Angel Archives, Box 56

December 10, 2018

by Victoria Kvitek

Continuing where my last blog post left off, I am now about halfway through Indiana newspaper articles from the 1960s that mention Angel Mounds. I started coming across much longer pieces about the site mid-1964. These articles go into depth about Indiana’s pre-history as hypothesized based on findings at Angel. Earlier pieces have touched on these details but more frequently announced events that would discuss the excavation and its findings, or focused more on the political and economic logistics of acquiring and excavating Angel. My first explanation for this change was that by the mid-60s a) a critical mass of information had been collected about Angel, b) Angel had been a national monument and state park for a sufficient amount of time, and c) a level of widespread publicity about the site had been reached such that the public was finally informed and interested enough to know more about Angel as a place that they were welcomed to visit and feel entitled to inform themselves about as average citizens given the right and ability to learn about this heritage…that is, the mid-60s marked a transition of Angel’s status from the domain of academia in concert with governing bodies to that of academia in concert with the public….

But, a discovery made in the early stages of Glenn Black Lab’s collaboration with the Indiana Historical Society for an upcoming exhibit about Angel Mounds has caused me to question this theory, and wonder whether the lack of lengthy, juicy news pieces on Angel prior to the mid-1960s was due instead to a gap in the archive database I have been using.

Newspaper article with title "Washington Notebook..."
These articles go into depth about Indiana’s pre-history as hypothesized based on findings at Angel. Earlier pieces have touched on these details but more frequently announced events that would discuss the excavation and its findings, or focused more on the political and economic logistics of acquiring and excavating Angel.

Angel archives box #56 holds a folder of newspaper clippings from 1938 and 1939 published in the Evansville Courier/Evansville Courier and Press There are multipage articles about Angel, covering its purchase and the politics surrounding its acquisition as well as early findings at the site, quotes from Glenn Black, community and government opinion about the excavation, and large cartoons relating to these debates, along with illustrated and elaborated maps of the site. These articles are not included in the Newspaper Archive IU Libraries-linked database I have been using, and the Evansville Courier has not appeared on any database of digitized news articles I have found so far. Further, Hannah Rea has noted that newspaper articles in different Indiana cities early in the Angel excavation used different terms for the site, e.g. “Indian mounds”, “ancient mounds”. Searching for these phrases may pull up longer articles that include in depth information and conjecture about the project’s findings like that seen in the pieces from the 60s sampled above.

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Fall 2018 Newsletter

From the desk of the curator

Click here to read a message from Curator Melody Pope.


conferences

Midwest Archaeology Conference (MAC)

This year’s MAC was held at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Several GBL staff presented research on the Bicentennial dig at the Wylie House, including Liz Watts Malouchos and Maclaren Guthrie.

Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums  (ATALM)

Director April Sievert and Librarian Kelsey Grimm, IU NAGPRA Director Jayne-Leigh Thomas, and program manager and former NAGPRA research fellow Teresa Nichols  went to the 2018 International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Read Kelsey’s post about NAGPRA in archives!

Southeastern Archaeology Conference (SEAC)

Paul Welch and Melody Pope at SEAC

Curator Melody Pope attended the 75th Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference in Augusta, Georgia.  Pope, along with colleague Paul Welch, presented results of their recent research that involves replicating and  using microdrills to study the wear patterns that develop on drill bits used to bore holes in fluorite, cannel coal, and marine shell.  This newly-launched collaborative research project between Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and the GBL at IU uses experimental archaeology to interpret the Fluorite Workshop at the Kincaid site located in the lower Ohio Valley.


Collections news

Save America’s Treasures Grant

In September 2018, the GBL was awarded a Save America’s Treasures grant to rehabilitate and rehouse about 2.8 million artifacts from Angel Mounds over the next 3 years. These grants are administered by the National Park Service in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The “Curating Angel” project will allow us to provide safe, long-term preservation of the artifacts and associated documentation from archaeological work at Angel Mounds and make these collections more accessible for research and education. Keep checking our website for up-to-date information as we officially launch the project in January 2019!

More about IMLS: The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities.

GLOVE Digitizing – Shawnee THDS

Photo courtesy of IU Communications

Selena McCracken was hired at the end of January 2018 to digitize the Shawnee Tribal History Document Series (THDS) of the Great Lakes-Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Collection. This was done as part of a contract established with the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and an IMLS grant. As of September, Selena finished digitizing the series, amassing 12,603 images that will be made viewable online via the finding aid.

Kellar Papers Processing and Rehousing

Photo courtesy of IU Communications

Bill Koester worked on processing and rehousing the collection of Dr. James Kellar, a noted archaeologist and the first director of Indiana University’s Glenn Black Lab. Read more about his work on his blog!


Summer news

Wylie House Excavations

Over the summer, the GBL continued work at the Wylie House as part of IU’s celebration of the upcoming bicentennial. Students involved in the dig posted weekly updates on our blog, find them here!

Angel Mounds Historic Marker

A photo of the marker at Angel Mounds, courtesy of Mike Linderman.
April Sievert and Mike Linderman with the marker at Angel Mounds.

Over the summer, a marker was erected at the Angel Mounds Historic Site to recognize Glenn Black for his contribution to Indiana archaeology and to Angel Mounds.


Exhibits

Out With the Old: “Containing Knowledge: Ceramics at the GBL”

Exploring pottery as containers in both literal and metaphorical ways, this exhibit featured a selection of whole pots as well as objects used to make and decorate ceramics. Technology, decoration, use, and cosmology were touched on through the use of beautiful images and pieces. A special section of the exhibit looked at the work of local archaeology students and their efforts to temper clay and build and fire pots in the ways that Mississippian people might have.

The exhibit closed in Summer 2018.

 In With the New: “Animal~Spirit~Human”

For Themester 2018, the GBL explores interpretation of the complex and varying relationships between animals and humans in the ancient Midwest. Depictions of animals are known to be among some of the earliest mural and decorative art, for example, the well-known Paleolithic cave art of Europe that depicts now-extinct species. Whether rendered into wood, clay, stone, metal, or shell, animals contribute much to the symbolic and iconographic content of Native American representation.

The exhibit opened in October 2018.


volunteer and student appreciation

           Collections: Hannah Ballard, Preet Gill, Darlene McDermott, and                                                       Amanda Pavot

           Library: Bill Koester, Victoria Kvietek, Selena McCracken, and                                                          Brianna McLaughlin

           Programming: Hannah Rea

 Thank you to all who gave their time this semester!


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Planning an Exhibit

November 27, 2018

Planning an exhibit takes a lot of time and energy on the part of all involved. During the process of putting up our new exhibit, “Animal~Spirit~Human,” we created a to-do list to make sure we checked all the boxes and put up an exhibit we were proud of.

Here’s a condensed version of that list:

1. Generate Theme

Our exhibit followed this semester’s Themester theme of animal-human relationships. “Animal~Spirit~Human” follows that theme by investigating the role of animals in sustaining and inspiring past and present Native people of the Eastern Woodlands. Once we had our theme in mind, we were able to create a uniform aesthetic to make sure all of the cases matched. This entailed picking fonts and a color scheme, and determining what size each of the different labels should be, to make sure all exhibit goers could easily read them.

2. Select Artifacts/Prepare Condition Reports

With that theme in mind, we were able to get an idea of what artifacts to include. Each case plays a different role in telling the story of animal-human relationships. The cases on the north wall of the gallery hall serve as an introduction to the exhibit. The east wall examines a worldview in terms of different spheres, such as air and water. The south wall compares pre- and post-European contact animal populations. And the west wall is dedicated to examining animal-human relations at Angel Mounds.

An example of an artifact photo, this one of an owl effigy pot (18-170-0).

This means each wall’s theme determines the contents of its cases, allowing us to get an idea of what artifacts would best explain and exemplify the theme. Once we selected the artifacts, we photographed them and wrote condition reports. These detail the current condition of the artifacts by noting breakage, cracks, and repairs. They allow us to keep track of where the artifact is and why it was removed from the collections. When we take the exhibit down, we’ll do another round of condition reports to see if anything changed.

3. Prepare Exhibit Cases

Repainting the exhibit cases took GBL staff several days of after-hours work.

Putting in a new exhibit required us to take out the old, Containing Knowledge: Ceramics at the GBL.” After doing the follow-up photos and condition reports, we returned the artifacts to our collections. Once we removed the old display blocks and the cases were empty, we spent several days cleaning and repainting them. This brightened the exhibit space and made the gallery look more inviting. Many artifacts are unable to stand on their own, so it was necessary to create mounts for them. We carved mounts out of foam and other materials on which to display them. The foam mounts were covered with a layer of fabric in between the material and the artifact, for both the safety of the artifact and to provide a contrasting background.

4. Research Collections and Write Text

Now it was time to write the text and select relevant images. Each case has four categories of labels: the Title (A), the Subheader (B), the Body Text (C), and the Artifact ID Labels (D). Defining the terminology of labels early on can prevent confusion later in the process, and make it easier to visualize the layout of the case before anything actually goes up. To write descriptions of the artifacts and their relevance to the theme, we utilize the collections and the resources in our library and archives.

5. Print Text/Images and Cut to Size

It took several hours to print each label, in addition to the time dedicated to trim and place them.

The next step was to print the text and images. This is a very time-consuming process, due to the size and amount of the various labels. We used the large printer over at our neighbor, the Mathers Museum, to print on Print-N-Stick paper, which has an adhesive backing that allows us to adjust the placement of the labels if necessary without damaging the paint in the cases.

6. Install Artifacts

During this step, timing is important since we can’t leave artifacts in unlocked cases. In most cases, the text was the first to go in. Then blocks or risers which elevated or raised the artifacts to needed heights were selected based on the artifact selection and case design. Artifacts and mounts, as well as barriers between artifacts and painted surfaces, were then added. Once the artifacts were in place, the case stays locked; so if text needed adjusting it was much easier to do that while the case was open and easily accessible.

7. Finishing Touches

Now it was time for last-minute touch-ups to labels and placement of any other artifacts. These included repairs to the overhead lights in the cases, and the erection of the folding wall in the middle of the hall, which displays shields from four tribes and descriptions of their histories, provided by the tribes themselves.

8. Sharing the Exhibit

Marketing the exhibit was an ongoing process throughout development and installation, but the main push came upon our opening in early October.

9. Events

An image from Cheryl Claassen’s talk.

Finally, to celebrate the opening of our exhibit, we threw events: on Thursday, Nov. 1, we had a talk by Dr. Cheryl Claassen, “On Deer, Shell Beads, and the Milky Way.” The following day, Friday, Nov. 2, we had a Themester panel, featuring Amanda Burtt, Dr. Claassen, Justin Downs, and Gary Morseau.

We learned a lot in the process of putting up this exhibit, and look forward to applying these new insights in the future. In the meantime, we hope you’ll come down to see the exhibit and celebrate Themester by attending some of the other great events on campus this semester!

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Archaeology Month: Excavations at Angel Mounds

In 1947, Glenn A. Black taught three courses in Indiana University’s Anthropology department.  He did his best to teach excavation methods, problem-solving methods, and how to develop film and use the proper tools.  But he found it wasn’t enough.

In Angel Site: An Archaeological, Historical, and Ethnological Study, published posthumously after his death in 1964, Black wrote he found it impossible to really teach students how to conduct fieldwork in the classroom.  So he turned to field schools –after a few trial runs in 1945, ’46, and ’47, he received funding and the go ahead to establish a field school at the Angel Mounds Historic Site.  The state of Indiana had held the title to the site since 1945; just a few years previously, it had been owned by the Indiana Historic Society.

It was in late 1947 at Angel that six old hutments from the U.S. Army were set up, along with (after some pushing) basic sanitation facilities, barracks, and a kitchen.  Gertrude Behrick was hired as the cook.  The first class of students arrived in June 1948.

This wasn’t the first excavation to take place at Angel Mounds in the twentieth century.  During the Great Depression, jobs were provided at the site thanks to the Works Progress Administration.  WPA efforts at the site lasted from 1939 to 1942, eventually halted by America’s entry into World War II.

By 1945, the war was winding down and Glenn Black and others were itching to return to the site.

Field schools weren’t exactly an easy sell to the University, and certainly weren’t just easy work for students looking to make a few bucks over the summer, something Black himself noted in Angel Site:

“Field schools can be justified only in the hope that the practical training given the students will pay dividends in the years which they devote later to field archaeology.”

Field schools continued (after the initial post-war test runs) from the first student group in 1948 to 1962, all at Angel Mounds with the exception of 1953 (which instead took place in Warrick County, at the Yankeetown site) and 1956.

In honor of Indiana Archaeology Month, here’s a few photographs of field school crews.

  • 1949
1949 Field School (N2747)

Back Row: (left-right) Donald Lee Hochstrasser; Charles T. Jacobs; Hugh N. Davis, Jr.; William L. Kaschube; Richard W. Noel; Roy K. Flint; and a man identified only as Hickerson

Front Row: (left-right) Nancy Parrott Hickerson; Dorthea M. Vedral Kaschube; Barbara Jo Serber; Alice Shroyer; Ann Chowning; and Emily Jane Blasingham

Not Pictured: Henry P. Childs; Robert Crabtree; Ellas Adis-Castro; and Hilda J. Curry

  • 1950
1950 Field School (N1790)

(left-right) Lynd J. Esch; Clarence H. Webb, Jr.; June S. Nettleship; Barbara J. MacCulley; Gerald W. Hubbart, Jr.; Jerry D. Hopkins; James H. Kellar; Robert C. Dailey; Jane Kellar; and Virginia E. Rice

Not Pictured: Hilda J. Curry and Hugh N. Davis, Jr.

  • 1951
1951 Field School (N2846)

(left-right) James H. Kellar; John R. Longbons; Jana Kellar (baby); Ida Black (holding Jana); Jane Kellar; Emily Jane Blasingham; Gertrude Behrick; Robert Forth; Nelson Smith; Ann Liest; and Elizabeth Brockschlager

  • 1954
1954 Field School (N2384)

(left-right) Lily O’C. J. Marchant; Joan Popoff; Bettye J. Broyles; and Ann Stofer Johnson

Not Pictured: Carol K. Rachlin

  • 1955
1955 Field School (S1410)

Glenn A. Black (sitting, far right); George E. Noble; Ethel M. Enyart; Edward V. McMichael; and Martha Orr

Not Pictured: Richard Johnston, Joan Potochniak, and Lora Steele

  • 1960
1960 Field School (N4842)

(left-right) Duane Campbell; Phyllis L. Jacobs; Jeaneatte Hornbaker; Loretta Reinhardt; John T. Dorwin; Andrew L. Szczesniak; and Robert C. Kiste

  • 1962
1962 Field School (N5510)

(left-right) Richard B. Johnston; Theodore Stevens; William R. Merrimee; Charles Jenkins; and Charles A. Martijn

Not Pictured: Thomas Downen

Recently, there have been several other digs at Angel Mounds, and continued cooperation between the University, the GBL, and Angel Mounds to preserve and study the area’s history.


Sources:

Black, Glenn A. Angel Site: An Archaeological, Historical, and Ethnological Study. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1967. Volume 1.

GBL Online Image Collection

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Library: Processing and Rehousing Project

Bill Koester is an intern in the Kellar Library this semester. Follow along with his project at his blog! Here’s a report of his first week:

For this internship, I will be processing and rehousing the collection of Dr. James Kellar, a noted archaeologist and the first director of Indiana University’s Glenn Black Lab. The collection has been in storage for some time, and although it has been organized a bit into boxes along some subject lines, it has never really been examined closely. That will be my job.

The collection takes up fourteen small archival boxes, one large archival box, and a single extra file folder.

The first order of business is assessing the collection, which entails opening the container and examining the the documents inside of them. This first week, I was able to explore the single folder and the large box.

While the fourteen smaller boxes seem to have some order to their housing (at least according to their labels), the large box (simply labeled “Kellar”) would appear to be the collection’s miscellaneous box, or possibly a box for documents found after the rest of them were put in order. Inside was an array of different types of documents: newspaper clippings, correspondence with various people and within the IU department, some photographs, promotional materials for seminars, contracts and official documents from digs, academic records and payment forms. The documents had a mixed order to them. The newspaper clippings and less formal letters seemed to have been simply collected, their files sometimes overflowing. More official documents like official letters, contracts and payment or academic things were more orderly.

The initial assessment of the collection will likely take a few more weeks (although, it already seems to take less time to go through the documents than when I began on my first day). After that, my job will be to re-catalog and re-order the collection based on my assessment. After only this first box, I am still a ways away from deciding on a new order.

Don’t forget to check out Bill’s blog to follow his progress through the semester!

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