Brewing up the past

As I reflect on the research I have done for this project and what it means in my own life, I feel a closeness to the centuries past, that I am not quite sure I have felt before. When I taste my Hefe-Weizen clone of one of the oldest surviving wheat beer recipes, I can imagine that many were drinking something extremely similar in a Bavarian tavern 400 years ago. I can imagine them making the beer as well, perhaps with less overall knowledge of the chemistry going on, but nevertheless the same exact process.

Homebrewed clone of the Paulaner Hefe-Weizen recipe

Through chemical analysis of beer residue throughout history, we know that there were fermented grains being utilized for many thousands of years. However, what kinds of other ingredients, brewing processes and experimentation they had to do is still very much obscured. Through the texts and archaeological data I have looked at, I believe beer was very much perfected in the 15th and 16th centuries. They had found the very meticulous process (that is still being used today), they knew how fermentation worked and they knew a good beer consisted of grain, water and hops. It is very much thousands of years of experimentation that led to this modernization of beer. This beer I am drinking, the beer that was being drunk in Germany centuries ago and the beers that are going to be drank in the future are all due to the experimenters of the past, who were brave enough to venture out into the unknown. I believe it is our job to continue the legacy of those experimenters, by upholding the magnificent process they handed down to us and by continuing to exploring the boundaries of what is possible with this wonderful process we call fermentation.

(Mis)Representing History: Forced Removal of Japanese Civilians

Have you ever been to the Washington State Fair? If you have, you’d probably recognize the sights and smells– the roller coasters and grandstands, the food and the animals.

The Washington Fairgrounds are old, over 100 years old, as fairgrounds tend to be used again and again for many different uses. What may be shocking is that part of the Washington State Fairgrounds’ history includes a brief interlude in which it was used to “roundup” Japanese Americans during the Second World War.

The language surrounding Japanese incarceration has been purposefully misleading as it distorts and softens the real experiences.One glaring example is how, at the time of the executive order and forced removal, President Roosevelt can be quoted on over a dozen occasions referring to the camps as “concentration camps” (Herzig-Yoshinaga 2009), but when a plaque was being commissioned for the historic site at Manzanar, the majority of the commission board balked at the notion of calling Manzanar a concentration camp.

This type of revision severely impacts the interpretation of the detainment era and impedes on the ability to tell the stories of people who were impacted by the xenophobic policies of our government, similar to glossing over the history of local sites such as the Puyallup Fairgrounds.

By revising the terms used to describe the incarceration of Japanese civilians during this period and by shedding light on just how close to home this history is to Seattle and other major cities, this piece of excluded past can be integrated into a more holistic understanding of our region’s and our country’s history.

Composite image of Japanese inmates in 1942 and the modern Puyallup fairgrounds courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society.

 

The Rise of Male Dominance in Commercial Sex

The aim of my research is to discover if there’s a relationship between the rise of male dominance in commercial sex, and the independence of prostitutes, or the increased accounts of publications for profit from 1790 to 1920, with a focus on the mid-to-late 19th century.

As Catherine Holder Spude states in her 2005 article Brothels and Saloons: An Archaeology of Gender in the American West, historical archaeology has become an increasingly useful tool for elucidating gender studies. This allows a greater understanding of culture in today’s world in regards to social inequalities.

Some of the most interesting findings in my research include resources discussing the prostitutes who were murdered and the killer being let go. Such cases include the murder of Kate Townsend in 1883, which was published in the New York Times. This can be found in the link below.

Murder of Kate Townsend

Not only are their increased published accounts for profit regarding journalists and editors, but after further research, one finds published accounts advertising prostitutes and halls in which they resided.

What I have found not only includes increased publications for profit in relation to the rise of male dominance in commercial sex, but also publications for the brothel owners and prostitutes themselves.

-Stephanie H.

Jürgen Olofsson the Finn and the Log Cabin

For our final project for Historical Archaeology, I decided to go with a fictional account to help illustrate the historical and archaeological evidence for a group of people not know to much of the world: The Forest Finns. These people were a culturally unique group of people from Central Finland in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, who were famous for their lifestyle in and around dense forests. My fictional account follows the story of Jürgen Olofsson the Finn, who travels from his homeland to central Sweden, and ultimately to the new colony of New Sweden. There he partakes in building one of the most iconic symbols of settler America: the log cabin.

Forest Finns, painted by Eero Järnefelt,1893

The Forest Finns in colonial America in the 17th century were the first builders of what we know today as the modern log cabin. During my research to create my character and to better understand the history of these Finns, I soon learned that, when they were living in New Sweden, they would build the first log cabins, and would help spread the use of it to all of colonial America for generations to come. It is because of them that Abraham Lincoln would grow up in a log cabin, and why the log cabin is one of America’s icons.

17th century log cabin from New Sweden. provided by file:///G:/Historical%20archy%20proj/log%20houses.pdf

Doing this research has allowed me another view into the history of Scandinavian immigration and the lasting impacts of it today. The tiny cultural group that is the Forest Finns, has given me a new sense of knowledge and pride in that they have taught me the ways in which immigrants have lasting impacts upon places simply by living the daily lives that they have brought with them.

Meanings are not fixed

In my final project I used an object biography approach to understand how Chinookan sheep horn bowls can accumulate meanings through their lives. Procurement, production, use, and discard are the major periods in the objects’ ‘life’ (Kopytoff 1986). As horn bowls move through different periods in their lives, they have different uses and meanings to the people who interact with them. I examined ethnographic sources, letters, websites, and transcribed an interview to understand how meanings are not fixed. I particularly enjoyed learning more about how horn bowls are used in contemporary museum contexts (afterlife).

Horn bowls are used for education for the general public and as research tools for Native artists. I found it very interesting how Native material culture in the 21st century is now referred to as ‘art’.  Although ‘art’ is a better word to describe the skill and practice of Chinookan cultural patrimony, than ‘specimen’, a term used from the 19th century, it does not fully encapsulate the traditions and practices that are embedded in the lives of the bowls.

In my paper I argue that learning about the life history of objects like the Chinookan horn bowls and incorporating Native voices into museums, we can acknowledge our present entanglements with the past and provide new meanings and paths toward healing to create a ‘living record’ (Lonetree 2012).

Click here for an interesting article about the Portland Art Museum and the issues that arise when displaying Native American art and culture.

 

The Patent Medicine Era in America

Hechtlinger, Adelaide
1974 The Great Patent Medicine Era: Or, Without Benefit of Doctor. New York: Galahad Books. Pg. 218.
University of Washington Libraries.

My final project for historical archaeology explored the complex history of the patent medicine era in America. Prompted by an interest in embossed medicine bottles studied in this class and my museum curation course at the Burke Museum, this subject was far more extensive than I ever imagined. In my paper, I focused on the social and industrial components that created a climate of self-diagnosis and self-medication, which reached its zenith during the Victorian period.

I argued that one of the most important and pivotal of these topics was the boom in advertising during the 19th century. For me, the most fascinating advertising strategies of the patent medicine industry were directed at women. In my opinion, it was nearly unprecedented at the time to

Hechtlinger, Adelaide
1974 The Great Patent Medicine Era: Or, Without Benefit of Doctor. New York: Galahad Books. Pg. 73. University of Washington Libraries

find such direct consumerism targeted at a demographic that were socially and politically oppressed like Victorian women. Doctoring manuals for women doubled as both advertisements and how-to guides to take care of one’s family.  These publications put women in the position of “the family doctor,” but at the same time would reiterate the weakness and frailty of “the female patients” (Apple 1990:322). In addition, advertisements would intertwine the ideas of female morality and health. Precautions regarding the “evils of insufficient clothing” imparted how women’s fashion, by exposing parts of the body, could lead to disease and death by consumption (Hechtlinger 1970:95).

 

I found the duality of the advertising tactics towards women as confusing, frustrating, and captivating all at the same time. My modern feminist perspective makes it difficult to glean many positive aspects from some condescending advertisements.

Hechtlinger, Adelaide
1974 The Great Patent Medicine Era: Or, Without Benefit of Doctor. New York: Galahad Books. Pg. 70. University of Washington Libraries.

However, with oppressive social directives separating Victorian women from medical professionals, it could be said that the patent medicine industry was giving women some power over their own bodies. That was definitely not an angle I expected to discover while researching patent medicines and snake oils. It was an extremely interesting topic and one I would continue to research further.

References Cited:

Apple, Rima D. 1990 Women, Health, and Medicine in America : A Historical Handbook. Garland Reference Library of Social Science ; v. 483. New York: Garland Pub.

Hechtlinger, Adelaide 1974 The Great Patent Medicine Era: Or, Without Benefit of Doctor. New York: Galahad Books.

Indigenismo, Education, and Indigenous Women

My final project for this class is related to my research that I am doing independently. For the sake of the class, I decided to focus more on how indigenistas (promoters of a political ideology known as indigenismo in post-revolutionary Mexico) were using archaeology to promote nationalism, push for certain education reforms and reshape Mexican history.

With this research project, I became easily sidetracked from education to eugenics when learning about indigenismo. It is a fascinating topic that I am excited to learn about. This class gave me an excuse to look deeper into archaeology and anthropology instead of just knowing the basic information of Manuel Gamio (the father of Mexican anthropology) being an active indigenista. Learning more about the role of anthropology in shaping indigenismo and social reform programs led me to understand the incredible impact this discipline had on the ideology.

Which was perfect. In a Spanish secondary source, I came across the first woman indigenista, a feminist mestiza named Elena Landázuri. She not only helped Gamio in excavating archaeological sites, but also helped established misiones permanentes. Many people saw feminists as a threat to national identity, including Gamio who addressed it in his patriotic essay Forjando Patria. I look forward to learning more about this character and how her feminist views as a mestiza affected the policies made for indigenous women during my trip to Mexico City.

To follow my research before presenting this May, you can visit my blog at DaisysFindings.

Needlework as a Reflection of Changing Ideologies in the Era of Industrialization

One thing is for sure about this quarter in historical archaeology, I have learned a lot about how to keep a critical eye.

For my final project, I wanted to do some research about the evolution of knitting, as I am an avid knitter. Originally, I wanted to write an object biography about the way that knitting has changed, but it’s history is too long and consistent to show the change I wanted to.

After looking at the strong sources I was able to find, I realized that they all hovered around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. They described issues of the distribution of labor, gender, and race, however, I noticed a glaring problem in the current research. Many sources included issues of labor and gender, or gender and race, or race and labor, but I could not find any sources that discussed all three.

I struggled with this for a long time. I knew it would propel my argument if I could find any studies or analyses that used that intersectional mindset. After hours of banging my head against the laptop, a sudden light shone down from the heavens. I realized that my research paper, my analysis, IS the juxtaposition that I’d been looking for.

In the end, my critical eye turned into a reflective lens, and I am thankful that I now have the tools to use both.

George Washington, Slavery, and Contemporary America

When I began this project, my only intention was to document the archaeological survey taking place at the slave cemetery at Mount Vernon. It sounded interesting, so I had planned on discussing their goals and methods, and the progress that had been made since the project began. Almost as soon as I started my research, though, I realized that my questions were really shallow and did not address the reasons why the project needed to be done in the first place.

I knew that George Washington owned captive people, but I was unaware of the magnitude of that choice. Of course, George Washington did not invent American slavery, but his active participation in it has had lasting consequences for this country and the way that we perceive race. As I dug deeper it became easier to see connections between slavery and racial inequalities throughout every time period in American history,  and I realized that this was the story that needed to be told. I still talk about the archaeological survey in terms of restorative justice and moving forward, but it became a much smaller part of my project than I had originally intended it to be.

Most of the dialog from the video is taken directly from my research paper. My biggest struggle was condensing it down into a reasonable amount of time while still getting my point across. I wanted to include a lot more, and it could have easily been twice as long, but I understand the value of conciseness.  I would encourage anyone who watches my video or is interested in learning more about the topic to take a look at my research paper, George Washington, Slavery, and Contemporary America. It provides a lot more context and detail, as well as a full bibliography that pertains to both my paper and my video.

Thanks for watching!

-TO

Seneca Village, Remembered

For my final project, I wrote a historical narrative about Seneca Village, a free Black community in New York City that existed during the antebellum period. Founded when slavery was abolished in New York state in 1827, Seneca Village became a thriving center of Black political activism and resistance.  Community members sought to qualify for voting rights through the acquisition of land, which was a requirement in New York State at the time, and Seneca Village was home to the largest enclave of Black voters in the state. Unfortunately, during the mid-1850s, white New Yorkers were interested in creating a grand park in their city and the area surrounding and including Seneca Village was slated as a viable option for its development. After a long battle with city government, the residents of Seneca Village were forcibly evicted and Central Park was constructed, largely erasing the site and the memory of Seneca Village as the community scattered.

Detail from Egbert Viele’s 1856 topographical survey of the area to become Central Park, which includes Seneca Village. The horizontal street is today’s Central Park West (then 8th Ave). [Source: The Junto, https://earlyamericanists.com/2014/07/28/seneca-village-memory-the-problem-of-forgetting/]

Despite having visited New York and Central Park on numerous occasions, I had never heard of Seneca Village until I went in search of a topic for this project. It was precisely for this reason that I felt compelled to write this narrative – the stories of antebellum Blacks in the North are not well known.

How I picture my fictional character, Sarah Walker. [Source: Beinecke Library, Yale University, Call #: Uncat JWJ MS 59]

Although I had many resources to draw upon, I found it very difficult to write this story. As a white woman living in the 21st century, I have few obvious commonalities with my fictional character, Sarah Walker, and I struggled to imagine what it would be like to be her and to live through the events of the mid-19th century as a Black woman. I found some inspiration in Alice Walker’s short stories, In Love & Trouble, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, but I still wondered if it was right for me to be writing Sarah’s story. Ultimately, the narrative that unfolded became a way for me to practice listening to and amplifying others’ voices because, although they are my words on the page, they are drawn from all I have read and all I have heard about Seneca Village and the Black community that lived there. It is my hope that Sarah’s story can contribute to the remembrance of this place and this community so that it may not be neglected again.

If you would like to learn more about Seneca Village, please visit the Seneca Village Project website.

Click here to read my narrative. I apologize for the strange formatting on Google Docs, it did not translate well from my Word document.