Organizing Deschutes Artifact Collections
Deschutes National Forest, Oregon, 1998
by Leslie Hickerson, FS Archaeologist
“Ninety-eight boxes of artifacts on the racks, 98 boxes of artifacts; take one down, pass it around, 97 boxes of artifacts on the racks.” This is the refrain that comes to mind when I look back on the accomplishment of six wonderful volunteers and a couple of FS archaeologists in a mere 35 hours.
This project was a continuation of our winter 1996 PIT project, when we moved the collections from the local historical society museum to a FS warehouse. Having forewarned all of the volunteers of our rather primitive work area (uninsulated and unheated), we spent the first morning moving the FS field equipment out of the collections area. Once that was accomplished, we rolled the overhead door closed, turned on the “hot blast” diesel heater, and went to work.
All pertinent information from each old box was accurately and legibly transferred to the lid and side of a new one. Transfer of bags was methodical, so that we could count the number of items in each box. The keen minds of these volunteers and the questions they posed were a good lead-in to explaining the various numbering systems used on the forest since the late 1970s. Various excavation strategies, what a unit is, what a level is, how not to label a bag or artifact, and how to set up an excavation unit were all subjects of our discussions and, at times, entertainment!
By the end of the project, we had 98 newly labeled and organized boxes of artifacts—a fine accomplishment. Thanks to Frank and Suellen Crosser, Bill and Ruth Bancroft, Barbara Arthur, and Marilyn Busse for a great PIT project. We couldn’t have done it without you! Additional help came from Deschutes Heritage Team members Don Zettel, Paul Claeyssens, Lucy Hamilton, and Chris Lips comb. Now all we need to do is get all of the collections cataloged! But that’s a future project and another story.