As this is my last blog post, I will discuss my last archaeological panel and other loose ends before I finish my time as an intern at the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farmstead. This final panel still relates to archaeology and between myself, my supervisor Katie Lange, and Mahaffie’s site manager Tim Talbott, we created a unique panel that links the soil analysis process I mentioned in my previous blog post and the actual Mahaffie artifacts that will be on display for the exhibit. We decided to put an image of different soil layers in the middle of the panel with labels that give an approximate historical era or date for each layer. There will be different colors of brown and red depending on which era the soul is labeled under. Then we place one artifact in each soil label section. There is a plethora of archaeological artifacts at Mahaffie, and we have collected a handful for this exhibit. Those specific artifacts are subject to change as we are still in the brainstorming stage of the exhibit. I tried to pick a wide variety of artifacts that can connect to the other panels in the exhibit. Some of the ones I wanted to use are broken glass pieces, a mammal bone, a button, a belt buckle, a piece of ceramic doll hair, and a few other pottery pieces. The overall theme of the panel besides giving an example of soil analysis is the diverse travelers and occupants of the farmhouse besides the Mahaffie family who would have used the outhouse/s on the property. Since we are trying to make this exhibit interactive and a lot of kids will be viewing this exhibit, we decided to make the comments or labels for the artifacts more like questions. This will allow them to think and reflect on what the lives of children were like back in the mid-19th century as well as build on critical thinking skills they will be learning in school. The ceramic piece of doll hair is a particular favorite of mine as it captures the audience of children and would help adults think about the difficulties of trying to potty-train children with outhouses before indoor plumbing was widespread.
The entire process of brainstorming regarding this exhibit was a long one. After I had summarized all of my original text and twisted it into easier language for children, Tim, Katie, and I all met and discussed how we were going to implement the artifacts, photos, and artistic features of the exhibit. We decided on basic muted colors and a thicker font since this exhibit will be outside and may be harder to read than a traditional exhibit inside, especially if it is cloudy or dreary on a particular day. After this meeting, Tim and I began working in Adobe Illustrator to create a rough draft for each panel. That is where I am now and have the drafts for all three nearly completed. There will be much tweaking before it is over, and I may not even be an intern at Mahaffie anymore once they actually construct the panels and install the full exhibit. Whether I am there or not, I am still proud of the work we have done, and I believe this outhouse exhibit will be a valuable addition to the Mahaffie Farmstead and to the public awareness of local history.