It’s been quite a bit of time since I’ve (Dr. Camp) blogged, mainly due to seeking funding to develop what is now known as http://www.internmentarchaeology.org. http://www.internmentarchaeology.org has become our data warehouse for the Kooskia Internment Camp Archaeological Project, one of the few of its kind and the only known public-facing database for the archaeology of WWII internment and incarceration. We continue to dump data into its artifact database, and are working on a finding aid that will help researchers discover interesting and important finds associated with the Kooskia Internment Camp.
We are very thankful for funding from the Idaho Humanities Council and, more recently, from the University of Idaho’s Office of Research and Economic Development and the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences’ TRIP grant, to make this database happen. Data is being added into the database daily, so make sure to keep checking back and seeing our new finds.
Beyond adding data to our database and supervising that process, I am working on cataloging and identifying the last of the data from the 2013 field season. We have found a number of fascinating finds, including a Japanese manufactured toothbrush, a sales tax token, and another Wakamoto Pharmaceutical Company, Limited bottle made of aqua glass. We are looking forward to sharing these finds in the coming year.
An Aqua Glass Bottle Fragment made by Wakamoto Pharmaceutical Company, which contained a gastrointestinal supplement.
A Japanese manufactured toothbrush found at the Kooskia Internment Camp.
My name is Kristen Tiede and I’m an intern in Dr. Camp’s lab. I supervise our volunteers, Kaitlyn Hosken and Avril MacNaughton. Visitors to the lab can view the many steps of archaeological lab work. Avril is hard at work cleaning and sorting the artifacts from the 2013 field school. She washes glass and ceramic and dry brushes metal artifacts before sorting them by material. She gets the first look at the artifacts before readying them for the cataloging process. She often finds small artifacts, like buttons, bits of fabric or leather, pencil stubs, and a sewing machine bobbin. Kaitlyn and I have been busy cataloging artifacts from the 2010 field school. We fill out a catalog form for each artifact, assigning it a unique catalog number. After we bag them, we place the smaller artifact bags in larger bags before putting them in plastic storage boxes. Eventually, the artifacts will be accessioned and curated. We still have quite a few artifacts to clean and catalog but slowly and steadily we are getting the job done.
A tray of glass waiting for Avril.
Avril’s work station.
A tray of cleaned artifacts waiting to be cataloged.A bottle base and heel with an applied color label.
Greetings everyone! This year’s field season has been one of great excitement and discoveries. We had an excellent field crew, and stayed at a very welcoming place (Three Rivers Resort in Lowell, ID). It was sad to end the field season last week, but we are very thankful for the company of Three Rivers Resort and the hospitality of Lowell and Kooskia residents.
This year we finished an extensive surface survey of a trash midden associated with the Kooskia Internment Camp as well as Canyon Creek Federal Prison. We thought we had done a fairly good job canvassing the site on our hands and knees (what is called a “crawl survey” rather than a “pedestrian survey”) back in 2010, but we quickly discovered that there was still a lot remaining on the surface of the midden that had yet to be discovered. With the energy of volunteers from the College of Western Idaho (led by CWI faculty member Nikki Gorrell who drove her students all the way from Boise to Kooskia!) and our students and volunteers, we were able to cover a broader span of land than in the previous field season. We searched under rocks, trees, water in the creek, brushes, and fallen trees to find additional artifacts associated with the internment camp era. Our crawl survey produced a number of exciting finds featured in the last blog post, including a hand-carving of an animal in a piece of rock (possibly an otter), a porcelain vase featuring a dragon clay relief, buttons, and gaming pieces.
One of our additional goals for 2013 was to attempt to determine the location of the camp’s Canteen. We are fairly confident we discovered the location of it based on the excavation of two 1×1 meter units that revealed very few artifacts. The presence of building-related artifacts on the surface of these units, such as insulators and electrical wiring, also suggests to us that we may have found the building’s former location.
Public Archaeology Day
One of the best parts of our job is to share what we have found with the public, as well as to give them a glimpse into the life of an archaeologist. We were fortunate to be able to host another Public Archaeology Day this year, and our crew did a brilliant job setting the event up and coming up with ideas for it. The event was widely advertised and we had over 50 people show up from it from all over the states of Idaho and Washington.
We had two tables that featured artifacts found during the 2013 excavations, along with identification books that helped show members of the public how archaeologists date, price, and interpret artifacts. We had a PowerPoint slideshow of finds from 2010 running on one of those tables, along with sign-in sheets at both tables to track who came to the event. A third table was dedicated to teaching children (and willing adults!) how to crossmend fragments from broken ceramics and glass, and a fourth table gave members of the public an opportunity to help clean artifacts recovered from the 2013.
Here are some images from our 2013 Public Archaeology Day:
This event did not happen without a lot of behind the scenes work and planning. The signs pictured below were provided by University of Idaho’s Communications and Marketing Team. Laura Ng, the Assistant Director of this year’s project, worked with interns Lawrence Shaw and Kristen Tiede to organize and publicize the event, which involved flyering local towns, contacting news and radio stations, and talking with local newspapers. We are thankful for the generous support of an NPS Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant for funding different items used in this event and in the field laboratory, including the artifact drying rack pictured below. Refreshments were generously provided by Three Rivers Resort, who has gone out of their way to help our project and support our research. We are thankful for their support and kindness during our 2013 field season.
Media and Press
We are also thrilled to see our research being featured in national news outlets, and are very grateful for the outpouring of support and information via emails, letters, and phone calls. I (Stacey) still have to get back to many people, and am trying to do that in the midst of getting ready for the fall semester and enjoying the last moments of summer with my children and husband. Here are some different news articles that have featured the research this summer:
Finally, we are so very thankful to Dr. Priscilla Wegars for introducing us to the Kooskia Internment Camp and for all that she has done to get this project underway. Without her research we would not be able to do the wonderful archaeological work that has taken place in 2010 and 2013. Here is a link to her two books, which I highly recommend if you are interested in learning more information on the Kooskia Internment Camp: http://www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/aacc/KOOSKIA.HTM
Thanks again to everyone – students, supporters, staff, and volunteers – for a wonderful summer!
It’s incredible what can be revealed when the vestiges of time are removed. A seemingly ordinary piece of rock turns out to be a unique piece of art. A small sherd of ceramic is cleaned and exhibits a mark telling us precisely who made it, and where and when it was made. These small, yet significant discoveries are the privilege of the archaeological field lab. We take plastic bags from the field excavation and surface collection, which are teeming with nearly as much dirt as artifacts, and we clean and sort them. Often, we find and see things that went unnoticed in the field, where they were obscured by a layer of dirt or overlooked as workers hurried to do their job.
The field lab is made up of some rather simple tools and equipment. On picnic tables we lay out plastic trays, bowls, and a handful of toothbrushes. Field bags are poured onto a tray, then sorted by material type. Glass and ceramic artifacts are washed in the bowls with plain water and a toothbrush. We are careful to watch for anything that may be rubbed off by the toothbrushes—the remnants of a paper label, or a delicate decoration. Metal and rubber artifacts are cleaned with a dry toothbrush, and organic and synthetic materials (such as bones, paper, or leather) are dry brushed unless they are too fragile. After everything has been cleaned, it is laid out on a drawer of a stackable drying rack for at least one day. Ceramic can absorb water, so we are careful to make sure that it is completely dry before it is re-bagged.
Megan dry-brushing some metal
Kathy and Megan cleaning artifacts
Though field lab work is more mellow, and often simpler than the field excavation work, it is an equally important component. For the Kooskia Internment Camp project, which produces significant amounts of artifacts (nearly two hundred bags in the first week and a half), a field lab is especially crucial. Getting even a small portion of the artifacts cleaned in the field saves valuable time later on, when more energy should be exerted on research and analysis rather than cleaning. Furthermore, cleaning artifacts in the field often reveals something that may influence field work. For instance, the lab crew may discover that a certain area is producing artifacts that have a higher concentration of Japanese porcelain, and could therefore suggest that an excavation unit be placed in that area.
Porcelain tea cup, hand-painted and gilded
Hand-painted porcelain saucer
Porcelain vessel with dragon motif
The field schools students really enjoy working in the lab, and not only because it’s a break from the more exerting work done in the field. I too enjoy teaching them how to recognize, clean, and identify different types of artifacts. For all of us, it is exciting to watch an artifact transform in our hands once it has been cleaned—something that is not always possible in the field. Not to say that every artifact we clean is exciting (the volume of non-diagnostic glass shards, nails, and small bits of metal does get tiring), but the treasures which occasionally come along make up for any tedium. Some of the fascinating and favorite artifacts include the Japanese porcelain pictured above, which likely were transported to the site by the internees. Another spectacular item is what appears to be a hand-carved animal figure on a flat piece of soft stone, with an anthropomorphized face. It is still unclear if it was made at the site or brought there. Other items tell us about the mundane aspects of the internees’ life. A metal denture mold reminds us that they did have access to dental care at one point. Nail clippers tell us that they had access to basic grooming tools. Bottles and ceramic dishes with maker’s marks give us an idea of what products they used, and how the camp was supplied with its basic equipment, such as tableware.
Carved stone figure, possibly an otter, possibly made at the site
Button, possibly left over or re-used from the prison
Greetings from a very hot Lowell, Idaho! We have completed the first week on the second field season of the Kooskia Internment Camp Archaeological Project and have survived torrential rain, an unexpected high water level of the creek we need to cross, and intense heat. However, we have done a pretty exceptional job considering the challenges and made great progress.
This year we have two staff members besides myself (Stacey Camp) helping to direct the project. Laura Ng is our Assistant Field Director/Crew Chief, and she has worked at two former Japanese American incarceration sites: Amache (Granada) and Manzanar. She is writing her MA thesis on Manzanar and should be finishing up at the University of Massachusetts Boston soon. Jessica Goodwin is our Laboratory Field Manager/Crew Chief and is currently working on her MA at the University of Idaho. She worked with me on the Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga Public Archaeology Project last summer, and is writing her thesis on the archaeology from that project. Kali Warren is our resident Laboratory Director for this summer and did an absolutely fabulous job organizing, cleaning, and loading equipment for us to take to Kooskia – this was a huge organizational job and she deserves lots of kudos for doing such a great job. Kyla Fitz-Gerald also served as a graduate student Crew Chief intern this summer and was a great help during the first week of the project. She made this great video of the first week of the project:
We also have two undergraduate interns – Kristen Tiede and Lawrence Shaw – joining us this summer on a Key Fund Grant through the University of Idaho’s College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences.
Our first week was an adventure. The staff – Laura, Jessica, Kyla, and me (and Kali while we were in Moscow) – packed up the van last Monday and headed out to Kooskia on Monday afternoon. We got into Kooskia late in the evening and then spent the next day organizing equipment, unpacking, visiting the site, and doing a staff orientation. During our site visit it rained, and the creek water level was higher than it was last summer in 2010. This posed a challenge for getting across the creek. In addition, we discovered that the cable we had been using had disappeared, meaning that we had nothing to stabilize us while crossing the creek. This made me nervous, so we enlisted the help of a local who does horse treks and pack trains. He got a rope up for us, which solved part of the problem. The creek was also really cold when we arrived (since then it has warmed up), so we bought a wet suit to keep us warm when crossing.
Three Rivers Resort, which is where we are staying, was kind enough to loan us life jackets as another safety measure. The creek is not incredibly deep, but it is enough to make us worry just a little bit more than the summer of 2010. Our students helped blow up a boat and create a pulley system that allows us to move equipment across the creek with the boat. The boat might not make it to the end of the field season, but it
While the start to the field season was a little rough, once we got everything set up we were able to start work on time and begin to re-establish the grid system we used in 2010.
We conducted another surface survey of a landscape we studied in 2010, which is still in progress because of the size of the site and extent of the archaeological deposits. We are hoping to be done with it on Friday or Saturday of this coming week.
We also opened up our first excavation unit of the season and are planning to open up more this coming week (week 2).
We have 12 anthropology students coming from the College of Western Idaho this week, along with their department chair, Dr. Nikki Gorrell, to help with our project. We have had a number of volunteers stay with us this past week, too, including Melissa’s mom, Hanako (she is an Interpretive Specialist at the Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site in Boise), and Brianna, a high school student from Northern California.
I also conducted a surface survey and collection of artifact’s in the creek, which involved a lot of water and a number of insect bites. Here are some of the discoveries from that survey.
This week has gone by very quickly thanks to the great staff, volunteers, and students we have on this year’s project. We are so thankful for everyone’s support in this project and for this field season up and running. It is really a pleasure to be back at this important, historical site and work to get it back on the map of American memory.
The artifact researched for this blog post was a single sherd of whiteware with a molded edge featuring a decal design of a blue bird and pink flowers. After conducting several fruitless internet searches in an attempt to identify the manufacturer, I finally made contact with a University of Idaho graduate student, Ashley Morton, who was able to solve the mystery. The sherd turned out to be a classic “blue bird” design manufactured widely by the Homer Laughlin Ceramics Company. Homer Laughlin used this decal in several different ways on several different dinnerware designs in order to create new, affordable styles between 1917 and 1959. The sherd recovered from Kooskia came from a piece “Republic” style dinnerware, identifiable by its slightly scalloped molded edge. The blue bird motif was most popular in America in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Based on the fact that the bluebird sherd was recovered from the incinerator feature, it is likely that it was deposited as refuse. Unfortunately, the disturbed nature of the context in which it was found on the surface precludes any kind of dating that we may have been able to attain from soil stratigraphy. Without such a reference, we are left with the manufacture dates of this particular kind of ceramic which ranges from 1917-1959 to use as a relative dating tool. We know that the Kooskia Internment Camp operated as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp and federal prison in the years prior to World War II, becoming operational as an Internment camp in May of 1943 through May of 1945. Since even the earliest dates of occupation, when Kooskia was established as a CCC camp in 1933, correspond with the manufacture dates of Homer Laughlin Republic tableware featuring the bluebird decals, it is hard to narrow down when it may have been deposited. Knowing when it was deposited may offer insight into who deposited it which in turn may illuminate questions as to whom it may have belonged to. Perhaps the first research question should be how was it deposited? If we are going to assume that it was discarded as garbage there are more questions that beg answering: Was all refuse from the camp disposed of in the incinerator? Was internee refuse separated from refuse created by the guards? If they were disposed of separately, was this behavior prescribed or coincidental? Answering such questions may provide insight into such issues as sanitation practices, socioeconomic status of non-internees and possibly the modes of acquisition of personal possessions belonging internees.
Welcome to the spring 2013 semester of the Kooskia Internment Camp Archaeological Project! I am very excited to be teaching my ANTH 432/532: Historic Artifact Analysis course this semester. It is one of my favorite classes to teach because it gives me a chance to teach students hands-on skills that they can use in the profession of archaeology. It also gives me a chance to learn more about the Kooskia Internment Camp, as we get so much cataloging and work done when I teach this class. It helps to have 20 students working on the project at the same time!
I think I mentioned this last semester, but we are very grateful for another grant from the National Park Service’s Japanese American Confinement Sites Program fund. I spent some time in the lab this past week working on organizing the collection, taking stock of what needs to be accomplished before the field season this summer, and cataloging the assemblage.
So far, we have cataloged a total of 18 boxes of materials comprising of 1,968 artifacts. We still have 33 boxes that need to be cataloged, though the majority of those boxes contain metal and non-diagnostic artifacts. We are hoping to sail through the rest of the material culture this semester because we have a lot of people working on the collection (over 22 people!).
I am hoping to have a report out sometime this year that I will share on this website for other researchers to access and utilize.
This fall we find ourselves knee deep in preparation for the 2013 field school as well as busy with laboratory analysis and cataloging. We are also gearing up for my spring 2013 class, Historic Artifact Analysis, where students will be able to catalog artifacts from the Kooskia Internment Camp. I am looking forward to seeing what new discoveries we will make with an entire class working on the collection.
Thanks to an NPS grant via the Japanese American Confinement Sites program, I have been able to purchase curatorial boxes and artifact bags for the entire 2010 collection. This grant has also allowed me to purchase a number of new books for our lab, on topics ranging from the archaeology of internment, Nippon era ceramics, public archaeology, and site preservation. These books will be very helpful as we continue to work on the collection this spring and go out into the field in the summer.
I have spoke on the project’s findings recently, including an online webinar talk I gave in October for the National Park Service (which can be found by clicking here) and a talk in November at the American Anthropological Association’s annual conference that was held in San Francisco, California. At the conference, I was able to see several fellow internment scholars, including Dana Shew and Dr. Bonnie Clark of the DU Amache Research Project and Adrian Myers of the Whitewater POW Camp Archaeology Project. Doug Ross, my co-director, was also there. We were all in the same session, which was organized by my former dissertation committee chair, Dr. Barbara Voss of Stanford University. It was great to catch up as well as think about the intersections between places and material culture of internment.
As for the field school, I have scheduled housing at Three Rivers Resort between the dates of June 27th and July 26th, 2013 for our 2013 field school. Please contact me if you are interested in being a part of the field school – my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I think spaces will fill up fairly quickly this year, so if you are interested drop me an email before late spring.
We thank everyone for the continued support and look forward to sharing our findings this coming spring!
While cataloging today, I got the chance to research this little glass sherd, or fragment, which packs a big punch as far as its history goes. Though Prohibition officially ended in late 1933, the Temperance movement did not; so, on the 1st of January 1935, all liquor bottles were required to have FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS SALE OR RE-USE OF THIS BOTTLE embossed on their panel, until of course this too was repealed in 1964.
Unfortunately, not all venders could afford to keep up with the times and change out their machinery, meaning the end date of 1964 is not as solid as an archaeologist would want. Note: this requirement pertained only to liquor bottles, not wine and beer bottles, as it was supposed to discourage moonshiners from re-using these materials (I guess making alcohol legal wasn’t enough of a damper for bootleggers).
For more information on this subject please visit the following websites compiled by the very knowledgeable Bill Lockhart: