During the past week we've learned
more about the two homes at 915-917 North California Street. Some of
this came from new artifact finds like the German mineral water bottle
Mike Willever is holding at left, and some came from the gradual process of
digging more units and piecing together stratigraphy across the site.
|Right: As field school students dig
beside them, Lula Emile-Baxter (center) and Helen E. Lewis (right) talk to
Indiana University's Communications Assistant to the President Susan Moke
(far left). Mrs. Emile-Baxter and Mrs. Lewis grew up in the home
that once stood at 917 North California Street. Their father Philip
Emile, Sr. (1875-1963) purchased the home by the 1930's.
|Like most homes
in the near-Westside, the two houses at 915 and 917 were constantly being
modified: most homes in the near-Westside were rather small, but
they changed as children were born, guests or boarders arrived, and
families needed more room to house their things. Consequently, some
of our research is focused on simply examining how a house reflects such
life cycles: archaeology, primary records like maps, and oral
history allows us to date such changes with a great deal of precision, and
with this information we can examine the connections between architectural
changes and specific families' experiences.
on the thumbnail to the left for a larger image) The thumbnail
above shows the foundation cut for the home at 915 North California
Street. The arrows in the excavation profile show a division between
very light and dark soil where it appears that the original construction
crew dug down to place the foundation along the rear wall of the
home. The dark soil has artifacts in it that should allow us to date
this fill soil; the lighter soil had almost no artifacts, except around
that pipe, which appears to have been a drain pipe that came down off the
rear of the home.
the thumbnailed excavation profile above is likely along the rear wall of
the home shown here in an 1898 Sanborn insurance map. Compare the
size of the home in 1898 to its size in 1940 (on the right), by when it
had been expanded well into the side yard up to the lot line.
In 1940, the once-modest home had been significantly expanded into the
side yard; the light red rectangle in this picture is the home's original
block built in the 1870's. The red arrow indicates about where we
think the cellar cut was made. We have expanded this original unit
in each direction, hoping to find the walls and construction debris
associated with the home's modifications over nearly a century.
|The Back Yard
Back yards typically do not yield may artifacts from the spaces that are
heavily trafficked. Most near-Westside house lots front onto the
street or have very small front yard spaces, so many households used their
back yards very intensively for gardens, small animals, various household
labors (e.g., laundresses often washed in yards), and to build onto their
home--some homes extended nearly to the alley in the most extreme
examples. As we were excavating the yard we did hit some very
heavily compacted soil layers with only a few small artifacts, which seems
typical of a well-used yard. But we also found much deeper deposits
associated with a pipe trench, including the horseshoe to the right.
The unit continued to have a modest quantity of early artifacts, including
some mid-nineteenth century ceramics, down to the pipe itself.
(thumbnail): A horseshoe from the yard.
Tom peers into the ever-deepening pipe cut.
In 1948, Colgate heralded the introduction of Veto Cream Deodorant, which
promised to say no to offending odor. This tin lid and milk glass
container--long empty--was recovered in the yard of the house at 917 North
volunteer too, and after the field school there's still plenty of stuff to
do: if you're interested in digging, doing research, or have other
questions about the project, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated June 6, 2002