archival research - university of wisconsin- archival research introduction 17 land use history 18...
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Archival ResearchIntroduction ........................................................................17Land Use History.................................................................18Archival Resources ..............................................................19Serial Files and Map Collections ..........................................21Journals/Serial Publications/Published Sources .....................24Standard Physiographic References .....................................25Checklists for Archival Research..........................................25
IntroductionArchival or background research conducted inassociation with archeological investigationsinvolves compiling a project-specific summaryof known archeological properties, known ar-cheological contexts, previous investigations,and relevant environmental variables. Archivalor pre-field research should be undertakenprior to conducting field investigations andshould not be limited to Wisconsin if the pro-ject is located near the border of Illinois, Iowa,Minnesota, or Michigan. The specificity andfocus of archival research varies with the leveland scale of the associated investigation.However, most projects can be assigned to oneof three broad categories.
First, and probably most common, is researchundertaken in support of planned field work.In this case, the purpose of archival researchis to obtain background information adequateto (1) develop an effective research design, (2)select an appropriate field methodology, (3)allow for later interpretation of the results offield work, and (4) provide a basis for pre-liminary evaluation of identified sites. Archi-val research undertaken in conjunction withPhase I identification studies will be morebroadly based than research associated withPhase II testing and evaluation or Phase IIIdata recovery projects. A second applicationof archival research is as an information-gathering tool for nonfield-based researchprojects. Such background studies are oftendesigned to furnish information necessary todevelop a formal historic context or providedata required by a specific research objective.
The sources described in this chapter representa comprehensive list and would not be relevant
for every Public Archeology project. At mini-mum, the following sources should be checkedprior to conducting field investigations:
the Archaeological Site Inventory(ASI) with associated USGS quadran-gles (Office of the State Archaeologist)
the Wisconsin Burial Inventory(WBSI)
the Bibliography of Archaeological re-ports (Office of the State Archaeolo-gist)
These sources will identify any previously re-ported archeological sites and survey in thearea.
Land Use HistoryA third application of archival research is as ascreening technique to determine the necessityfor actual field observations or to help definean appropriate scope of work for a particularinvestigation. In this case, the goal of archivalresearch is often the compilation of a land usehistory (LUH). A land use history representsan attempt to develop a detailed history of aparticular parcel of land with regard to usageand alteration of the original landscape. Such astudy typically consists of three components.The first is directed toward compiling the ac-tual history of the parcel in question. The sec-ond focuses on compiling a record of naturaland cultural processes that may have affectedany resources potentially present. The finalcomponent provides an assessment of the par-cels potential to harbor historic resources.
An LUH should reference any record of pastuse of the property. Of particular concern aredocumented developments such as structures;sewer, water, and utility improvements; land-
scaping; or other land alterations. The LUHshould be reviewed also in relation to com-munity and regional histories and physi-ographic studies, to assess the parcels po-tential for archeological or historicalsignificance. Particular attention should bepaid to presettlement vegetation, soil type, andlandform class. Finally, an effort should bemade to document individuals or groups as-sociated with the property through time. Thedegree to which any LUH is developed for aproject should be based on the projects sizeand the severity of potential impacts to ar-cheological properties. The following list en-compasses all possible sources; not every onewould be relevant for a specific project.
In addition to the archival resources discussedin a later section, the following resources areparticularly cogent to the development of aland use history:
county histories county soil books regional physiographic studies or land-
form analyses maps and aerial photographs plat books Government Land Office (GLO) sur-
vey notes and field sheets deeds and tract indices county atlases Wisconsin Land Economic Inventory tax records (rolls and judgments) post-GLO survey records census data state-level development permits municipal building permits local newspaper archives local historical collections and photo-
graphic archives oral histories informant interviews
The second component of the LUH shouldfocus on identification of various land usepractices that may have affected cultural re-sources on the parcel. Essentially, this part ofthe study consists of developing a list of dis-turbances associated with the historic uses of
the property. Disturbances may include natu-ral processes such as erosion, inundation,sedimentation, mass wasting, or eolian epi-sodes. Disturbances traceable to culturalevents include various land-clearing practices;agricultural utilization; timbering or otherlogging-related operations; mineral or petro-leum exploitation; construction of facilities,structures, or roadways; and emplacement ofutilities.
This part of the LUH should pay particularconcern to the nature of specific disturbances.For example, disturbances such as land lev-eling, deep plowing, or excavation of base-ments and structure foundations destroy orradically transform most archeological re-sources affected. However, massive fill epi-sodes or episodic flooding and accompanyingsedimentation may have very limited adverseeffects or in certain cases actually act to pre-serve some kinds of archeological resources.
The final component of the LUH consists of asynthesis of the data compiled in the first twocomponents. The goal of this effort is a practi-cal assessment of the probability that a par-ticular parcel of land may harbor potentiallysignificant resources. The assessment shouldbe made with explicit reference to the kinds ofprior land use, the nature and extent of docu-mented disturbances, the range of prehistoricor historic resources potentially present, andthe potential of the landscape to harbor intactor remnant archeological deposits.
Land use histories are most effective whendealing with clearly circumscribed projectboundaries of limited areal extent; i.e., indi-vidual lots or parcels of less than about 100acres. The LUH approach does not readilylend itself to areally extensive corridor sur-veys or to reconnaissance of tracts in excessof several hundred acres. Archeological in-vestigations that target urban settings or for-mer or present industrialized land will readilybenefit from compiling of an LUH prior toinitiation of field studies. However, land usehistories centered on rural tracts can also pro-vide useful data, depending on the nature andextent of the rural developments involved. Ingeneral, the LUH approach can lead to morecost-effective field studies guided by robust,focused research designs.
Archival ResourcesListed below are major Wisconsin archivalresources housing essential information forarcheological investigations. The list is neitherexhaustive nor exclusive and is intended toserve only as a basic frame of reference.
The State Historical Society of Wisconsin(SHSW)The State Historical Society of Wisconsin(SHSW), located on the campus of the Uni-versity of Wisconsin-Madison, houses themost essential resources for archival research.The SHSW includes a number of related de-partments or resources. Major SHSW re-sources are listed below.
The Division of Historic Preservation,Compliance Section. This departmentmaintains a computerized database and paperfiles of all federally and state-mandated ar-cheological and architectural investigationsthat are currently under review or have beenreviewed in the past three years. After threeyears, the Compliance Section purges its filesand transfers the purged records to the Officeof the State Archaeologist (OSA). Purged re-cords are reviewed by the OSA staff and ex-traneous materials are discarded; the remain-ing records are filed by county, year, andproject. These records may contain copies ofsurvey reports as well as correspondence,project maps, and miscellaneous documents.
Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA).The Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA)acts as a clearinghouse for information relatedto archeology in Wisconsin. The office is re-sponsible for administering and overseeing anumber of programs related to preservationand management of historic properties inWisconsin. Among the direct responsibilitiesof the OSA are overseeing the Regional Ar-chaeology Program, awarding Survey andPlanning Grants, and approving Archeologi-cal Field Permits. The OSA is also responsi-ble for preparing State and National Registerof Historic Places nominations, coordinatingthe state tax exemption program, and assign-ing trinomial state site numbers to newly
codified archeological sites. In addition, theOSA maintains the archeological site recordsfor the state and also compiles the Bibliogra-phy of Archeological Reports (BAR).
The Burial Sites Preservation Office(BSPO). The BSPO is responsible for coor-dinating a statewide effort to record and pro-tect human burial sites.