Hopefully, like me, you have already voted today and are awaiting the results. While we all wait anxiously to hear what the next four years will be like, let me distract you with some good, old fashioned archaeology. In my last blog post, “Let’s Dine …
We’ve been chugging through cataloging the artifacts from the Admin/Gunson assemblage this semester. We should finish unit A sometime next week. This may seem like slow going, but to say that the artifacts are plentiful would be an understatement (6,951 thus far in Unit A with one more level to go!). In addition to the laboratory glass, gendered bottles, medicine bottles, household goods and building material, there are been a large amount of ceramics (which will be discussed later by intern Pa Vang). This isn’t terribly surprising since it is a early 20th century historic site, but the variety in the ceramic has been drastically different than other sites on campus. Only one unit in, we’ve already identified everything from utilitarian granite ware toilet wares, to French porcelain tea cups. One particular potter that has been appearing frequently is the Home Laughlin China Company.
The Homer Laughlin China Company was started in 1896 in East Liverpool, Ohio (it was formally known as just Homer Laughlin from 1877-1896). East Liverpool Ohio was home to many historic potteries, earning it the nickname “Pottery Capital of the World”. Between 1890 and 1940 the East Liverpool pottery district was the largest domestic producer of ceramic toilet and table wares. By 1910 the Homer Laughlin China Company plant was the largest in the world, with a five story building with 15 acres of floor space. The plant was also connected to a 100 acre park with a stream, zoo, formal garden and outdoor theatre. In 1929 the Homer Laughlin China Company operated five plants with a 181-kiln capacity. Peak production was in 1948, when the company produced 10,129,449 dishes. It’s estimated that over 25,000 different patterns have been produced.
The most well known product of the Homer Laughlin China Company is undoubtedly Fiesta ware. Fiesta ware was created by ceramist Frederick Rhead in 1935, and discontinued in 1959. New colors were reintroduced in 1986 to celebrate the lines 50th anniversary, and are still available today.
In addition to household ceramics, the company also produced heavy vitreous ware for restaurants (which are still widely used today). This hotel ware is also present in the Gunson assemblage. We have also found some of the more complicated patterns.
Additional research is necessary, and we look forward to adding more to the Homer Laughlin story as we move through the other units.
William Gates and Dana Ormerod. 1982. The East Liverpool, Ohio Pottery District: Identification of Manufacturers and Marks William Gates and Dana Ormerod Historical Archaeology Vol. 16
The summer field season has continued to be busy. Last Monday, while making our routine monitoring rounds of the North Campus Infrastructure Improvements construction site we noticed a concentration of bricks and dark soil near the Museum. As previously mentioned, the first week of the …
One of the bigger question surrounding the Hannah Admin building assemblage is, “Where in this area could these high quality ceramics have come from?”. They’re nicer than what would have been found in typical student areas, the site is south of faculty row, and they date to a wide time span.
As Kate mentioned in her last blog, during our research we noticed a building in the general area of the current Hannah Admin building that had potential as the ceramics contributor. On maps prior to 1941, campus building no. 63 is labeled as Greenhouse/ Gunson Residence.
However, following Dr. Gunson’s death in 1940, the building changes names to the Anna E. Bayha Home Management House (sometimes also being labeled just Bayha house, or home economics house). According to the August 28, 1941 Board of Trustees Notes it was Dean Dye, of the College of Human Ecology, that proposed to convert the Gunson residence into another home management practice house.
The home management practice houses were designed to give women enrolled in home management courses practical experience with their new skills. The management house system was started in 1916, and as of 1943 there were four of these houses on campus. The original three were in faculty row (#6 Ellen Henrietta Richards home, #5 Maude Gilchrist home, #4 Ethel Gladys Webb home), and the Bayha house was the newest addition.
Each home had an advisor, and seven to eight students who were responsible for taking care of the household. During their eight week stay in the house, the girls were tasked with living on three different levels of food costs; 30 cents per person per day, 50 cents, and lastly 75 cents. The program was designed to give students experience in nutrition, meal planning, cooking, and the daily maintenance of a house. (Source: News Paper Article “Here’s Food Budget of 30 Cents a Day” by Bernice Carlson, State Journal Women’s Writer” no date)
Although maps and financial statements provided important information, Kate and I set off to try to find images of the inside of the home, with the hope that perhaps there were some pictures of the ceramics/dishes used by the women.
Thankfully, we were in luck! The archives have a collection of Home Management House scrapbooks, ranging from 1928 to 1971.
We were even further rewarded when we located the scrapbooks specifically associated with the Bayha Home. Although we have not been able to match specific pieces from the assemblage to the photos, they do show a wide variety of dish wear in use within the home.
Later maps and a President’s report from August 7, 1947 mention that the Bayha house was modified to be used as a nursery school. This change occurred because of the construction of Polacci Hall. This building combined all four of the home management houses into units within a single building. The house remained a nursery until it was razed in late 1953-early 1954 to make room for the new library.
This semester I have been working on analyzing the materials found near the Administration building on campus. This is an interesting assemblage because we have such a large range of materials. We have whiteware, porcelain, stoneware, yellow-ware, glass of all types and metal. Within the …
For the past few weeks the Campus Archaeology fellows completed washing the artifacts recovered from a possible trash pit along the Red Cedar River near the Administration Building and have begun sorting and analyzing the assamblage. This was a particularly exciting find due to its …
Aside from the continuing West Circle Steam Renovation Project, construction around campus this summer has been rather slow. For Campus Archaeology, this means we have spent a lot of time in the lab. While shovel testing around campus is exciting, spending time in the lab, cataloging, organizing, and researching artifacts can be just as fulfilling. We have spent a few weeks now getting to know the artifacts in the lab, in doing so we have had some confusion in identifying ceramics, or the best way to label general ceramics. In an effort to clarify our questions I thought I’d do some research on the hierarchy of ceramics.
The general term “ceramic” can be defined as any inorganic, nonmetallic solid that has been created by the action of heating, then cooling (wikipedia). This definition would include glass as a ceramic, though in terms of archaeological typology it is easier to just call glass, glass…so as not to be confused. While ceramics include industrial material, like brick, piping, electrical conduits, this post focuses on houseware ceramics.
If ceramic is the top tier, the all encompassing term, then “whiteware” is immediately below. Whiteware, can is defined as a ceramic that consists of the three mineral types- clay, silica, and feldspar. The clay acts as the plastic component during the construction process and the solidifying agent in the firing process. The silica (generally in the flint form) gives the whiteware strength, and the feldspar acts as an agent to lower the melting temperature (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/642810/whiteware). Fine whiteware, like porcelain, uses high-quality, pure kaolin clay, that once fired turns white, hence “whiteware.” Kaolin with impurities, like iron oxides, results in gray or tan colors.
Whiteware can be further broken down into several categories: earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. These categories are loosely based on the degree of vitrification of each product; earthenware is nonvitreous and porcelain is vitreous, while stoneware is somewhere in the middle. Degree of vitrification correlates conversely with porosity.
Earthenware also has several subcategories. Some that CAP often comes across are: creamware, pearlware, terracotta, yellowware, and ironstone ware. Creamware is named for its cream color, resulting from the lead glaze. Terracotta (which includes building bricks, and other industrial material) is most easily identified by its bright orange color and its tendency to be unglazed. Ironstone ware gets its namesake from strength. One common type of ironstone we find at CAP is transferware; this is a technique that creates designs using one color against a white background. Yellowware is less commonly found around campus, and is identified by the yellow color resulting from the yellow clays used. Pearlware, is essentially just creamware with cobalt added to the glaze to give it a bluish tint. Unlike creamware, the term pearlware wasn’t used by the manufacturers, pearlware is mainly a designation given by archaeologists and collectors…so it is highly variable.
Stoneware is generally defined by how it differs from earthenware and porcelain. Stoneware is more vitreous than earthenware, but less than porcelain. Stoneware is more opaque than porcelain. It is a very heavy duty ceramic that is named because of the stone-like appearance after firing. There are a variety of stoneware types, but CAP usually finds American Stoneware, which was salt glazed and referred to as “crock” ware.
The final category of ceramics that CAP encounters is porcelain. Porcelain is completely vitrified, not porous, white, translucent, and resonant (unlike other whiteware). Sometimes porcelain is so broadly defined that some stoneware is considered porcelain, but for CAP we have our own way of drawing the line…if the ceramic does NOT stick to your tongue, then it’s porcelain, if it does….then it’s not porcelain.
Anyway, so that is my quick and dirty family tree of ceramics. I’m sure that many of these terms overlap, or may be put into other categories, but this is CAP’s typology system.
If you’ve been following our twitter feed or facebook, you know that we are hard at work surveying beneath the sidewalks around Linton Hall and Beaumont Tower. As part of the campus construction, a majority of the sidewalks within the sacred space are being renovated. …