Association Buildings-The Archaeology of Mutual Assistance

The enclaves established by Chinese immigrants within the Anglo-American cities of the United States reflected both the exclusionary pressures they faced and the degree of gender homogeneity of the community. The itinerant nature of employment options available to these individuals and the fact that most of them originally intended to stay in this country only temporarily precluded the establishment of long-term residential households.  A community of transient occupancy developed. The structures occupied in these Chinatowns were rented to Chinese merchants, generally by white property owners, then appropriated and reconfigured to meet the merchandizing and housing needs of this population. For the most part the ground floors of these buildings were occupied by business spaces and the upper levels were dedicated to housing the densely packed resident population.

A network district associations, organized according to its member’s area of origin within China, formed a locus for social, economic and essentially governmental functions, and as such, were an integral part of the community structure. Many of the buildings the associations occupied provided room and board for members in communally organized tenements. These were generally located on the middle floors of buildings while offices and meeting spaces of the associations were situated on the top floor or portions of it. The prominence of these organizations can still be seen displayed in the exterior adornments of many of the multi story structures found within these historic district (Yip 1995). A highly decorative balcony attached to the façade of the buildings to announce the presence of an association within.

Hip Wah Hing -maybe_compressed          Gee How Oak Tin Family Assoc_compressed            Bing Kung Assoc._compressed

Hip Wah Hing Building        Gee How Oak Tin Family Association       Bing Kung Building                                         Photos of Association Style Buildings in Seattle, WA by R. Crowley

It is important to keep in mind the fact that these communities, known as “Chinatowns”, were primarily “bachelor” males sharing largely communal facilities. Because of this, the residence networks that evolve were very different from the household norms of the greater Anglo-American culture. This unique settlement pattern must be considered for archaeologists to fully comprehend the material remains of these neighborhoods (Voss and Allen 2008). These analyses represent a community archaeology more than a household archaeology.

Chin_Gee_Hee with LOT_compressed                            Canton Building_ca 1907_compressed

Chin Gee Hee Building                   Site is to the left of this now demolished building

      photo by R. Crowley                                  photo ca 1907(UW Special Collection)

I have identified a potential site locally during the course of my investigation into this issue. Adjacent to what is perhaps the oldest remaining association style structure in Seattle, the Chin Gee Hee Building at 2nd Avenue South and South Washington Street, there is a parking lot that has sealed three lots of the city’s earliest Chinatown. These lots are at the center of one of the first Chinese owned business centers in the city. Construction there dates to the later part of the nineteenth century.

Voss, Barbara L. and Rebecca Allen, 2008

Between the Household and the World System: Social Collectivity and Community Agency in Overseas Chinese Archaeology. Theme issue, “The Archaeology of Chinese Immigrant and Chinese American Communities,” Historical Archaeology 42(3):37-52.

Yip, Christopher L., 1995

Association, Residence, and Shop: An Appropriation of Commercial Blocks in North   American Chinatowns. Theme issue, “Gender, Class, and Shelter,” Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture 5. Elizabeth Collins Cromley and Carter L. Hudgins ed. Pp109- 117. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press.

Horseradish Came First at Heinz

This bottle is embossed with H.J. Heinz Co. on one side and Pittsbough, PA. on the other. Although Henry John Heinz had started marketing bottled horseradish as early as 1869 it was not until 1888 that his business assumed the name H.J. Heinz Company. The object that is in the collection has a rectangular base with chamfered (cut off) corners. This is a machine made bottle exhibiting a distinct value mark on the base. Within the use category of “food” “horseradish style” forms a sub category of bottle referred to as “bottle type” in the Parks Canada nomenclature. This style bottle may show a variety of base shapes. A patent finish is often present as on object 45K1765/M-42.

M-42_1_whole_compr                        M-42_2_embossing_compr

The dating on this particular example of the bottle type can be concisely bracketed between 1888 and 1909. It was in 1909 that the Heinz Co. began using square based bottles for its products. In the case of this horseradish style bottle the embossing makes all the difference when it comes to dating. Given that the bottle is embossed with the company name H.J Heinz we know that it was produced after 1888. As can be seen from old catalogs of Illinois Glass Company, bottles of this type continued to be manufactured beyond 1926.

Heinz-evaporated relish       Heinz 57 horseradish

On the left is an early bottle of Heinz’s horseradish. The bottle on the right is from sometime after 1892, when the H.J. Heinz Co. inaugurated its “57 Varieties” slogan.

 Illinois Glass horseradish bottles-page132

Page from the Illinois Glass Company’s 1926 catalog.

Gendered Death Frequency At Calvary Cemetery

McGough family 1

As the final analysis of  the data our team gathered at Calvary Cemetery I plotted the death frequency against bins of five year intervals. Here I created a bar graph displaying the relationship between male and female interments over time.  Although our sample size is quite small there is one spike in the data that stands out markedly. The interval between 1900 and 1910 produced seven male burials relative to a total absence of female grave. I would venture the guess that this predominance of male burials may actually reflect an unevenly gendered population. U.S. Census data shows that in 1900 Washington state had 142.2 male to every 100 female residents.

There are also two other five year periods were male graves outnumber the females’. This is from 1940 to 1949 and from 1950 to 1954. Both of these time frames cover the times of the second World War and the Korean Conflict respectively. Further analysis of a larger data set if definitely suggested in order to test the hypothesis that national involvement in military conflict might be exhibited by a gender differentiated analysis of death frequencies as observed in cemeteries.

 Death Frequencies Graph


The Evolution of the Seattle Public Library Site

01 Full View-compressed

    The block which is now occupied by the Seattle’s Central Public Library is bounded by 4th and 5th avenues and Spring and Madison streets. This parcel of land has gone through many changes since it first become a part of the City of Seattle. Originally the area around this block was part of the claims of C. D. Boren, A. A. Denny H. L. Yesler. In 1875 this area, from what is now Yesler Way to Seneca Street between 1st Avenue and 10th Avenue, was added to the then Town of Seattle. On the plat map for this Addition the block I am investigating (No. 19) was laid out as a “Public Square”.

02_Library Block-compressed

            The noble dream of that Public Square apparently did not last very long. The Sandborn fire insurance map of 1883 shows a number of private structures occupying the block less than a decade later. The most substantial of these buildings was the mansion of Seattle attorney James McNaught. By the time the Seattle Public Library was seeking a site to construct the new Carnegie funded library in 1902 this grand house had already evolved. First it had been used as the first home of the Rainier Club and when the city purchased the entire block for $100,000 it was a boarding house.

Sanborn 1893-compressed      Carnagie_Madison_McNaughty Mansion&Providence Hosp_1891

            Our first Public Library on this site was a massive building in the Beaux-Arts style designed by Chicago architect Peter J. Weber. It was dedicated on December 19, 1906. The construction and furnishing of the library was paid for with a grant of $220,000 from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The negotiations that lead to this sizable sum produced the largest grant made by Carnegie to any city except Washington D.C. and his hometown of Pittsburgh up until that time.


            Although in its day the Carnegie Library of Seattle’s 55,000 square feet of floor space was impressive by the early 1950s it had become seriously out of date and overcrowded. The voters of Seattle approved a bond issue to construct a replacement building in 1956. This second generation of the Central Library was designed by Leonard Bindon and John L. Wright and provided 206,000 square feet to house the ever expanding collections and facilities of the Seattle Public Library.

2nd Building_-4th&Madison-june-1-1960-goweyweb1

            Moving the Seattle Public Library into the 21st century voters approved a bond measure to renovate the system that included funding to replace the downtown library building. The current incarnation on the site of Block No. 19 of the 1875 Addition to the Town of Seattle is a gleaming 11-floor creation of steel and glass designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas that sports 362,987 square feet of space. This structure is truly a statement of digital age modernity; a long way evolutionarily from the McNaught Mansion that made room for it a century ago.

3rd Building_4th&Madison_2004



Bagley, Clarence B. 1916, History of Seattle: From the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. The SJ Clarke Publishing Co.: Chicago.

The Free Online Encyclopedia of WashingtonState History. Accessed April 26, 2014,

Hacket,Rigina, May 19, 2004 Seattle Public Library: Design is fun on a grand scale.  Accessed April 26, 2014,

Plat of an Addition to the City of Seattle, Recorded March 18, 1875, University of Washington Special Collections, Map Folios, Block No. 19.

Sandborn Map Co. 1884, Seattle Washington WT. Sandborn Map & Publishing Co.: New York.

Sandborn Map Co. 1893, Insurance Maps SeattleWashington 1904 Vol. 1. Sandborn Perris Map Co.: New York.

Sandborn Map Co. 1904, Insurance Maps SeattleWashington 1904 Vol. 1. Sandborn Map Co.: New York.

Seattle Public Library, Brief History of the Seattle Public Library. Accessed April 25, 2014,

Seattle Public Library, Special Collections Online, Accessed April 25, 2014,

Sherrard, J. R. Seattle Now and Then: The Palace Hip Theater. Accessed April 26, 2014,

Talking Trash

Just as Wall-E was programmed to examine the refuse of a futuristic contaminated and uninhabitable Earth, modern archaeologists study material remains of our current society (garbage) to understand what we consume and dispose of. This study is called Garbology.

Our Historical Archaeology class recently engaged in a Garbology investigation on the campus of the University of Washington. Our goal was to gain an understanding of how to derive narratives regarding behavior patterns of the campus population by looking at their trash. Quite simply, we collected the contents of two campus garbage cans, rooted around in it (with gloved hands) and sorted it into various categories.

The selected bins were the unsorted type in locations not close to stations where a sorting option is available, but in high traffic areas near the entrances of Thomsom Hall and the Burke Museum. These collection sites were selected because they are used by somewhat different populations. The Thomson Hall site in the heart of the campus, is likely used by students, faculty and staff. The Burke location is more available to the general public, located near the parking area for charter busses bringing museum tour groups.

As expected, food and beverage containers and wrappers predominated at both sites. The Burke Museum garbage was notable in that a large percentage of the food consumed in this area apparently was brought on site in bag lunches. In fact, two distinct assemblages were evident. One represented numerous Dicks fast food meals with associated beverage and condiment cups. The second assemblage mostly comprised the remains of sack lunches brought in Ziploc bags with Capri-sun pouches, fruit and snack bars, possibly by school children on a tour. The collection from the Thomson Hall site indicated foods consumed on the go and more piecemeal, as expected. We also found cigarette butts, a spent lighter and a hard cider bottle in this sample.

This finding of campus contraband was not completely unexpected. One reason I selected this bin was its proximity to Greig Garden, a semi-secluded grove enclosed behind high vegetation. Sampling strategy design is a critical factor in any analysis.

Rogers Archaeology Lab

Well OK I may be biased. Yes my name is Roger, but this is not MY blog. In fact it is out of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. The archaeology lab referred to is that of Dr. J. Daniel Rogers who is the museum’s Curator of Archaeology. He also teaches museum studies and anthropology at The George Washington University. The posts are for the most part authored by Dr. Rogers and researchers and students working with him on various collections and projects. The site is well archived and indexed allowing readers to easily focus upon categories of interest and value. My guess is that much of the audience of this blog are associated with the Smithsonian as members or researches. Conveniently the site provides taps to the Institution’s home and collections websites.

CoDA Blog

One of the first posts I noticed on this blog was titled “Tip – WordPress for Dummies Part 1: Introducing the Dashboard”. How timely! This is the first of a series of video based tutorials by Ruth Tringham, creative director of CoDA at the University of California, Berkeley. Further cruising the site I found a landing page for posts related to the Spanish Microfilm Project which is working on digitalizing documents of the Spanish colonial period. This blog represents the work of archaeologists on the cutting edge of the application of digital technology within the field. This is a valuable educational resource for the dissemination these technologies.

Who is Roger Crowley ?

Bio Photo

Roger Crowley is a senior at the University of Washington where he is completing a BA in Archaeological Sciences which he began in 1971. Roger returned to the UW in 2013 following retirement from a 35-year career as a long-haul train porter with AMTRAK. He also served his AMTRAK colleagues as an elected officer in their labor union at both the local and national levels. Roger’s prior studies in archaeology include participation in a field school in the Skagit delta directed by Astrida Onat in 1973 and studies abroad in West Mexico under Betty Bell. After graduation he plans to continue working with the archaeology collection at the Burke Museum as a volunteer and engage in part time employment with local CRM firms.