Tokens of Travel: Material Culture of Transoceanic Journeys in San Francisco

Author(s): Kari Lentz

Year: 2015


During the second half of the nineteenth century thousands of travelers embarked on voyages aboard steamships headed for San Francisco that could last weeks or months. In the past decade, William Self Associates has conducted multiple excavations within the vicinity of the original coastline of Yerba Buena Cove that have yielded an abundance of artifacts. This paper focuses on dinnerware pieces employed for meals aboard vessels of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company that were recovered from domestic privies dating to the 1870s. The paper examines the function of tableware utilized during maritime expeditions as well their potential purpose once collected by disembarked crew members or passengers. This paper posits that these artifacts may have operated as keepsakes or mementos that reminded migrants of their time spent aboard a ship in a "world between worlds" (Maddocks 1982) that served as a liminal space "between origin and destination" (Wenzlhuemer and Offermann 2012).

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Cite this Record

Tokens of Travel: Material Culture of Transoceanic Journeys in San Francisco. Kari Lentz. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396840)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;