Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Looking Good at the Fort

Hello everyone! My name is Kaylee Hagemann, I am a Junior at Western Michigan University. I participated in the 2017 field season of the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project last summer. I am currently taking an independent study with Dr. Michael Nassaney, the Project’s Principal Investigator. The independent study involves a careful examination of all the artifacts recovered during the 2017 field season and producing a detailed inventory. We clean, count, and weigh every artifact, and record all the information so we know exactly what was found.

While going through a bag with artifacts from the unit I had excavated, N24 W6, with my pit partner Bryan, Dr. Nassaney and I came across an artifact I had recovered in August, a few days after the annual Open House. The artifact is a complete 18th-century cufflink, or sleeve button. The metal is pewter and contains a glass inset in the middle with brown swirls like a marble. A week later, we found another cufflink that matched the previous cufflink but it is incomplete. Other cufflinks have also been discovered on the Fort St. Joseph site.

The French have always taken great pride in their clothing and personal adornment, so even cufflinks have a history and have changed throughout the past 800 years. In the 13th century, string pins and belts were used instead of buttons to fasten clothing. Later, buttons were used as fasteners when fitted garments became popular. During the Renaissance of the 17th century, decorative lacy cuffs were used. Noblemen used ribbons to tie their cuffs; the elegance of them were a symbol of status in society.  By the late 17th century, ribbons were replaced with jeweled buttons called “sleeve buttons” (also known as cuff links). By the 18th century, buttons became more ornate. A favorite style was to create a miniature painting on the underside or glass (design similar to the specimen found at Fort St. Joseph). These were produced for the elite classes, as their raw materials were expensive and drove production costs up. Starting in the mid-1830s and spanning through the early 1900s, the middle class adopted the use of cufflinks as well. Although they could not afford gems, replicas were made. Rhinestones and pastels were used as fake diamonds, copper and zinc alloy were substituted for gold, and cut steel was used for silver. Cufflinks were in decline once shirts started to come buttons already fashioned in them in the 1970s. Only those who wanted to keep the tradition alive would wear cufflinks.
When French cuff shirts became popular in the 1990s, cufflinks became a mainstream fashion accessory for all ages. With the new fashion trend, the youth were introduced to the adornments of old. Paul Smith and Gucci started to produce cufflinks that were fashionable by today’s standards, bringing something that once seen as high-end to the mainstream. Once viewed as a formal jeweled accessory, cufflinks became accessories for both men and women to express style individuality.

Adornment and clothing has always been an important aspect of communication in civilizations. Since clothing decays, the only adornment left to study are objects made from stones, metals, glass, etc. that have stood the test of time. Archaeologists study adornment because it is a way to infer gender, status, politics, prestige, occupation, and religion through material in the absence of written documents. In this case, we know that the cufflinks were worn by middle and upper-class persons. Studying adornment can not only assist in the study for a specific archaeological site, but can also be useful to show the evolution of fashion and, depending on the times, the messages they communicate to the public. After all, adornment style is repetitive and trends have a way of coming back around.
- Kaylee

Friday, December 15, 2017

2017: Another Year for the Books

Hello everyone! My name is Hailey, I’m a senior at WMU majoring in anthropology, and I have been working as an independent study student under Dr. Nassaney this semester. My primary task for the past several months has been coordinating the construction of the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project’s annual report. The annual report is, in essence, a summary of all the work that has been done in the past year.  The report will feature sections about the 2017 field season, this year’s lab procedures and activities, the public education and outreach events that the Project has organized throughout 2017, and the theme of the annual Archaeology Open House – community partnerships. The annual report is the Project’s chance to make sure that the public, and the community partners who make the archaeology possible, are up to date on the work being done and the most recent findings.

Meghan and I at this past year's annual Archaeology
Open House. The Open House was the culmination of the
2017 field work and will be outlined extensively in the report.
2017 has been a busy year for the Project. Several new features were found in the 2017 field season, community partners continued to support the Project, and many people learned about the history of Fort St. Joseph via the social media and public outreach efforts undertaken this year. The annual report will make it clear what exactly the Project has been up to for the past year and leave readers with a better idea of what the future may hold for archaeology at Fort St. Joseph. Stay tuned for the annual report! It will be posted on the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project’s website:
- Hailey

Monday, December 4, 2017

Public Outreach Off-Season

Hello All, my name is Genevieve (Genna) Perry and I have continued my position as the Fort St. Joseph Intern this year. I have been with the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project since 2015 and it has been a great pleasure to watch students as they evolve from new archaeologists that have difficulty distinguishing a rock from a stone flake or a piece of a clay pipe from calcined bone, to becoming those that teach others about these things. Thankfully, many of these new teachers of archaeology also continue on to do lab work in the off-season. Apart from artifact analysis, inventory, digitizing field-notes, artifact photography, and creation of promotional documents, the other essential part to being a lab student is helping keep our public outreach alive. 
Students Meghan and Hailey talking to
Michigan Archaeology Day visitors
We attend several events through-out the year to help educate others, especially children, about archaeology and Fort St. Joseph. This semester, we attended two of those events. One of which was Michigan Archaeology Day, which is held in Lansing, MI at the Michigan Historical Museum. This event hosts projects and universities from around the state to focus on and highlight the archaeology that is being done at the local level. This year, a record 1,400 people attended the event. We were able to bring our “Recent Finds” artifact case, the updated site map, the introductory Open House banner, a slideshow demonstrating field activities, flyers and brochures. We interacted with people of all ages, educating them about the specific archaeology that we do at Fort St. Joseph and getting them interested in the various ways we integrate the public during the field season. The event usually takes place at the end of October; stay updated on our social media to find out when it will be held in 2018 and we will see you there! 
Students Kaylee, Meghan, and Hailey teaching Lake
Center Elementary Students about stratigraphy as they
color their artifacts during I <3 STEM Night
The other public outreach event that we participated in this year was Portage Lake Center Elementary I <3 STEM Night. This event hosts multiple STEM programs from Western Michigan University and around the state, such as WMU Chem Club, WMU Engineers, Home Depot, MDOT, KAMSC, Best Buy, Air Zoo, Eaton, among many others. We interacted with children K-5, teaching them about the importance of stratigraphy (layers of soil) and where we might expect to find certain artifacts. We also brought along our “Recent Finds” artifact case, slide show, and brochures to educate parents about Fort St. Joseph. The Project is extremely fortunate to have an active role in not only the community of Niles, but in the community of Kalamazoo as well. A vital component to public archaeology is maintaining a presence within the community to help keep local history in the forefront of peoples’ minds. Stay tuned to hear about the many other events that we will attend in the spring semester, such as WMU’s MLK Career Cruising Event and the annual El Sol Elementary visit to the Anthropology Department! Thank you all for following along with us throughout this semester, we appreciate your support and hope to see you all in the summer!

-       - Genna