Cataloging, Rehabilitation, and Curation of the St. Catherines Island Paleoenvironmental Collections
Principal Investigators: Donna Ruhl and Kitty Emery (ongoing)
In 2005, the John Edward Noble Foundation via the American Museum of Natural History donated valuable St. Catherines Island paleoenvironmental collections to the Environmental Archaeology Program for permanent curation and long-term research. These important collections represent over 20 years of archaeological work on St. Catherines Island, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, by David H. Thomas and his colleagues including UF faculty and students. The collections included analyzed and unanalyzed zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical collections from historic (e.g., Mission Santa Catalina de Guale) and prehistoric (e.g., Meeting House Field) sites and modern comparative collections.
Their research potential is extensive. As the permanent repository for these collections, we realized that the transfer and integration into the parent holdings of the FLMNH's EAP would require a four-phased strategy including the crucial steps of inventorying, rehabilitation, computerization, and integration. Inventory, the critical first aspect of collections management, is essential to account for collections. The intent is to assess what we have and in so doing prevent, to the best of our ability, miscataloging, overlooking (not cataloging), misplacing, and/or misidentifying materials, which are potentialities of any comprehensive inventory project. Inventories of AMNH site numbers and boxes were cross-referenced where we could with assistance from David Hurst Thomas, with site name and Georgia Site numbers. Rehabilitation, the second objective for the collection, included rehousing/reboxing in archival quality materials (e.g., cabinetry, vials, bags, containers), labeling, developing finding aids, and preparing materials for computerization and integration into the extant collections. Computerization included entering itemized hand inventories into the computer using Excel and developing standardized data entry worksheets to accommodate final export into the Environmental Archaeology database. This last computerization phase will happen when the EAP database is available (still under construction). The final stage, integration, is still to come.