Arya Misra

Week 2: Carleton College Archives

This Tuesday, on the 10th of April, our lab class visited the Carleton College archives located on the first libe. The director of the archives, Nat Wilson, gave us a short presentation on the different types of archives and their upkeep. We also received a rundown on the archival resources available to us and their various forms such as films, negatives, photographs, original written documents etc. It was surprising to know how difficult it is to digitize these resources and the fact that less than 5% of these available resources at Carleton are digitized. We also learnt the process of how to access the Carleton college archives as well as the ones available in the town of Northfield.

We were then able to look at the archival resources related to the Women’s League Cabin that dated back to the 1940s. We got access to laminated pictures, negatives, film reels and so on. However, the things that stood out to me the most were the preserved handwritten letters and notes as well as types forms and floor plans of the cabin. We had talked about the preservation and digitization process briefly but to actually observe it was a wonderful experience. We had to wear gloves so as to protect these resources as much as possible. It also made me realize how crucial these assets are and the importance of their proper care. The photographs posed an interesting question of trust. Some students commented that some of the pictures looked staged while some candid and it made me think how we trust the resources that we can’t crosscheck.

Overall, the trip to the archives was brilliant and seeing what they have to offer was quite exhilarating. I look forward to using this resource for my future projects.

Week 3: Field-walking

This week for the lab, we received hands-on experience in the first steps of the archaeological process, i.e., field surveying and artefact collection. The class was divided into two groups and I was one of the field walkers in the second survey unit. Lena was the team leader and in-charge of taking down the necessary information such as bearings, visibility, items collected by individual walkers etc.

We drove to the site and started the process immediately since it was raining and people were starting to get drenched before we even started field walking. The field walkers stood ten metres apart from each other and our goal was to find and collect artefacts that could provide information about the people and place. The rain and mud made the process a bit more difficult but we were able to find some pretty amazing objects. We had a list of materials that we wanted to record such as ceramics, glass, plastic, tiles. bricks etc. I was able to collect five ceramic or pottery pieces from the first survey but only a couple of ceramic pieces and an old baseball from the second survey. By the end of the field walking, we were completely drenched and decided to return back to LDC before finalizing the bagging and recording process.

Back at the classroom, we dried and labelled the bags and finished the recording process. Despite the terrible weather, we all had a blast. Everyone was in good spirit, the whole process was not only interesting but engaging. We all helped each other out and had an absolutely amazing time. The rain, if anything, made the process more enjoyable and I am very excited for the lab next week.