About the Project!

Welcome to the Issei at Barneston Project! Here’s a quick blurb on what we are about. I will be posting more information as we get closer to our field season!

This project, which comprises my dissertation project for the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington, seeks to reconstruct the daily lives and struggles of early 20th century first-generation Japanese American (Issei) sawmill workers at the company town of Barneston, Washington (1898-1924). Arriving at America’s shores in search of social and economic opportunity, the Issei found themselves confronting not only a new and unfamiliar social environment, but one heavily structured by a system of racial hierarchy which relegated the Issei to a position of subordinate status and social and civil alienation. Drawing on archaeological evidence, archival material, oral testimonies, and secondary literature from history, sociology, and Japanese American studies, my project seeks to understand both the ways in which these social forces impacted sawmill town Issei’s day-to-day activities and choices, and the strategies they used to survive and endure in response.

The project is anticipated to run over two field seasons, Summer 2016 and Summer 2017. The goal in Season 1 is to (1) ground truth maps recovered through archival research, and (2) identify and test areas of Barneston that have high potential for in-tact archaeological deposits related to daily life within Issei households and the bathhouse. We will also (time permitting) survey non-Issei areas, such as the Euro-American worker barracks and mill pond, both for comparative purposes and for the sake of thoroughness. We will make use of multiple different and complementary field methods, including topographic survey, metal detection and geophysical survey, and limited subsurface investigation. Through these techniques, we hope to evaluate the integrity of the site and the quality of archival maps while minimizing our impact on the archaeological record.

Season 2 will take place in Summer 2017, and will focus on excavating areas identified in Season 1 as having a high probability of archaeological deposits. More details on that will become available as we approach that field season!