The Kitchen Girls: Getting to Know Female Campus Employees in the 1860s (Part 1)

Saint's Rest Boarding Hall circa 1865. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Saint’s Rest Boarding Hall circa 1865. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Michigan State University is a big place. Today the main campus is over 5,200 acres, there are 545 buildings, and over 50,000 students. Campus is essentially its own little city and there’s a large work force of approximately 6,800 support staff employees that work around the clock to make things run smoothly. In the early years of the campus, although the campus size and student body were much smaller, a large staff was still necessary to run the college. We’ve been able to do extensive research on experiences of the early faculty and students, but finding information on the employees is more difficult because their experience is often missing from the historical and archaeological record.

As part of the ongoing food reconstruction project, I’ve been going through the Saint’s Rest boarding hall receipt books with Susan Kooiman and Autumn Beyer at the MSU Archives. While recording the 1866-1867 book I noticed some purchases that didn’t quite maker sense; corsets, garters, ribbon, parasols, hoops skirts, etc. Each was associated with a woman’s name. Female students weren’t officially admitted to the university until 1870, so who were these women showing up in the boarding hall account books?

Boarding Hall Receipt 1866 showing purchases of hoop skirt, belt riot and shoes. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections.

Boarding Hall Receipt from 1866 showing purchases of hoop skirt, belt riot and shoes. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections.

I think that they were the employees of the boarding hall.

Before going through this receipt book we only knew of them through brief mentions in other archival material. In his essay “The Dawn of Michigan Agricultural College” James Gunnison, a member of the inaugural class of 1861, mentions that boys used the parlor (in Saint’s Rest) to visit with the “dining-room girls” (UA 17.107 Box 1140 Folder 8). A 1859 letter notes that the following women were employed at the boarding hall: 2 girls to do the laundry, 2 women as cooks, 1 women in the kitchen to wash dishes and do other odd jobs, 2 girls in the dining room to serve, 1 girl for “chamber work”, and 1 girl for the general washing, washing towels for the washing room, and making candles (Madison Kuhn Collection 17.107 Box 1141 Folder 66). Thankfully now we have identifies for at least 33 of the women that worked at the boarding hall in 1866:

  • Mary Bage
  • Mary Bates
  • Ellen Connor
  • Susan Connor
  • Mary Gannon
  • Matilda Gidley
  • Phobe Gidley
  • Mariah Horbeck
  • Martha King
  • Maria Martin
  • Annie Martin
  • Jane Phillips
  • Adelade Place
  • Mary Roller
  • Rachel Roller
  • Lovina Shattuck
  • Barbary Stabler
  • Jane Trembly
  • Mattie Trevallee
  • Pamelia Trevallee
  • Angie Trevallee
  • Millie Trevallee
  • Mollie Trevallee
  • Malvina Trevler
  • Pamelia Trevler
  • Delia Tyler
  • Lucinda Van Horn
  • Susan Wilson
  • Matilda Wilson
  • Mary Young
  • Mollie Young
  • Jennie Young
  • Agusta Young

The 1859 letter indicates that at least 9 women at a time were employed at the boarding hall, and as enrollment grew it’s logical to assume that more women were hired to work on campus. The receipt book also notes when employees left for a period of time, and when new ones began working.

Unfortunately the timing of the employment records, 1866, makes it a little difficult to track down more information on these specific individuals. The 1860 Michigan census can be a bit sketchy, and by 1870 many of these women may have moved out of the area, or gotten married and thus changed their last name (although Pamelia Trevallee appears in the 1870 census still working as a domestic servant in the boarding hall (spelled Travailla in the census)). Most likely these women were in their late teens or early 20s when employed by the university, further complicating finding them by traditional genealogical means (Pamelia Trevallee is 21 in the 1870 census, making her 17 in the 1866 book). Interestingly many of these women share the same last night, suggesting that they are related.

April 1866 - showing purchases and being marked paid. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

April 1866 – showing purchases and being marked paid. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

In the mid 1860s there were approximately 100 students on campus, so why was there the need for so many female employees at the boarding hall (there are male laborers listed in the receipt book but that is a blog for another day). We need to remember that housework in the 19th century was incredibly laborious and highly gender specific.

April 1866 - Barbery Stabler began work at a rate of $2.50 per week. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

April 1866 – Barbery Stabler began work at a rate of $2.50 per week. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

The women were being paid $2.00 – $2.50 per week for their work. It appears the room and board was also included as part of their employment. What I’m seeing in the receipt books appears to be purchases/charges employees made against their weekly payroll. At the end of every month the accounts are balanced, with any remaining money being paid out to the individual.  For example Millie Trevallee charges $11.28 in May and $4.05 in June and is paid $4.90 at the end of June, balancing the ~$20 she would have made for two months work.

These receipt books provide a unique glimpse into the lives of female university employees in the 1860s. Stay turned for The Kitchen Girls Part 2 next week where I will explore the fashionable purchases they were making.

References:

Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections:

UA 17.107 Box 1140 Folder 8

Madison Kuhn Collection 17.107 Box 1141 Folder 66

UA 17.107 Box 2461 Item #40

United States Census 1870 State of Michigan, Ingham County, Town of Meridian schedule 1, page 30

https://msu.edu/about/thisismsu/facts.html

Done Up and Polished: The Brief History of a Nail Polish Topper

The Gunson/Admin assemblage continues to reveal gendered historical items linked to early females on campus. Most recently, Lisa Bright alerted me to the presence of a glass nail polish bottle stopper in the collection.

Dr. Jay Parker Pray Bottle Top - Gunson Unit D

Dr. Jay Parker Pray Bottle Top – Gunson Unit D

Luckily, the logo remains intact and, after some Googling, it was determined to be manufactured by the Dr. J. Parker Pray Company (established 1868). The New York City based company specialized in manicure and medicinal goods. Dr. Parker Pray began his career as a chiropodist, a hand and foot doctor, before transitioning into selling ladies’ cosmetic products.

In 1874, Dr. Parker Pray met Mary E. Cobb who had moved to New York City following the end of the Civil War. The two married that same year and Mary allegedly went to France shortly after to be trained in the techniques of manicure (1). Although Mary learned the traditional French manicure method, American women at the time did not greatly desire the French style. In 1878, she opened Mrs. Pray’s Manicure shop in New York City where she practiced a revised process of manicure that modern women are familiar with today (2). By all accounts, the shop and manufacturing businesses were wildly successful and the Prays are even credited with the invention of the emory board.

After the couple divorced in 1884, Mary returned to her maiden name and invested her energy into the expansion of her business through mail order and increased retail exposure (1). Mary even began to train women in the manicurist trade so that they could secure independent income. By 1900, Mary was in charge of one of the largest female-owned business operations in the world (as well as the largest manufacturer of pink and red nail polish) (1).

Boxes containing the polish were sold for 25 and 50 cents (3). While the bottle has not yet been found in the assemblage, just the discovery of the top is pretty cool! I was not able to secure dates (besides post-1868), but if the bottle is recovered we may be able to determine better manufacturing dates. If only Mary Cobb could have seen the variety of polish colors worn by women on campus today!

Dr. J Parker Pray Ad Circa 1905 - Source

Dr. J Parker Pray Ad Circa 1905 – Source

 

SOURCES:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_E._Cobb
  2. http://blackcatnails.com/nails-story-modern-manicure-book-review/
  3. https://books.google.com/books?id=1zrnAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA109&lpg=PA109&dq=dr.+j+parker+pray+manicure+bottle&source=bl&ots=8icjsRHIsg&sig=I7hv_6vcKneI84-XDFSVhVK5Mt0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiep-m61LbKAhWmsIMKHQRaCtUQ6AEITjAK#v=onepage&q=dr.%20j%20parker%20pray%20manicure%20bottle&f=false

Gunson House / Bayha Home Management House

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.

1924 Campus Map Greenhouse

Map of Campus by T. Glenn Phillips March 1924 – Courtesy of MSU Archives

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.

Bayha House photo

Scrapbook photo of the Bayha House – Courtesy of MSU Archives

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.

Scrapbook Title Page

Bayha Scrapbook Title Page – Courtesy of MSU Archives

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.

Scrapbook photo

Scrapbook photo of dinner setting – Courtesy of MSU Archive

Bayha house having tea

Women having tea/coffee – Courtesy of MSU Archive

Corner cabinet china

Corner cabinet with China – Courtesy of MSU Archive

Bayha serving cake

Bayha women serving cake – Courtesy of MSU Archive

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.

Identifying Gendered Space in MSU’s Past

For the past several months, CAP fellow Amy Michael and I have been preparing a presentation for the UMass Amherst Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values conference

Makeup containers found at Brody Complex

Makeup containers found at Brody Complex

about gendered landscapes on MSU’s campus. What is a gendered landscape, you ask? A landscape can be considered “gendered” if there are discrete areas where accessibility is restricted between women and men. The purpose of our presentation is to determine whether or not we can predict which spaces on campus were used and maintained specifically by women using archaeological material recovered during CAP excavations. In addition to physical artifacts like shoes, buttons, and perfume bottles, we have utilized archival materials such as photographs, journals, and scrapbooks created by female students and preserved at MSU’s University Archives.

It is difficult to accurately identify gendered space based solely on material evidence. This is due mostly to the fact that the campus itself has changed considerably over time. That is, artifacts that may be associated with a gendered space are not necessarily recovered from those areas restricted to gendered use. To date, that vast majority of archaeological evidence for gender has been recovered from trash pits and shovel test sites. Because these assemblages are comprised of discarded materials, it is impossible to determine where they came from and therefore, impossible to predict which artifacts could be associated with a specific space on campus.

Women pose at the WWII Victory Garden, circa 1940s. courtesy MSU Archives

Women pose at the WWII Victory Garden, circa 1940s. courtesy MSU Archives

Archival evidence has allowed us to determine which areas of campus were frequented by women such as Morrill Hall. Morrill Hall was originally used as a women’s dormitory, as well as holding classes and a gymnasium. Photographic evidence and student journals have informed us that other areas, such as the Victory Gardens and the Red Cedar River were commonly used as meeting places for female students. Artifact evidence from these areas is lacking, however, due to the demolition of Morrill Hall, cleaning of the landscape around the Victory Gardens, and natural processes such as erosion along the banks of the Red Cedar River.

Morrill Hall, early 1900s. Courtesy MSU Archives

Morrill Hall, early 1900s. Courtesy MSU Archives

One issue we seek to address is to determine how the overlapping or intrusion of female spaces into areas traditionally reserved for male students affected interactions between women and men on campus. What were the reactions to these changing landscapes? Further, we seek to understand whether female students largely remained in those areas reserved specifically for them, or if there were alternative opportunities for wider access to campus (even in the face of university or social restrictions). Finally, we hope to identify and understand which types of material evidence, if any, recovered by Campus Archaeology can be considered gendered.

#womendigging

On November 24th, Turkey’s president Erdogan declared that women are not equal to men. However, the specific statement that rung across the archaeological community was “You cannot tell them [women] to go out and dig the soil. This is against their delicate nature”. Archaeologists, both male and female, responded on Twitter almost immediately, starting the #womendigging trend. Many, including CAP members, posted photographs of themselves in action.

 

Although the trend has slowed down, people are still posting #womendigging photos, and CAP is proud to continue the trend. So now we’re proud to present a few images from women digging through CAP history:

More mapping

2008- Jane W. and Jen B. map a different wall at Faculty Row.

STP 1

2009 – Erica digs the first Shovel Test Pit

P1010600

2010-

IMG_0081

2011 –

P1011619

2012 –

Saints Rest Rescue 2

2013 – Saints Rest Rescue 2, Trench 1, cleaning plaster floor off

Old Vet Lab Excavation

2014 – Old Vet Lab Excavation: Led by Kate, Team includes Adrianne, Katy, Josh and Ian

 

Breaking All (or some of!) the Rules: Finding Subversion in the Historical Record

As I’ve researched female students on the historical campus this past semester, I keep finding that humor and resiliency are recurring themes in their scrapbooks and journals. Interestingly, it seems that the mechanism of humor may have been used to deflect contentious attitudes about the female presence on a campus that had been historically male-oriented until the university began systematically admitting women in 1896 (female students were allowed on campus as early as 1870, but lack of academic programs and boarding quelled enrollment numbers).

Feronian Society. Courtesy MSU Archives

Feronian Society. Courtesy MSU Archives

Of course, it should come as no shock that female students have always been funny, creative, engaged, and productive in college life at MSU, but I think that sometimes we gloss over the past with a broad brush, believing that women only studied certain subjects, moved about in certain areas, and kept to certain codes. Not so!

The records kept by the Women’s Student Council from 1917-1934 show many infractions by women who must have been determined to buck some of the traditional standards that applied to them and not to male students. Interestingly, the first order of business called at the first Women’s Student Council meeting was a request by the female senior students to be afforded the same privileges as the male students on campus. It appears that these women understood the university process, and formed their council in response to growing enrollment numbers and desires to have more active voices on campus. Just one month after formation of the council, there is a record detailing a combined meeting of the women’s and men’s councils along with notes about the university president calling meetings to order.

Courtesy MSU Archives

Courtesy MSU Archives

Clearly the council was laying down roots and had the clout to be taken seriously on campus, approximately twenty years after women began enrolling en masse. Rules, proposed and accepted by the council in 1919 demonstrate that was a clear emphasis on honor, conduct, and morality that was directly tied to how women should behave around men; females were given rules regarding calling hours and were expressly not allowed to walk off campus with a male student.

Feronian Society Rules. Courtesy MSU Archives

Feronian Society Rules. Courtesy MSU Archives

It’s hard to conceptualize these rules today, but I believe that female students subverted some of this university and cultural authority by creating humorous takes on their situations. A females literary club, the Feronian Society, listed these tongue in cheek rules for women on campus in the 1905 Gluck Auf manuscript:

 

 

 

 

 

Pieces of the Past: Women’s Scrapbooks from the Turn of the Century

In my last blog, I shared a portion of the draft that I’m working on about gendered spaces on campus. The most challenging part of the project thus far has been isolating documents, folders, or ephemera in the University Archives that can inform the research goal. This is a truly piecemeal endeavor: a pamphlet outlining a women’s course filed away in a binder about an old building, a receipt detailing the funds raised for a women’s club, a stack of old photos documenting female students gathered for a social event, and so on.

This week, I decided to focus on the scrapbooks compiled by female students during and after their terms at Michigan Agricultural College. Scrapbooks are probably one of the most direct examples of how memories are constructed and reinforced in later years; that is, some scraps are worth saving while others go the way of the landfill. A number of the scrapbooks have similar themes – dance cards, tickets to fancy parties, letters from prominent persons, and photos of friends were obviously deemed worth saving, documenting, and revering for future descendants or university alumni (depending on the intended audience for the scrapbooks!). I was struck by some omissions that I thought would be quite common: grade reports, written assignments, awards. Perhaps these materials were saved separately and never made it to the University Archives. Or, maybe these items were considered simply part and parcel of the college experience and not thought special enough to enter into a scrapbook.

Of the scrapbooks I viewed this week, I noted that “literary clubs” were popular among female students at the turn of the century. There were many invitations and announcements for literary club events that led me to some obvious questions: How many literary clubs were there? Were any of the clubs co-ed? What benefit did the clubs have for participants?

I have a few answers, though I believe these clubs (and others that are restricted to females only) are worth pursuing in greater detail for my project. In the 1905 Gluck Auf, a compendium of class rosters, clubs, faculty sketches, poems, messages from alumni, etc., there are 11 literary societies listed with four of these being female societies (there were no co-ed literary societies). I found some of the missions of the societies quite interesting, so I will reproduce brief descriptions below:

Feronian Society – The first society to be organized by two female students in 1893. The “purpose in view was to advance the intellectual, social, and moral standing of its members, to train mind, heart, and soul.” In 1901, rooms in the Women’s Building were given to the society for club use.

Themian Society – The society was organized in 1898 by female students who saw the need for another club. Irma Thompson is credited as being the driving force behind the creation of the Themians (I’ve written about Ms. Thompson in a previous CAP blog post – she’s one of my personal heroines!). This club aligned itself with the Oratorical Association and took home first place in 1905. The “constitutional object of the society is to promote the literary and social culture of its members, but the world Themian stands for more than this. We, its members, interpret its meaning as true loyalty to each other, and justice and friendship to all.”

Sororian Society – This club was initiated in 1902 by women who noted that attendance in the Women’s Course had increased such that only a small percentage of students could enter existing societies. “The aim of the Sororian Society is to perfect the intellectual and social faculties and thus develop that well rounded character which is the best product of college life.”

Ero Alphian Society – Formed in 1904, this club name means “love of the first, the highest, the best. “So, through the course in our college, we meet and pass one another, scarcely realizing the depth of character of those about us, until closer ties of friendship bind one to another. Knowing the importance of this, and the need of another society to promoste the growth of friendship and the development of literary and social talents, the Ero Alphian Society was formed.”

Gendered Spaces: Howard Terrace and Human Ecology

As part of CAP’s ongoing project of understanding gendered spaces on campus, I thought it would be interesting to look at a building that was built with gendered space in mind. The Human Ecology building, which today houses departments like Human Development and Family Studies, was originally constructed for the goal of teaching women their role in society. The history of the current Human Ecology building and the apartments before it help to tell many stories, including the sometimes forgotten tale of women at MSU.

In 1888, a faculty apartment building was built, the tenth building on Faculty Row.  It had eight suites for faculty and their small families.  It was later named Howard Terrace, after Sanford Howard, the fourth Secretory of the Board of Agriculture.

Howard Terrace, 1904. Courtesy MSU Archives

Howard Terrace, 1904. Courtesy MSU Archives

The college first began admitting women in 1870, but didn’t have any dorms for them.  They mostly had to live in Lansing and go to the college by stagecoach, which is quite a far cry from today, where young female students can sometimes take a five minute walk to their classes in their pajamas!  Morrill Hall was built in 1900 for use as a women’s dorm, which saved plenty of hassle.  It was not enough, however.  Howard Terrace began housing female students as early as 1898, and became exclusively a women’s dorm in 1914.

For the first twenty or so years of women being at the college, they took the same classes as the men.  In 1896, a “women’s course,” or Home Economics (a term coined in 1902), was added thanks to the advocacy of Mary Mayo.  MAC was one of the first in the country to implement such a program.  It began housed in Abbot Hall and then Morrill Hall, but as the program grew, it needed to move.  Howard Terrace was demolished at some point in the early 1920s to make room for a new Home Economics building.  The Home Economics program had a broader scope than one usually thinks of a Home Economics program.  Dean Jean Krueger said in 1926 that “We are not concerned now so much with the actual machinery of living, the perfection of the skills involved in the sewing of a ‘fine seam,’ or the making of a delicious pie, as we are in the psychological, sociological and economic adjustments of family groups to present day and future needs.”

Women's sewing class, 1909. Courtesy MSU Archives

Women’s sewing class, 1909. Courtesy MSU Archives

In 1970, the college was renamed as the College of Human Ecology and drastically changed in focus.  The more drastic change, however, happened in 2005, over 100 years after the creation of the program.  The program was eliminated.

The building, of course, still stands.  The beautiful brick Collegiate Gothic structure next to the MSU Union reminds us of how far women have come at MSU.  From a farm boy college without a lady in sight, to a college where women could learn about how to fill their domestic role in society, to a globally recognized university where women can major in anything a man can, and choose to spend their summers digging holes and doing research instead of cooking and cleaning.

 

 

http://archives.msu.edu/collections/home_economics.php

http://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/howard-terrace.htm

http://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/home-economics.htm

http://campusarch.wikispaces.com/Howard+Terrace+Apartments+1888+-+%3F

Beauty Demolished, But Never Forgotten

 

 

Archmamas: Archaeology, Motherhood, and Path to PhD

By Blair Zaid

The roles for women in the academy are ever expanding. We continue to achieve high levels positions in institutions that have been exceptionally male dominated.  However, one role continues to be a bit daunting for women in the academy and particularly archaeology: the role of mother. The combination of archaeology and motherhood raise important issues on the path to academic success. Few fields are as physically demanding and require such “on the ground” living experiences that can rightfully intimidate a childbearing woman. Also, the extended time in the field affects all of us, but it does have a significant impact on even the most basic childcare recommendations such as breastfeeding and vaccination schedules. So given the complexities of the concerns on a field full of intelligent and capable women, why are we so silent about our maternal experiences?

Motherhood in archaeology is like any excavation, scratch beyond the surface and there are many sources of inspiration! In, 2008 SAA published their latest special edition issue examining the status of women in archaeology and our departments very own Dr. O’Gorman and Dr. Norder contribute to the conversation (Vol. 8 Num. 4). The articles on childcare and the affects of motherhood on our careers offer great insight but little hope to having a ‘successful’ archaeological career once you become a parent. Nonetheless, when we talk to our advisers they share their stories about climbing ancient monuments 8 months pregnant or rushing to their hooding ceremonies with babies on the way! So luckily we are faced with some very positive examples of mama archaeologists. However the question remains, what are some concrete ways that motherhood affects us?

One experience I shared with a number of my colleagues is what I call “a crash of confidence.” While this is similar and almost a crucial point in graduate education in general, once again there is a special shadow that hovers when a women decides to extend her family during her graduate or pre-tenure phase of work. I have been blessed with a child, and as a first time mother, the experience is both life enhancing and life altering.  In many ways my daughters arrival was perfect, yet she also came smack in the middle of my dual degree graduate program and dissertation planning.  I had just survived taking one comprehensive exam while actively planning my wedding.  Pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood have made such normal activities as basic concentration and organization especially difficult, much less reading, processing, and taking notes for research. While some of my insecurities are self inflicted symptoms of an ‘overachiever,’ the academy’s mixed emotions about my path to motherhood was at times less than supportive, especially as a graduate student. At times I considered smaller local projects or even no field work at all. But, I knew that those choices would inhibit my growth as a mother not just an archaeologist.

So, how do you beat this ‘crash of confidence’? We needed to SPEAK UP! Ask for help! The myth of the “how does she do it woman” does more to hurt new mothers than save us. Ask for more time from work, be honest about your levels of exhaustion, and need for child care and health benefits. This puts all our concerns out in the open and then no one is left wondering about or concerns or motives. While speaking up can help us achieve practical support from those around us, we also need to hear the support of other arch-mamas and not just in whispers between meetings. We need spaces to share our triumphs and sorrows and especially a space for us to gather and support each other through the process.

The affects of motherhood on one’s archaeological career are almost immeasurable. The choice to start a family through marriage or expand it with children is often met with sympathy and disappointment, as if making these choices splotches your career. While you may decide to delay your fieldwork, bring your family into international lands, or whatever, the insight motherhood brings is also a strong contribution to our work, even though we only speak about it in the acknowledgements. However, those of us that have the choice and opportunity to have children know that the joys of raising a child come in an endless variety of laughter, pain, and sometimes just plain old silliness. Even as I type this on my laptop a little baby hand reaches out to help press the buttons. As our presence in the field continues to increase, the conversation about the totality of woman’s experiences both in the field and at home, will only enhance our field and the full richness of archaeology.

In conclusion, we know that you really only read this for cute baby pictures so here you go!

Archmamas: Archaeology, Motherhood, and Path to PhD

Part II: By Blair Zaid and Erica Dziedzic

     The roles for women in the academy are ever expanding. We continue to achieve high levels positions in institutions that have been exceptionally male dominated.  However, one role continues to be a bit daunting for women in the academy and particularly archaeology: the role of mother. The combination of archaeology and motherhood raise important issues on the path to academic success. Few fields are as physically demanding and require such “on the ground” living experiences that can rightfully intimidate a childbearing woman. Also, the extended time in the field affects all of us, but it does have a significant impact on even the most basic childcare recommendations such as breastfeeding and vaccination schedules. So given the complexities of the concerns on a field full of intelligent and capable women, why are we so silent about our maternal experiences?

Motherhood in archaeology is like any excavation, scratch beyond the surface and there are many sources of inspiration! In, 2008 SAA published their latest special edition issue examining the status of women in archaeology and our departments very own Dr. O’Gorman and Dr. Norder contribute to the conversation (Vol. 8 Num. 4). The articles on childcare and the affects of motherhood on our careers offer great insight but little hope to having a ‘successful’ archaeological career once you become a parent. Nonetheless, when we talk to our advisers they share their stories about climbing ancient monuments 8 months pregnant or rushing to their hooding ceremonies with babies on the way! So luckily we are faced with some very positive examples of mama archaeologists. However the question remains, what are some concrete ways that motherhood affects us?

One experience we both seemed to share is what we call “a crash of confidence.” While this is similar and almost a crucial point in graduate education in general, once again there is a special shadow that hovers when a woma n decides to extend her family during her graduate or pre-tenure phase of work. As these two blogs attempt to lift our collective voices as mothers, we share our voices both collectively and individually:

I have been blessed with a child, and as a first time mother, the experience is both life enhancing and life altering.  In many ways my daughters arrival was perfect, yet she also came smack in the middle of my dual degree graduate program and dissertation planning.  I had just survived taking one comprehensive exam while actively planning my wedding.  Pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood have made such normal activities as basic concentration and organization especially difficult, much less reading, processing, and taking notes for research. While some of my insecurities are self inflicted symptoms of an ‘overachiever,’ the academy’s mixed emotions about my path to motherhood was at times less than supportive, especially as a graduate student. At times I considered smaller local projects or even no field work at all. But, I knew that those choices would inhibit my growth as a mother not just an archaeologist.

So, how do you beat this ‘crash of confidence’? We needed to SPEAK UP! Ask for help! The myth of the “how does she do it woman” does more to hurt new mothers than save us. Ask for more time from work, be honest about your levels of exhaustion, and need for child care and health benefits. This puts all our concerns out in the open and then no one is left wondering about or concerns or motives. Once during a committee meeting, when one of Erica’s professors were discussing how much work she needed to accomplish and according to a particular deadline, she responded by saying that while she agreed with them, she couldn’t afford the childcare that this work would require.  Her major professor responded while finding her a small job that allows her to work from home and will enable her to save some money for daycare.  Her professors never would have known she needed help if she didn’t say anything and they have been very supportive so far. While speaking up can help us achieve practical support from those around us, we also need to hear the support of other arch-mamas and not just in whispers between meetings. We need spaces to share our triumphs and sorrows and especially a space for us to gather and support each other through the process.

The affects of motherhood on one’s archaeological career are almost immeasurable. The choice to start a family through marriage or expand it with children is often met with sympathy and disappointment, as if making these choices splotches your career. While you may decide to delay your fieldwork, bring your family into international lands, or whatever, the insight motherhood brings is also a strong contribution to our work, even though we only speak about it in the acknowledgements. However, those of us that have the choice and opportunity to have children know that the joys of raising a child come in an endless variety of laughter, pain, and sometimes just plain old silliness. Even as I type this on my laptop a little baby hand reaches out to help press the buttons. As our presence in the field continues to increase, the conversation about the totality of woman’s experiences both in the field and at home, will only enhance our field and the full richness of archaeology.

In conclusion, we know that you really only read this for cute baby pictures so here you go!

kiwi working photo kiwi arch photo 20140122_151734