Since my last blog, I have been working on drafting more of the outhouse exhibit panels at the Mahaffie Farmstead. I am past the drafting stage and am now working in Adobe Illustrator to create a few example panels for my supervisor Katie and the site manager Tim. We had a meeting and decided on three panels: a panel about the history of outhouses, particularly ones that were used by middle-class people, a panel about archaeological techniques used by archaeologists and historians to recover artifacts and interpret the past; the last one is a panel about the different artifacts that I pulled for the exhibit. Although the artifacts are mostly surface finds, most of them are connected to archaeological excavation sites on the Farmstead. I have chosen pieces of glass, a ceramic doll hair piece, some pieces of pottery, and a few other items that I may decide to switch around the last minute before we actually create the hard copies of the panels. I brainstormed ideas of panel designs and chose a simply black font for all panels except for the archaeological panel titles which will be a red clay color to represent soil layers found at archaeological excavation sites. For each panel I have about 4-5 paragraphs and each paragraph talks about the different subtopics found within the broad categories of archaeological techniques, the history of outhouses, and artifact analysis. For the panel that talks about the history of outhouses, I talk about how the one at the Farmstead is a reproduction and not the real Mahaffie outhouse. The real Mahaffie outhouse location has never been found so the reproduction is what it may have looked like to the best of our knowledge. I then go into the purposes of outhouses: that they were also trash cans or garbage bins in addition to acting as bathrooms for people. Because they acted as trash cans, historians and archaeologists can find a lot of valuable artifacts within the remains of an outhouse building.
I also describe the difficulties of potty-training children in outhouses and the encumbrance of ladies using the outhouse with bulky hoop skirts. Typically, an outhouse would have 2 or 3 holes for seats instead of just the one hole that popular myth suggests. It is also interesting to learn that outhouses were usually unisex. At some point, there were separate outhouses for men and women, possibly signified by the carving of the moon and the star at the top of the outhouse door. But according to historical legend, the outhouses for men were not kept up properly and fell by the wayside. Instead, the men just started using the outhouses for women and that is how unisex outhouses became popular. At the bottom of the outhouse panel, I am putting four pictures of: a bucket of lye, some corn cobs, a chamber pot, and medicated paper. These items will be within the exhibit and have tiny separate paragraphs of their own in order to describe their purposes to visitors.