Spring 2017 Donation Summaries

May 1, 2017

by Melody Pope, Curator of Collections

Robert F. Braunlin, M.D., and G. Louise Braunlin Collection

The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology announces the donation of significant artifacts, books and related documents from the family of Robert F. Braunlin, M.D., and G. Louise Braunlin.  Dr. Robert F. Braunlin was an avid collector of Native American material culture especially in the 1930s and 1940s.  The collection was passed down to Dr. Braunlin’s son William.  William Braunlin’s son, also Robert F. Braunlin, and his sons completed the transfer to the GBL in December 2016.  The items will be part of the laboratory’s permanent archaeological collection, and will also be part of the donated collections that explore the practice of collecting antiquities during the early part of the twentieth century.   The collection numbering nearly 1,200 items includes ceramic vessels, pipes, atlatl weights, bone tools, plummet stones and numerous chipped and ground stone tools.


Jeremiah Mattix Collection

The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology announces the donation of a small collection of artifacts from the family Jeremiah Mattix.  Mr. Mattix farmed in Indiana Creek Township, Pulaski County, and Liberty Township, White County, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries; this donated collection reflects the collecting of Native American artifacts turned up by his plow.  The collection was passed down to the granddaughter of Jeremiah Mattix, Orpha Wickersham, and then to her executor who was the mother of David Lottes of Fairmount, Illinois.  Mr. Lottes donated the items to the GBL on behalf of Jeremiah Mattix.  The items will be part of the laboratory’s permanent archaeological collection, and will also be part of the donated collections that explore the practice of collecting antiquities during this time period.  The collection includes numerous projectile points that will be part of a project that maps spatial distributions of point types and raw materials across land forms and regions in Indiana.


Anonymous Collection

The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology announces the donation of a small collection of artifacts from an anonymous donor.  This collection includes numerous projectile points found in Tippecanoe County near Lafayette, Indiana, between 1975 and 1977.  The donor was affiliated with Purdue University at the time and was involved in corn research that required traveling the county and surveying fields for weeds, insects and diseases.  The collection will be part of a project that maps spatial distributions of point types and raw materials across land forms and regions in Indiana.

SAA Conference

April 28, 2017

by Melody Pope, Curator of Collections

In March, Curator Melody Pope traveled to Vancouver for the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.  Pope presented a paper titled “Exploring the Ineffable Aspects of Stone Tools” in the symposium “Integrating Functional Analysis: Contributions from Use-Wear Analysis within the Broader Context of Human Behavior in Prehistoric North America,” organized by Katherine Sterner and Robert Ahlrichs.  She also attended several informative sessions on collections management, digital archaeology and heritage, collections based research, and archives. While in Vancouver Pope had the opportunity to visit the University of British Columbia – Vancouver Campus Museum of Anthropology and took in some sights while hiking the City of Vancouver sea wall.

Schedule of events at the SAA
Hiking along the sea wall

Drums Along the Scioto

April 11, 2017

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern

The Mathers Museum of World Cultures Classroom was packed full of people for a lunchtime talk on Tuesday, April 11.

The discussion, entitled “Drums Along the Scioto: losing our marbles but gaining new insights on Hopewell material culture from contemporary Shawnee ceremonial practices,” was a joint presentation of a collaborative research project by Ben Barnes, Second Chief of the Shawnee Tribe, and Dr. Brad Lepper, Senior Curator of Archaeology for the Ohio History Connection.

In the talk, they discussed objects found at the larger Seip Mound in the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park in Ohio.  Specifically, five small stone orbs –Steatite Spheres.  Unearthed in excavations led by Henry Shetrone in the 1920s, they were previously thought to have been marbles used as children’s toys.

Second Chief Barnes and Dr. Lepper described that Shetrone likely arrived at this conclusion by using his current context, as marbles were a popular pastime of American children in the ‘20s; however, Second Chief Barnes pointed out, there is no evidence of such games existing in American Indian culture.

A possible identity can be found in the practice of using water drums, common throughout the centuries in various tribes across America: cylindrical bowls or dishes, sometimes made of wood, which are covered in various types of animal hides, are secured; around the edges, small round stones are pulled tightly and tied in place under the hide.  The stones seem to bear a striking resemblance to those found in the Seip Mound excavation.

Dr. Lepper explained that he hoped this possible identification would open a discussion on new interpretations of the objects, saying it was an “exciting opportunity” moving forward to increase conversation on Hopewell culture.

Video of the talk at the links below:

Part One

Part Two

The GBL at the Lotus World Bazaar

April 3, 2017

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern

On Friday and Saturday last week, staff from the Glenn Black Lab ran a table at the 22nd Lotus Blossoms World Bazaar.  One of many booths in the gym of Binford Elementary School, the GBL’s table featured ‘rock art,’ which asked students to imagine the paper was the wall of their family’s cave.  Staff then asked them what was important to them, such as a pet or family member, that they would want to have on their cave wall for archaeologists to discover thousands of years later.

The activity helped students understand how messages were conveyed before systems of written language existed.  It also described the difference between petroglyphs –which are etched into rock– and pictographs –which are painted.

There were many different pictures shared by the students; here are some of our favorites:

A face

Two dragons

A Celtic knot

A squid

And, of course, we joined in the fun:

Other booths included several typewriters from the Writers’ Guild, on which people could type their own haikus or construct them from fragments of other sources; seeds from the Bloomington Community Orchard that students could plant in cups of dirt; several gourd instruments, medieval calligraphy and many, many more.

The fair was open to the community on Saturday for Family Day.

Women in Archaeology — Press Release

March 29, 2017

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Glenn A. Black Lab of Archaeology created an exhibit to pay tribute to the archaeological efforts of the women of our past.  The exhibit is split into two parts: the first, a physical wall of photos in the GBL lobby.  The second, a larger, digital collection of photos, with longer captions detailing the subject matter.  The photos were available as part of an ongoing digitization effort by our media team.

The online exhibit can be found here.

Saying Goodbye to the ‘Work in Progress’ Exhibit

March 28, 2017

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern

The “Work in Progress” exhibit was created in the run-up to the Glenn A. Black Lab’s 50th Birthday last year.  It was an attempt to shine a realistic light on the often-romanticized field of archaeology, by providing faces to accompany the names and discoveries of sites associated with the GBL.

“The real work of archaeology takes place in muddy fields, tidy labs, and in contentious journals and conferences,” the explanation of the exhibit read. “The photographs show the sometimes hilarious, sometimes miserable, but always interesting work that went into building our understanding of Indiana’s past.”

A timeline of Indiana history accompanied the photographs, providing artifacts and details of certain eras of life pre-European contact in the Hoosier State.

To make the exhibit more interactive for the public, sheets of paper were attached to each photo for visitors to write their thoughts and reflections on the photos.

Here are some of the interesting comments we received:

“The only person wearing pants is a woman. Things have changed.”

And a reply: “Sample is too small and there are women in shorts in the pic[ture] also.  Have times really changed?”

“Cuff game strong”

“Heads up!”

“That is hard work.”

“I miss the old archaeologist/explorer hats everyone used to wear, like the one the guy from ‘Tarzan’ has.”

Thank you to everyone who left comments!

Trip to Angel Mounds

March 6, 2017

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern

Frances Martin’s slide collection and journals.

On the table in front of us lay journals filled with Frances Martin’s neat scribbles, letters tightly packed, as many as she could fit on a single page.  Pages of notes and sketches of pots and figurines and axe heads found during the digs.

Binders of Martin’s personal slide collection, held up to the light to reveal the faces that match names we’ve seen over and over in our collections and archive material.  Some smiling, others stoic.  Records of pots and stone tablets and figurines.  Obsidian points.

A letter sent by Glenn A. Black to accepted members of the field schools, which ran from the 1940s to the ‘60s.  “What you may do in Evansville or Newburgh, if you are of legal age, is of course your own concern, but I do expect you not to bring criticism upon this camp.”

This past Friday, several members of the GBL staff –Librarian Kelsey Grimm, Curation Team Members Alex Elliott and Bailey Foust, and Programming/Social Media Intern Hannah Rea– traveled down to Angel Mounds to explore their collections and answer some of the reoccurring questions we’d had.

Hannah Rea, Alex Elliott, Kelsey Grimm and Bailey Foust at Angel Mounds.

We met with the manager of the site, Mike Linderman, whose office is crowded with memorabilia ranging from replicas of the various iterations of the Enterprise from “Star Trek,” to plaques honoring Glenn Black.

He laid the material he had on the table in front of us, spreading it out so we could get a good look at the treasures we’d been seeking.  He laughed as our eyes lit up in excitement, when we squealed in delight as he produced plaster models we’d seen only in photographs.  Called us “Glenn groupies.”

He’s one to talk –he lives in Glenn and Ida’s house, on the edge of the property.

Alex Elliott, Bailey Foust and Kelsey Grimm looking at Mike Linderman’s laptop.

We huddled over Mike’s shoulder, staring intently at his laptop as he flicked through the digitized photos from Frances Martin’s collection.  Martin was one of the women working at Angel Mounds during its excavations, though few official written records of her work there remain.  We have her journals, and we have photos –so many photos.

We gasped at faces we recognized, artifacts we have in our collections.  Laughed at the stories that accompanied each photo, which made the people within come alive.

Pointing at the screen at a figure in white leaning on the railing of a cruise ship, hand raised in a wave, on a trip the Blacks took with Eli and Ruth Lilly to New Orleans: “There’s Lilly.”

Smiling, to a photo of an excavator tilted at a strange angle on a muddy drive, a man standing to the side with his hands on his hips, during the construction of the Interpretive Center at Angel: “Their truck is stuck in a rut.”

Mike took us around the site in a vehicle they’d gotten free from Toyota (though they weren’t allowed to leave the site, as it had a VIN number of ‘0’), slipping around the muddy grass and pointing out clumps of yellow flowers, explaining that Ida planted daffodils along the front of the barracks and all across the site.

Daffodils planted by Ida Black.

The buds emerged tentatively from the cold ground, which had been snowed on just the day before, even though the buildings they’d lined were long gone.

“She left her mark on the site,” Mike said.  Just as Glenn’s name marks much of the material in the exhibits of the Interpretive Center, and local memory recalls him to be somewhat of a celebrity around the area, in her own way, Ida remains.

She had quite a green thumb –much of the backyard of the Blacks’ house and even the field across the street were once full of her flowers.  There are many a photo of her, smiling sweetly, in front of them.

Ida Black in 1946, from a collection donated by the family of Glenn A. and Ida Black.

That field is covered in trees now, as is much of the surrounding area.  Lines of houses and trailer parks, squished together to create the neighborhoods of Evansville, occupy what was once acres of open land.  “Glenn and Ida wouldn’t recognize the place, now,” Mike said thoughtfully, as we drove along the extent of the land which made up the site.

On the opening page of one of Frances Martin’s diary, there’s a quote: “Man in the form of several successive physical and cultural variations of the American Indian has lived in Indiana for many hundreds of years.”

And man, varied in many ways and across many cultural identities, continues to.

Some of their history is preserved at the Angel Mounds and, walking there, you get a feeling that you can almost hear them speaking.

They’re asking us not to forget them and, through studying sites like Angel, we won’t.

Projects, Projects, Projects

March 6, 2017

by Maclaren Guthrie

It’s safe to say that the GBL has kept me busy since my last blog post, I’ve worked on quite a few new things after finishing with the newspaper clippings. I have done a lot of research recently about historical burial grounds and how to enter them into state site files, as well as the legal land record. This is so Liz Watts Malouchos, the GBL’s research scientist, and I can add a previously unrecorded historic cemetery to the state records.

In addition to that research, a lot of my time has been spent identifying point types using the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology’s extensive type collections. The points I am identifying are a part of my grandmother’s large collection of finds from all over Indiana. Fortunately for me, she wrote down where the points were found which makes it a lot easier for me to identify them. I am also using Stone Age Spear and Arrow Points of the Midcontinental and Eastern United States by Noel D. Justice, the previous Curator of Collections at the GBL, to help me identify the points.

My favorite point in my grandmother’s collection.

My grandmother’s collection also includes some pottery that I am trying to learn more about. Specifically, a miniature vessel found near the Wabash River which Liz dated to the Mississippian period (1100 AD – 1400 AD), as well as some southwestern black on white and corrugated pottery from Hovenweep National Monument in Utah that was collected in the 1960’s.

Miniature Vessel, 1100 AD – 1400 AD

The Wylie Family and Religion

February 27, 2017

by Rachna Chaudhari, Bicentennial Intern, Spring 2017

Based on the family correspondences, it is fair to say religion was the center of life for the Wylie family. Because Andrew Wylie was a Presbyterian minister, this makes sense. It is also quite possible the Wylie’s were much more religious than the ordinary citizen because of this. Almost all of the letters mention God in one way or another. In one letter, Andrew Wylie wrote to Margaret Wylie on May 25th, 1829,

“I have felt more sensibly than ever since I left you the importance of living near to God & drawing all our comforts hopes & consolations from his mercy in Christ Jesus as promised in the gospel to the penitent & believing. May we feel our need of Christ more & more & live by faith upon him. We have much reason to bless God for all his goodness to us & to our family. There is one thing that we ought to desire for them above all earthly good, that they may become the subjects of divine grace & the King of Eternal life. Give my love to them all, & believe me to be in the bonds of the tenderest & sincerest affection your loving husband.”

Letter Andrew Wylie wrote to Margaret Wylie on May 25th, 1829.

This quote speaks volumes about Andrew Wylie’s strong devotion to God.

For the Wylie family and other nineteenth century Americans, religious faith was a crucial source of comfort. However, it is clear that as the years went on, even Andrew Wylie himself did not completely assuage his grief following the passing of his sons. Andrew Wylie was a man of many talents. He was a minister, professor, president, father, and a laborer. He was an amazing individual who somehow managed all of these roles. But it is clear he faced grief and had problems coping with it just like anyone else.  After Samuel’s death, Andrew writes in a letter to John H. Wylie on January 4th, 1851, “I have begun feel the weight of the years. I eat not with the relish I once enjoyed.” Even through all of this, Andrew Wylie does not forget to remain humble and thankful for all he does have as he says,

“I look back over the varied scenes of a life of toil and care; & can see in the way in which God has led me “these forty”—more than that—“years in the wilderness” much, very very much, for which I ought to be thankful; and also humble.”

In the above passage, Andrew Wylie references Deuteronomy 8:2 which says, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” Andrew Wylie views his troubles and tribulations as a test from God, and his triumph represents his faith and loyalty to God.

The early nineteenth century was a time of much uncertainty. Concepts like vaccination and pasteurization were either still developing or brand new. Many people died at young ages of various diseases like measles, scarlet fever, and consumption (tuberculosis). Infant and child mortality rates were high, and outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, and other fevers were very common. Four of Andrew Wylie’s twelve children died at fairly young ages, and one of them, John Hosea, died of consumption.

All in all, the nineteenth century was a dangerous era to live in. Andrew Wylie’s ninth daughter, Irene Catherine died in 1878 after falling out of a carriage at the age of 49. It is obvious why, in this era, people constantly looked to God for comfort.


[Letters], Wylie Family Correspondences, Collection C203, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington.

Technology and Gossip in the 19th Century

February 25, 2017

by Rachna Chaudhari, Bicentennial Intern, Spring 2017

Letter Andrew Wylie wrote to Samuel T. Wylie. Bloomington, IN, February 21st, 1847. Courtesy, Indiana University Archives Collection C203

These days, it is so easy to find out information. You may even find something you are not looking for! With internet accessibility and everyone posting readily on every social media outlet that is available, it’s simple. The internet is still relatively new, from its birth in the early 1990’s. Before this, people used much slower methods to obtain information, such as paging, telephoning, and letter writing. Going back even farther to the 19th century, the only form of communication that existed was letter writing. The railroad did not arrive to Bloomington until 1853, and so horse and buggy was the method of transportation used to deliver letters.

It can be assumed that gossip was a common theme of the 19th century, as the Wylie family correspondence contained a lot of it. The Wylie gossip varied greatly; from talk about townspeople to talk about other members of the family. Even in the 19th century, daughters were rebelling against their fathers. In one correspondence dated February 21, 1847, Andrew Wylie says, “Irene learns well: but has gone to balls: a thing of which I do not approve.” Irene was the 9th child of Andrew Wylie, and would have been 18 when Andrew wrote that letter to Samuel Theophylact Wylie.

A faster form of communication came about when the Morse telegraph connected Baltimore to Washington, D.C., in 1844. Now, there was a way for people to get in contact with each other quickly when there were emergencies. Telegraphic speech is simple; consisting of only about 3 or more word sentences. It would not have been practical to send long-winded, elaborate messages like the ones seen in the family letters. The telegraph was quickly outshined and became obsolete, however, by other forms of communication like the telephone.

The telephone was not invented until 1876, 25 years after Andrew Wylie had already passed, and so gossiping in the early-mid 19th century was done through letter writing. Gossip may have been a few weeks or even months old (if it got lost on the way) by the time the news got to the recipient. It is hard to imagine receiving news in such a delayed fashion when this day in age, we are constantly being overloaded with new information every few seconds. Often times, letters would be sent, only for the sender to wonder if the recipient still resides in the same dwelling. In those cases, the letter may never reach the recipient, and the news would be lost forever. In one such instance, Margaret Wylie Martin writes in the first sentence to her sister Elizabeth Wylie McCalla, “enclosed I send a letter to bro. Anderson for you to direct as I do not know whether he is still living at Le Roy N.Y. or not.”

Various family members do their fair share of gossiping, from Andrew Wylie to John H. and Elizabeth Wylie. It is refreshing to note that John H. Wylie would not allow himself to gossip about the dead. He wrote to his sister Elizabeth on April 28, 1851; “Poor Sam, when I write of him or speak of him my tears flow—in reading the other day a book entitled “The Reveries of a Bachelor” I met with the following which reads off my own heart so perfectly…’there are some that talk at table and in their gossip, of dead friends; I wonder how they do it; For myself when the grave has closed its gates on the facts of those I love—however busy my mournful thought may be, my tongue is silent. I cannot name their names: it shocks me to hear them named. It seems like tearing open half-healed wounds and disturbing with harsh worldly noise, the sweet sleep of death.’”


History.com Staff. 2009. Morse Code & the Telegraph. A+E Networks. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/inventions/telegraph. Accessed on 23 February 2017.

[Letters], Wylie Family Correspondences, Collection C203, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington.