Wrapping Up

Lynsie cataloging artifacts from 85-31.

It’s hard to believe, but we are already approaching the end of the Winter Quarter, and the completion of this course! The students are busy putting the finishing touches on their projects, and gave preliminary research presentations on Thursday in class. Soon these projects will be posted on this website, so please check back next week to read them! In our final week, students are continuing to catalog artifacts, as Lynsie is doing in this picture. The students in this class have really made a great amount of progress in cataloging the Market Street Chinatown collection. This was very clear as we reviewed the database entries to double check the consistency and completeness of the entries students made in the database – there were a lot to go through!

Form View of the Catalog Database.

Pictured here is a single form from the database. It cannot be read because the image is so small here, but this form records pertinent information about artifact 85-31/33-108, a small ceramic fragment. The database can be viewed either as a form, showing information about one artifact at a time, or as a spreadsheet summarizing information about all artifacts on a single page. The production of this database is oriented to achieving two goals. The first is a detailed, easily usable catalog of the artifacts, useful for inventory control and for gaining an overall picture of what the collection contains. The second is research-oriented: this database is searchable, and the searches that can be made are very flexible in nature. After students finished recording information about artifacts, they entered this information directly into the database. This information will allow this collection to be used as a resource for study and research, and will allow quite focused questions to be asked about the collection. We hope that this database will make data about this collection more widely available and also more easily used. Additionally, we hope that the data from this collection can be used not simply to count the number of plates in the collection, but to build a better understanding of the lives that were lived at the Market Street Chinatown.

Artifact of the Week

From left to right: cat# 85-31/18B-244, wooden game piece; cat# 85-31/24-162, hair comb; cat# 85-31/18B-302 and –303, eyeglass frames and lenses.

Many of the artifacts in the Market Street Chinatown collection evoke a feeling of connection with the individuals who lived there. This is particularly true of some of the “small finds” that were recovered from the site. The artifact on the left is a wooden game tile that was probably used to play mahjong. It’s surprisingly well preserved after being buried for nearly one hundred years! The middle artifact is a decorative hair comb. On the right are two eyeglass frame fragments with the lenses still intact. The white clouding in the otherwise clear lenses is a patina, the result of chemical changes in the glass lenses that occurred while they were buried. When I handle these artifacts, I find myself thinking about the people who used and wore them – and I wonder what they would have thought if they could have known that we would be so closely studying the broken bits of things they threw away.

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