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

Author(s): Kari L. 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 Yerba Buena Cove that have yielded an abundance of archaeological materials. This paper focuses on dinnerware pieces excavated from domestic privies dating to the 1870s that were originally utilized for meals aboard vessels of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. The paper examines the function of tableware during maritime expeditions as well its potential purpose once collected piecemeal by disembarked crewmembers 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—as some scholars have described—in a "world between worlds" that served as a liminal space "between origin and destination." 

Cite this Record

Tokens of Travel: Material Culture of Transoceanic Journeys in San Francisco. Kari L. Lentz. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 434194)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 581