Monthly Archives: December 2015

Box Us In! Abbot Academy Association Funds Archival Boxes for Peabody Collections

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Peabody archaeology collections storage will undergo an ambitious upgrade made possible by a grant from the Abbot Academy Association, continuing Abbot’s tradition of boldness, innovation, and caring. The Peabody Museum received $45,746 to fund 3,000 archival boxes to replace deteriorating wooden drawers where collections are currently housed. Boxes eliminate contamination from wood debris in addition to improving accessibility and portability. Heavy or large artifacts such as stone axes and ceramic vessels will be stored on open shelving.

The project will be split over three years and will use the museum’s existing workforce of Phillips Academy work duty students, college interns, and adult and student volunteers guided by the collections management team of Marla Taylor and Bonnie Sousa. Archival boxes are a first step in a broader collections storage plan to consolidate museum collections and improve environmental conditions.

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Stay Woke: Finding Prejudice in the Research Process

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Contributed by Lindsay Randall

Stay Woke: Deriving from “stay awake,” to stay woke is to keep informed of what going on around you in times of turmoil and conflict, specifically on occasions when the media is being heavily filtered.

In the past few years, the Peabody Museum has collaborated with members of the Phillips Academy community on projects that not only have benefited the Academy’s students, but also have allowed us as professionals to learn new ways to look at a variety of topics and issues that are beyond our areas of expertise.

For example, recently the Peabody partnered with the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library to create a 50-minute workshop for students that will be part of the school’s programming for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January. The process we followed in developing this workshop was quite interesting, since the way in which librarians Liza Oldham, Beth Tompkins, and Stephanie Aude view or think about issues is very different from how I approach the same topics. It was exciting to sit together, throw ideas around, and build on one another’s suggestions to create a workshop that will enlighten and engage PA students.

We began our development process by agreeing on the focus of the workshop: digital landscapes (the librarians’ expertise), with a particular emphasis on Native Americans (my expertise). Then we began generating ideas. One was to concentrate on the issue of mascots or native people as costumes. Another was to focus on how Native Americans are represetneted in the media. Next, Stephanie mentioned it would be interesting to investigate how subjects are tagged in blogs or other online resources. From there, Beth started talking about how the Library of Congress tags subjects and mentioned some that she felt were problematic.

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Librarians Liza Oldham and Beth Tompkins and I meeting 

I then brought up a Google image search activity that I had performed with students regarding how native people are perceived. If you enter “African American,” “Asian American,” or almost any other racial group as a search term in Google, you will receive contemporary photos. If you enter “Native American” as a search term, most of the images you will receive are from the 1800s. This means the manner in which Google generates its images, although unintentional, reinforces the damaging belief that native people only live in the past and do not exist today.

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Screen grab of Google image search for “African American

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Screen grab of Google image search for “Native American”

After conducting additional Google image searches and looking at some of the search terms or categories in the Library of Congress, we decided to focus the workshop on how digital resources related to Native Americans were categorized and grouped, and compared that to other groups. Approaching race in the United States in this manner seamlessly melded our two areas of focus into a simple yet cutting-edge way to look at race in our society. Such a multifaceted approach and understanding of the complexities of race in the United States and elsewhere is critical for our students to have if they are to become global citizens.

Here is the description of our workshop that the Office of Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD; https://www.andover.edu/StudentLife/CAMD/Pages/default.aspx) will be sharing campus wide in its MLK Jr. Day programming materials:

Stay Woke: Finding Prejudice in the Research Process 

Contemporary prejudice is often insidious. It doesn’t announce itself with a clear sign – “Look at this clearly defined racism!” – but rather creeps in, makes itself at home, and becomes such a part of everyday life that it’s hard to see. Understanding the prejudices that are built into the digital and organizational landscapes we use constantly, like Google and libraries, is vital to modern ethical development. Through hands-on activities and discussions, participants will begin to explore the complex issues surrounding this topic and improve their awareness and digital literacy.

We are very excited to run this workshop, and I look forward to sharing more about it and its outcomes with everyone in January!

2014–2015 Annual Report Available Online

The Peabody Museum’s annual report for academic year 2014–2015 was published in November and highlights student participation at the museum, including more than 1,200 students who visited for classes, work duty, independent projects, and more! You can read the report in its entirety at http://issuu.com/phillipsacademy/docs/annual_report_2014_2015_final?e=1320520/31019317.

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Peabody Receives Toomey Foundation Award for Upcoming Symposium

Contributed by Ryan Wheeler

The Toomey Foundation for the Natural Sciences awarded the Peabody Museum $5,000 to support “The Archaeology, Art, and Iconography of Florida’s Watery Landscapes,” a symposium to be held at the 81st annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), scheduled to take place this April in Orlando, Fla. Organized by Joanna Ostapkowicz of National Museums Liverpool and Peabody Museum director Ryan Wheeler, the symposium will include a number of presentations highlighting sites, excavations, and objects from waterlogged deposits that allowed preservation of wood and other perishable materials.

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The symposium was inspired by conversations between Ostapkowicz and Wheeler after they met at the SAA meeting in 2013 and recognized that archaeological sites in Florida had produced an amazing array of carved wooden artifacts, but that many of these ancient American Indian objects were understudied. Since then, Ostapkowicz and Wheeler have collaborated on a project that seeks better radiocarbon dates, wood identification, and physical documentation of four wood carvings from Hontoon Island and Tomoka River in central Florida. The Hontoon owl totem—a six-foot-tall, stylized carving discovered in the 1950s—is among the sculptures being studied and has been selected as the emblem of the SAA meeting in April.

The symposium will feature Lee Newsom of Pennsylvania State University and Vernon J. Knight of the University of Alabama as discussants, and will include the following presentations:

“ ‘Totem’ Owls, Otters and Pelicans: 14C Dating Central Florida’s Prehistoric Sculptures,” presented by Joanna Ostapkowicz, Ryan Wheeler, Lee Newsom, Fiona Brock, and Christophe Snoeck

“Wood Preservation Dilemmas of Florida’s Prehistoric Saltwater Sites: Famous Key Marco and Recent Weedon Island,” presented by Phyllis Kolianos

“The Original Spaghetti Junction: Using Canoe Locations to Trace Routes of an Ancient Transportation Network in Florida,” presented by Julia Byrd

“Mortuary Ritual at the Fort Center Mound-Charnel Pond Complex (8GL12): New Insights from an Accidental (Re)Discovery,” presented by Daniel Seinfeld

“The Pineland Site Complex: A Southwest Florida Coastal Wetsite,” presented by Karen Walker and William Marquardt

“The Karst Spring Vent as Receptacle with Meaning: Chassahowitzka Headsprings Weeden Island Period Dolphin Fin Effigy,” presented by Michael Arbuthnot and Michael Faught

“Fort Center’s Iconographic Bestiary: A Fresh Look at Fort Center’s Zoomorphic Wood Carvings,” presented by S. Margaret Spivey

“Early Archaic through Middle Archaic Design Elements on Artifacts from the Basin at Little Salt Spring (8SO18), Sarasota County, Florida,” presented by Steven Koski and John Gifford

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Joanna Ostapkowicz measures the Hontoon owl totem in its display at the National Park Service’s Timucuan Ecological Preserve, Jacksonville, Fla., December 2014.