A Different Angle of View: Doing Contemporary Historical Archaeology from the West

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  • Documents (6)

  • Archaeology of Chinese Woodchoppers and the Forests of the Lake Tahoe Basin: Exploring the Intersections of Extractive Industries, Transportation, and Labor (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kelly Dixon. Carrie E. Smith.

    During the late 1860s and early 1870s, Chinese "woodchoppers" lived and worked in the vast forests of the South Lake Tahoe Basin in the eastern Sierra Nevada, near Genoa, Nevada, leaving distinctive archaeological signatures wherever they worked and lived. The laborers in these isolated camps supplied Nevada’s Comstock mines with forest products, as the Comstock had already depleted its own local sources of lumber, approximately 30 miles away. This relatively well-preserved local cultural...

  • Material Culture And The Archaeology of Western Identities (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mark Warner.

    While the popular perception of the American west is one of material hardship and deprivation, the reality of life in the west was frequently quite different.  Excavations at several locations in Idaho have indentified a material world where people were enthusiastically striving for Victorian ideals of gentility. In one sense this is to be expected as aspirational consumption in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was clearly an integral part of American society as a whole.  However,...

  • The Road From Big Rock Candy Mountain: Boomsurfer Strategies in the American West (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Margaret Purser.

    People living across the broader West struggled for over a century to deal with both economic and ecological instability and unpredictability.  Developing industrial capitalism fluctuated radically in this period, especially in a region where its large-scale extractive industries voraciously exploited environments that were often already fragile and marginal for large-scale settlement.  For at least some sector of the population, responses to these challenges tended to emphasize stability and...

  • Roadside America in the West: History along the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Minette Church.

    The highways and byways of the Colorado/New Mexico borderlands are dotted with publicly funded roadside interpretive signs providing a short history of the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail. The goal of these signs is commemoration and education of the traveling public, yet the facts are questionable and nuances are flattened. Must accuracy be sacrificed to achieve brevity and accessibility? The time has come to challenge the roadside nationalist narrative in favor of one that people who...

  • Transient Labor and the North American West (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mark Walker.

    The organization of labor is a defining element of society.  In the case of the North American West this defining element is often marked by a reliance on seasonal and transient rural labor. In this paper I briefly characterize the transient workforce, discuss its archaeological signatures, and how we might incorporate these marginalized histories into our work. For all its historical importance, rural labor is not an easy topic of study, for reasons ranging from the structures and practices of...

  • "Where Ornament and Function are so Agreeably Combined" Redux: A New Look at Consumer Choice Studies Using English Ceramic Wares at Several 19th Century Fur Trade Sites Along the Columbia River (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert J Cromwell.

    This paper takes a new look at my 2006  doctoral dissertation, where I analyzed over 20,000 British-manufactured ceramic ware sherds excavated from archaeological households at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Vancouver, Washington. These archaeological households are located both within the ca. 1829-1860Hudson’s Bay Company Fort Vancouver palisade site, as well as in the associated employee (Kanaka) Village site. This allows for synthesis of the data and to compare household dynamics from...