeological labor wage paid to Ransom and the others was $1 higher than the then current minimum wage (Jeppson 2007). (The National Average Wage Index for 1953 was $3140, the Median Wage Index for a family was $4100, and the minimum wage was .75 cents an hour.) Wage data for the period also reveals that Black households in the Northern states have two-times the income of those in the South (US Census Bureau Historical Income Table P-53 2004; Full time employee annual wage 1953). Union membership among Blacks in Philadelphia is presumably partly responsible for the higher Northern incomes.
So now the names of the co-rediscoverers of Franklin's mansion are known! The letter found this week in the Central Files was written May 19, 1953 and is from Schumacher to the Assistant Secretary of the American Philosophical Society (Schumacher 1956c). It summarizes the wages for the field crew -- and in doing so, identifies them by name!
INHP Archives materials referenced in this posting:
Schumacher, Paul J. F.
1953 a. Estimate for Excavation of Benjamin Franklin's Court [Archaeological Project No. 30, renumbered as "4"]. Schumacher, Acc. No. 59, Series 1: Reports, Box 10, Folders 1-3.
1953c. Letter (copy) to Julia Noonan (APS) May 19, 1953. Central Files, Box 34: Arch. Structures Franklin Court--Master Plan, 1953.
Other References cited...
Jeppson, Patrice L.
2007. Civil Religion and Civically Engaged Archaeology: Researching Benjamin Franklin and the Pragmatic Spirit. In B. Little and P. Schackel edited, Archaeology as a Tool of Civic Engagement. Pages 173-202. Lanham Maryland: Alta Mira Press.
2005. Historical Fact, Historical Memory: An Assessment of the Archaeology Evidence Related to Benjamin Franklin. Historical Archaeology research undertaken for the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Consortium. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On file: INHP.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Mosler Safe Company vault, post a detonation at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission’s Nevada Test site, ca, 1957. (Press Release photo filed with related correspondence, Central Files, INHP).
Recent discoveries in the Archives at Independence National Historical Park include evidence related to an important period in American history – the almost five decades of military tension and economic and political hostilities (later 1940s-early 1990s) waged between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. and their affiliated allies and satellite states that is known as 'the Cold War'. Among its many impacts, this period of history left an important cultural landscape in the United States, including, it appears, a possible Cold War archaeology component at Independence National Historical Park.
Letters, reports, and photographs in the Central Files record the government’s concern for protecting the nation’s cultural icons in the event of an atomic or nuclear bomb attack. These archived documents include calls for action as well as background studies generated for possible implementation. Anything made or modified within Independence Park in response to such measures that in turn left an archaeological trace might now comprise a cultural resource. Such archaeological evidence might also be relevant for evaluation for the National Register of Historic Places’ inventory of Cold War Resources, 1945-1989 . If so, this would mean that this archival project has identified possible new archaeological sites heretofore unknown (archaeologically) and now relevant ‘due to the passage of time’. At a minimum, this archives project has assisted the park in its archaeological management objectives.
Some brief background on Cold War Archaeology:
While a relatively new topic of focus within historical archaeology, this is a fascinating and active area of research. Teams of researchers have been recording a vast range of Cold War related sites, monuments, and installations. This work has been undertaken mostly in the US and the UK, but examples from other areas exist as well (for example, a Swedish-Cuban research project at a base in the Cuban countryside). The artifacts and cultural landscape modifications left from this recent past include monitoring posts, radar sites, missile testing grounds, airfields, communication networks, command bunkers, test ranges, space objects, as well as the protest camps created by those opposed to the era’s military developments. All these reflect an unprecedented spending on defense, a worldview characterized by fear (including the threat of nuclear annihilation)—and a range of responses designed to neutralize that fear.
In the US, much of this archaeology has been part of the Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program and the findings are the result of cultural inventory studies. In the UK this research has been primarily university-based academic research.
Independence Park and the Cold War
Among the materials related to this topic that are stored in the Independence Park Archives are the contents in the Central Files filed under Archeological and Historic Structures. Included are newspaper clippings, letters, proposals, and photographs – all cultural artifacts of the Park’s Cold War experience. Here below is one example -- a 1956 Philadelphia Inquirer article reporting that the Philadelphia Civil Defense Council’s Executive Director called for a vault to protect the Liberty Bell from an H-Bomb.
The files in the Archives reveal that various options for a vault were considered but not followed through on -- although a brief conversation with INHP historian Anne Coxie TooGood indicates that an initial effort was undertaken for at least one of these options. This information suggests that, at the very least, there could be some archaeological evidence in-situ, namely soil stains produced from bore corings that tested the ground down to 30 feet below the surface.The processing work that comprises this archival project identifies those materials needing conservation and other attention --such as the the fifty three year-old page above bearing a taped newspaper article, or the above photograph which has now been tagged for relocation to a photo storage area. The processing is also identifying archaeologically relevant materials not regularly catalogued as part of the archaeological records collection. In this case, the project has identified evidence related to the cultural landscape of the recent past, and identified information relevant to archaeology's contribution to understanding and preserving resources related to the Cold War.
Learn More about Cold War Archaeology:
Johnson, William Gray
2002. “Archaeological Examination of Cold War Architecture: A cultural response to the threat of nuclear war", in John Schofield, William Gray Johnson & Colleen M. Beck (eds), Matériel Culture. The Archaeology of Twentieth-Century Conflict, One World Archaeology 44, London & New York, pp. 227-235.
Space: The Final [Archaeological] Frontier. By P.J. Capelotti. Archaeology Magazine Volume 57 Number 6, Nov/Dec 2004
Schofield, John and Wayne Cocroft (ed.)
2007. A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse Legacies of the Cold War (One World Archaeology). University College London Institute of Archaeology Publications. Walnut Creek, USA, Berg; Left Coast Press, 336pp.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
At that time, APS undertook the excavation both as a memorial tribute to their founder (Franklin) on the 250th anniversary of his birth and as a research endeavor not unlike the expeditions APS sponsored, a half century earlier, that fostered Americanist Archaeology in its incipient period. NPS interest in the house site served the needs of the Master Plan for a national shrine to democracy (the soon to be Independence National Historical Park) which would include a park unit dedicated to local Philadelphia history and, in particular, to Franklin.
Franklin Court as the site became known (and interpreted) in Independence Park is a seminal urban archaeology site – and, until recently, the historical archaeology understandings that emerged in its early excavations have continued to shape the trajectory of Independence Park archaeology --and hence the understandings of early American history.
One of these very early dating assumptions about the Independence Park archaeological record has now been overturned. It involves the preservation of the archaeological evidence below ground in those areas with susequent building construction. The Independence Park Archive Archeological Records Collection reveals how this - an early understanding about the area's archaeological resource base --emerges and then transitions into a set principle determining the development and maintenance of archaeology in the park over time.
This past month I have been processing early archaeology-related administrative files in the Park Archives. In this collection I have come across what is likely the first time a recommendation is made regarding the state of the archaeological evidence buried below the city streets. It is a recommendation in a report detailing the results of the first episode of work at Franklin Court. It is written by Paul Schumacher, the archaeologist in charge of the 1953 and 1955 excavations at the site of Franklin’s mansion:
INHP Archive materials used in the preparation of this posting:
Jeppson, P.L. Historical Fact, Historical Memory: An Assessment of the Archaeology Evidence Related to Benjamin Franklin: Historical Archaeology research undertaken for the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Consortium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2005)
Letter, Anderson to INHP Regional Director, Region One (Cox or Lisle), Feb. 20, 1953, [D18 FRCW as quoted in Grieff 1985:374]
Philadelphia National Shrines Report to the United States Congress (1947)
Schumacher, Paul. Franklin Court, Preliminary Exploration of Franklin Court Archeology Project No. 4, May-Sept. (1956)
Fowler, Don D. and David R. Wilcox. Philadelphia and the Development of Americanist Archaeology. University of Alabama Press (2003)
Philadelphia Archaeological Forum. http://www.phillyarchaeology.org/
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
If accepted, the workshop will be presented at the 2010 Joint Meeting of the Council of State Archivists, National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and Society of American Archivists in Washington, DC.
My part of our contribution to the proposed workshop includes a presentation entitled, Blogging Toward an Archaeological Records Collection Guide: A Case Study on Using Web 2.0 Technology to Build a More User-Sensitive, Management-Enriched, Archival Tool. A summary statement provided to the session organizer follows below.
“Digging In the Archives” is an internet blog associated with an archival management project underway at Independence National Historical Park. This federal repository houses 50 years worth of field notes, maps, artifact logs, photographs, and reports generated during the development and continuing management of the national park. These record the development of ideas related to the preservation, presentation, and interpretation of both American history and American historical memory, and they document the evolution of urban and historical archaeology within the federal government and within the discipline of US anthropological archaeology more generally. This collection is routinely drawn upon for NPS needs (e.g., compliance measures, interpretation and education, cultural resources planning) and is accessed more widely by outside scholars and interested members of various publics (including historic preservation and material culture specialists). This blog extends access to this archived collection while the interactive nature of its Web 2.0 platform allows for a collaborative relationship between the Archives and its users. Input from diverse audiences is helping us to craft a Guide that will improve ease of the collection’s use while also assisting in the Archive’s continuing management.
Cross your fingers that the workshop is accepted for the conference. This would be an invaluable opportunity to learn new strategies from others working with archaeological records collections and we in turn could share what has been learned in processing the INDE Archeological Records collection and from this associated blog project.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The letter about my magic machine from San Francisco was probably from Paul J.F. Schumacher. He was referring to the electrolysis set up. I introduced it to INDE but it wasn't my idea. At Fort Fredericka NM Joel and I had a lab assistant named Bob Taylor. We had been cleaning iron artifacts by heating them in a pot-bellied stove, dunking them and pounding the crusts off, followed by brass and/or steel brushing. Then we would coat them oil to minimize rusting. After Joel left, I got down a copy of Plenderlieth's volume on museum object treatment. I saw a very complex arrangement of electrical equipment that Plenderlieth used for metal objects. Shaking my head I showed it to Bob. Bob was an island man, part of Cap'n Taylor's clan [deleted bio data] whose background was shrimpboating. After about 15 minutes he turned me and exclaimed "Hell, Cap'n, that ain't nothin but a gussied up batt'ry charger!". He also believed that sodium hydroxide was "plain ole lye." I got the stuff and we used a small aquarium tank to clamp the anodes to. It worked beautifully! I sent one of those [NPS] forms to credit Bob. I think Stan South was fielding those then. A downside-- I'm not sure I didn't uffer some detriment from the gas that the process gave off. [sic ;) ? ]
The Ultrasonic Cleaner was Bruce's [B.B. Powell] introduction. It was great for encrusted button and ceramics and other materials. It worked on small metallic objects too. We had to pare down our expectations for many metal objects though: the transducers sometimes broke! It's hard to recapture exact scenes so I don't remember how well we coped with continuing to use process. Maybe Bruce remembers.
NPS Archeologist Paul Schumacher, circa 1955 (top), NPS Archeologist B. Bruce Powell, circa middle 1960's (bottom).
On August 13th, Smokey added:
...My discussion of the ultrasonic device [in the last email communication excerpted above] was in terms of the circumstances that then prevailed. Our appliance was quite small; I would guess about 8"x11" at most. (Bruce may remember it differently). I haven't kept up those babies. I have seen the ones jewelers use to clean diamond rings, and my Braun 7800 electric razor's head cleaner is a mini ultrason. When I saw the illustration in your blog of the ultrasons used today, I realized that the puny tasks we required then would be pieces of cake. now.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The Archives at Independence Park have yielded yet another discovery related to the history of American archaeology! The Park’s buried cultural resources were used in the early testing of geophysical surveying methods for archaeological research!
These methods --which are a routine part of practice today – involve the use of non-invasive, non-destructive, physical sensing techniques that detect buried archaeological evidence. The resulting underground 'site imaging' is useful for mapping archaeological remains as they exist in the ground. These geophysical studies also guide archaeologists in planning their excavations. More recently, the resulting map images are employed in interpreting historical landscapes to the public.
Correspondence archived in the Park’s Central Files (Box 23, Folder H22: Archeology and Historical Research - Independence Square) indicates that in 1961, Dr. Elizabeth Ralph, then of the Physics Research Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, requested permission to conduct surface tests and demonstrations "with a proton magnetometer and other archaeological searching equipment” on Independence Square.
At the time, Ralph was researching the archaeological potential of geophysical methods then being used in the fields of geology, engineering, and mineral exploration. She experimented with electrical resistivity instruments that used wave projections to detect metals in the ground (metal detecting) and seismic detectors that employed wave propagation to find soil layer changes. She advanced archaeology's use of sonic detectors and magnetic contrast research, building upon nuclear science research that had led to the development in Europe of proton magnetometers and varian rubidium magnetometers. These instruments allowed for “archaeological prospecting” by measuring very small energy level changes in protons when they are subjected to magnetic charges. (Click on this circa 1965 image of Ralph to link to The Electronic Detective and the Missing City, an article written for Expedition [Winter 1965, 7(2):4-8], the magazine of the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Ralph went on to become Director of the Museum's Applied Science Center for Archaeology).
Today geophysical studies are commonplace in archaeology, including at historical archaeology sites in Independence Park. For example, ground-penetrating radar studies were undertaken in recent years at both Independence Square and the Deshler-Morris House property prior to restoration/renovation activities. Systematic collection of geophysical data for spatial studies has also included the use of other new technologies: In 2007, a geospatial laser survey was used to record the excavated ruins discovered at the President’s House site.
Once again, this finding aid project has uncovered ‘buried’ history about the role Independence Park archaeology has played in the development of American Archaeology.