Posted by: Brian | April 5, 2011

Excavating Hamline History – Fall 2011

Hall of Science excavation class (2004)

Hall of Science excavation class (2004)

This post is for Hamline students interested in registering for my fall class ANTH 3130: Excavating Hamline History.

This class is a unique opportunity to participate on an archaeological excavation as part of an interdisciplinary and collaborative project. It’s an interdisciplinary class because of the students. I ask each of you to contribute to the overall project goals based on either your major studies or other areas of interest and expertise that you have. Your contribution may be in a research area – where you apply your research skills to questions about the site, or the artifacts, or the historical background.

The first time I taught this course we excavated Hamline University’s original Hall of Science, a three story brick building constructed in 1887. I had a chemistry major that analyzed the chemical composition of the building’s bricks, a history major that collected oral history accounts from alumni and faculty, an economics major that analyzed 125Hall of Science artifacts (2004) year-old bills and receipts from the building’s construction, and an archaeology student who analyzed the distribution of glass artifacts recovered in our excavations.

Other students contributed by presenting and interpreting our project in various media including designing a web site, filming a video, writing a play, printing posters, and putting together an exhibit. We also had an education major that brought over Hancock 6th graders so they could experience archaeology first hand. Our philosophy major examined the ethics of archaeology. And our environmental studies major looked at the intersection of environmental protection and cultural resource management laws.

The point is, you can pursue just about any idea you want. What you need is an ability to collaborate on other people’s projects and an enthusiasm for interdisciplinary archaeology. If this sounds interesting then write a brief comment to this post outlining what ways you could contribute to this fall’s class. Also tell me a little bit about yourself (including your major and year). Finally, I would like to know why you are interestedHall of Science excavation (2004) in joining the class and what you hope to gain from your participation. You may want to look at posts tagged as “Hamline History” to get a better idea of what this class is all about. You can find these posts by clicking “Hamline History” under Categories on the right side of this blog. In particular, you may want to check out what students wrote the last time I offered the class.

If you take this class be prepared for a challenge, some fun, and a non-traditional educational experience.

Registration note: I recommend that everyone sign-up for a back-up class if your turn to register comes up before I have decided which of you to accept into this class.


  1. Here we go!
    Hi! I’m Emily Buechler and I’m going to be a junior next year. I am a political science major with minors in history, art history, and conflict studies. I was excited when I saw this class because it was a science class where I could incorporate my love of history! I like how my major and minors are all very interconnected and I thought this class would fit in well with other material I am learning. I will be able to apply my knowledge of history and art history as well as politics of the time we are looking at.
    Another reason I thought this would be a cool class is because I like looking at old objects in antique stores or my aunt’s attic and trying to figure out what they are or what were used for. I also learned about objects of the past from tours of historical places my parents brought me to all the time as a kid. I always enjoyed when the tour guide would pull out something like stereoscope and I already knew what it was.
    I am specifically interested in Hamline’s history because I love looking at photos of the campus and students from the past. We have some photos up in the undergraduate admissions house where I work entering data. It is fun at work because I can see the names of students that attended
    Hamline 50 years in the past. It would be nice to be able to touch the history that I have only been able to observe.
    I’m psyched to see what we can dig up!

    • Me too on the antiques! (Do you know any good stores in the cities?) I love to peruse them!!!! =)

  2. Hello! My name is Anna Faherty, I’m going to be a senior next year, and I’m majoring in History with a minor in Theater, and a Spanish Proficiency certificate. I’m currently studying abroad in Spain, in the city of Santiago de Compostela, which is amazing, because there is so much history here, as it is a pilgrimage town. When I graduate, I want to work in museums, and, because of this, I spent last summer interning at the historical society in my hometown, Brunswick, ME. I’m really interested in archaeology, but I haven’t really taken a class in it since high school–which was an intro class, and really fun! I really hope that I am chosen to be a member of this class, because I think I have lots of different background to bring to the table!


  3. Hey Professor Hoffman,
    This is from Emily Paulsen. I am an Anthropology and Theater Arts double major, and I am interested in taking the Excavating Hamline History course. I have had some background in the Hamline History project from Dave Davies’ Museums course, as well as the experiences I have had volunteering in the lab. I am interested in pursuing museum exhibit design, and I think that by participating in this course it would further the work I did in the museum class, as well as what I have learned by working in the lab. I believe the skills and knowledge I have gained from the museum course and my scenic and lighting design courses for theater will be able to be applied to an exhibit that could be developed involving materials found in the excavating Hamline History course.

  4. Hi!
    My name is Bridgette Reuvers. I am an Anthropology major and a Sociology minor. I am going to be a Senior next year and would love to be able to have this opportunity before I have to leave Hamline. I believe that I would be a worthy member of this project because I have the ability to apply my anthropological skills allowing me to be a strong advocator, administrator, evaluator and researcher. I think that this is a wonderful project because of the opportunities that it is bringing Hamline. It is creating the ability for the University to further connect with the community it belongs to and raise awareness of the unique work that Hamline students are doing. I would love to be involved in this project and thank you for your consideration!

  5. Hello! My name is Cassidy Kleinheksel. I am majoring in Spanish and minoring in Anthropology and I will be a Senior next year! I am interested in this class because I have taken many anthro classes in the past, but have yet to delve deeper into the archaeological branch of anthropology. I have experience in cultural, linguistic, and physical anthropology. These classes have taught me basic, but detailed techniques of analysis, holistic approaches, basic lab techniques, historical, and scientific views. I am abroad in Valparaíso, Chile right now, which will allow me to contribute some stories, opinions, and cultural analysis of collaborative projects in class. Overall I am always anxious to learn and share opinions and ideas with classmates and professors. I will be able to analyze and add a view point and knowledge from Latin American countries. My past in anthropology will enable me to share these experiences and opinions in a way that will benefit the knowledge of the subjects we study in and out of class! Thanks!

  6. Hello, Professor Hoffman.
    I am an Archaeology major, and a first year with very little experience in doing Archaeology. However, I am currently taking a topics class (Arctic Archaeology), am volunteering in the lab (I have actually even done some recategorization of Hamline History artifacts for Liesl), and will be attending a field school this summer, if all goes as planned. I think that these three things will put me in a good position to work on the Hamline History project. I want to do the Hamline History project in order to get more experience in working on archaeological projects. I also like the idea of having a non-traditional, interdisciplinary project to work on. I hope to be able to do this class.
    Thank you for your consideration

  7. Hi Professor Hoffman!
    As I think you already know, I would love to be a part of the Hamline History Excavations. I’m super enthusiastic for this project ever since getting involved with it through the Lab Techniques class last semester and have a pretty good grasp on what exactly the Hamline History Project is doing and why. My focus within the major is archaeology which means I have had extensive theory and applied training in that area, and I can never get enough field work. I am completely enthusiastic for getting in the dirt and getting my hands dirty. I am also a philosophy minor which can be incredibly useful on an excavating project as my experience with that lets me look at things with both an intensely analytical eye as well as seeing multiple perspectives at once. I also like to think that my philosophy experience gives me a more solid handle on the theory side of research. Next semester I will technically be a second semester senior, and i would love for this project to be one of my last experiences of being a student at Hamline.
    You know from working with me that i am an enthusiastic worker with a good sense of humor who doesn’t mind putting in some extra effort for the benefit of research, and i would be more than happy to volunteer on this project even if I’m not selected as a member of the class.
    Thanks so much for making this opportunity available to me!

  8. Hello,

    I am very interested in this class. I am currently a sophomore Anthropology and Political Science major. Last semester I took the Museums class with Professor Davies which sought to utilize the artifacts found from previous Hamline Archaeology class to present insight about Hamine, the Hamline Methodist Church, and the Hamline Community. I enjoyed this class, but as I am focusing on archaeology for my Anthropology major, I feel the Hamline Archaeology class would be a great experience. The Museums project really gave me an interest in the Hamline Community and this class would allow me to add to the community atmoshphere and feeling. If I am not selected I would definitely like to volunteer to assist in any way possible. Thank you very much for the consideration.

  9. My name is David Fine. I am an Anthropology and Sociology major and I have wanted to attend the Excavating Hamline History since I was a Freshmen. It sounded like a unique and interesting opportunity to be able to preform an actual excavation of Hamline History. I wanted to take the class even more after attending Museums, Exhibitions, and Representation. Learning how the objects were brought out of the ground and the history of the excavations was as much fun as actually trying to build a museum project to represent them. My sociology major gives me a slightly different perspective than anthropology. Looking at the macro and minute of society (and especially what artifacts can be preserved and examined after societies and people have long since gone) allows me to bring a different theoretical understanding to the excavation process.

    I am especially excited for this course because now whenever I walk into an Archeology museum and see stone tools on display I start talking not only about the methods of display and ways in which the object is presented, but, now about how the stone tools were made, the materials, and how incredibly skillful the people who have to make them must be.

  10. Hey Professor,

    My name is KJ Minnerath, and I’m going to be a junior next year, majoring in English with a minor in Sociology. Last year, I remember seeing pictures of an excavating class at work and thinking that that was one of the classes I just had to take while I was at Hamline. My opinion has definitely not changed! I’ve had a few friends take this class and absolutely love it. It doesn’t hurt that I wanted to be an archeologist when I was a kid. I’ve always been interested in antiques and old buildings, and I think this class will be a great opportunity to learn even more – especially about Hamline. I’m the type to give random tours to the friends on campus, and the history of the school played a major role in my decision to come here. I also think that this class will be a great chance for me to expand beyond the general expectations of my major and minor, where we look mainly at what people have said or what they do. I’d like to see what they left behind as well. I’m excited to see what this class has to offer, and how I can take it a step farther! Thanks for your time,


  11. Hi Professor Hoffman,
    My name is Emily Seymour-Anderson and I’m going to be a junior next year. This is my first semester at Hamline, I just transferred from MCTC. I’m majoring in Sociology and also minoring in Education and Psychology.
    While at MCTC I took cultural anthropology, and I found it very interesting, but would love to get more experience and be able to do more field work relating to anthropology, which I would get by being a part of this class.
    I find this class to be very interesting for many reasons. First, I love working with other people, and especially people who have different interests and experiences than I, it only makes the outcome of the project even stronger. Secondly, I learn much more when I’m doing hands-on work out in the real world and seeing things happening and finding things with my own eyes. Plus to be able to fulfill both a Humanities and Natural Science credit doing something where I’m being challenged, and also am interested in and having fun all at the same time sounds pretty fantastic to me!
    As an education minor (pursuing licensure) I would love to get children from the neighborhood (specifically Hancock Elementary) involved in the project, if possible. Because I’m not an Anthropology major, I think I could come in with different insight than those who are. I think having people from different educational backgrounds working together would contribute to make the project better-rounded. I also love photography and other kinds of media, such as helping put together a video, that involve documenting the experience. I would love to do that for this class. I also want to be a significant part of the experience and participating in the fieldwork, too!
    I want to learn more about Hamline and the surrounding area, since this is where I go to school and where I live and how people before us lived and what they left behind for us to find!
    Thanks for your time,

  12. Hi Professor Hoffman,
    My name is Matthew Norby. I am an anthropology major. I would love to participate in this class. I have an interest in digging and exploring. I have had two classes with you so far, and I think I would do great in this one. Also, I grew up in this area. I am part of this community. I still know people who live here. I would love to be in this class.

  13. Good evening Professor Hoffman, my names are Tom Mutyabule a legal studies major. I enjoy learning about history of communities and cultures. I would like to learn more about the History of Hamline village because it is where I have gone to school as an adult, and I would like to share the same with my family and community. Am also interested in this class because I believe coming from a different culture, perhaps there are some similarities I might share with members of the Hamline village.

  14. Hi Professor Hoffman,
    My name is Anne Syslo. I am somewhere between a sophomore and junior (I transferred from MCTC) and I plan to major in anthropology and minor in Spanish. At this point I am going between cultural anthropology and archaeology. So I feel like this class would be a good way to see if I like the archaeology. There is also the added bonus of getting one of the N’s out of the way from the Hamline plan and actually enjoying the class I’m taking. Thanks for your time!

  15. My name is Kayla VanDyke
    I will be a sophmore next year. My major is anthropology and my minor will be in sociology. What got me excited for this class was the story you told me about the boy from Hancock elementary school and his experience learning about this area’s history through this class when he was so new to our country. As a foster child I know what it’s like to be dissplaced and move around. It is because of this experience that I have a different perspective on family and culture. I liked this story because it exemplifies what I’d eventually like to do for other people. I want to help people find home and belonging right where they are. I was once put off by archiology because I saw it as something which was inaccesible to me and detached from where I live, but I feel like this class would finally bridge the gap for me. While I was speaking with a student from the archiology lab, I was able to see something that was recovered by a former class. It was a glass light fixture, which if I had seen on the street would have seemed insignificant. I think I’ve taken for granted the history of where I’ve lived and I would like the opportunity to take a better look at it through participating in this class. Thank you again for the opportunity to be in your field school. 🙂

  16. Professor Hoffman,

    I have struggled with how I should “market myself” as a prospective candidate for the Excavating Hamline History field school. As an art history minor, I am familiar with the research processes that are necessary to embed material objects within a larger social context. As an anthropology major, my strengths lie in my ability to work with other living breathing human beings, and appreciate each individuals different ways of being and knowing. My past experiences of participating in multiple field schools has shown me how difficult it can be to work on a team in a one meter trench, but it has also allowed me to explore the different strategies that can promote cooperation between people that don’t necessarily see eye to eye. I am an excellent project coordinator, and am pretty methodological with excavation techniques. I have also had experiences in dealing with the aftermath of an excavation. I have cataloged artifacts and worked with the Past Perfect software to create a record of items cataloged in the lab. The process of sorting through artifacts and trying to make order out of chaos has emphasized the importance of labeling bags and sorting artifacts in the field. The site I have been working on with another college is going into its fourth year of excavations. Two years ago I worked with faculty and one other student to interpret and analyze the artifacts found at our site, and embed that within a pre-contact and post-contact historical context. We wrote up our information, and I created a poster that we presented at the Midwest Archaeological Conference. It won second place, and we were the only community college represented. I am excellent at creating visual presentations and conceptualizing different ways of communicating information to the public. In fact, I created the poster that advertised your talk at Normandale yesterday. However, I am sure that many other students have done field work, understand how to utilize the power of visual imagery, and possess leadership qualities.

    As a student informed by the discipline of anthropology, as well as the methods and theoretical concerns of art historians, I am able to understand how material culture (whether that be household artifacts, structural remains, or other symbolic expressions in material form) is a reflection and product of specific social realities. Those social realities can be interpreted by examining the material remains excavated at the site of the Hamline History project. In addition, it is also possible to see patterns emerging in how artifacts are located. Those artifacts and emerging patterns raise a broad range of questions that students and faculty must address. How can we interpret the material remains found at the field site? Can we create a scenario that makes sense and effectively communicates the history of the site? What were the existential realities of the people that utilized the site? How has our own society been transformed since the time the buildings were in use? Since the Hamline History sites date within the past hundred years, are there historical records available to help us gain a better understanding of the context of the site? How can we work with the larger community to incorporate them into the Hamline History project?

    So what makes me unique? Am I different than the rest of the applicants? Those were difficult questions to answer at first, but I finally realized the answer after we had a conversation about the types of people that account for the highest percentage of Hamline’s student body. I am a non-traditional student in a school that is dominated by traditional students. I am 34, the mother of three children, and have transferred here from a college that is known for its ethnic diversity, as well as the structures and processes they have implemented to make education more accessible to non-traditional students. My life experiences are broader and extremely different than other students at Hamline. The existential problems and struggles I have faced in getting to this point in my life distinguish me from the other applicants. I hope to be an asset to the Hamline History team and add my own perspectives on archaeology, anthropology, and history to the project.

    Dawn Whitney

  17. Hello!!

    My name is Michael Riley and I am a third year student at Hamline majoring ing English and Sociology and (potentially) minoring in Racial Studies. Although more often than not im one of the last people you would find digging around in the dirt, I am more than excited to step out of my comfort zone and do something a little different than usually expected.

    Although a few friends a couple years olden than me have taken this course previously, I happened to have come across it just by sheer luck I had no idea that it has returned this semester. This is where my place of expertise would come in.

    This year I will be interacting with many of the incoming first year class in various different ways. I am the intern for our office of orientation and first year programs as well as a community mentor working with low income first generation college students in the heights as well as the president of our Black Student Alliance PRIDE BSA. With all of this interactions with first year students I have learned many ways to get the word out regarding events via our YouTube channel to posters to formal and informal sessions.

    If I am chosen to be a part of this great class the. I will work very hard to did various different ways to engage and learn about one the Hamline’s hidden jewels.

  18. Hello Professor Hoffman,
    My name is Misia Mazis. I am a first year psychology major and haven’t figured out or thought about a minor yet.

    I was looking for classes to register for, and this one caught my eye. I have always had an interest in archeology because I use to love dinosaurs, and even though history has usually seemed boring to me, I work best in classes where it is more visuals and hands on, as well as a mix of individual and group work. I’m not always one who immediately jumps to go spend hours outside, but this class looks too interesting to pass up.

    I hope to gain a less biased view on history and realize that not all of it is ‘boring’ or just textbook readings. It’s nice coming from a somewhat limited high school background to coming to a college where you can take courses like this where you get to go out and actually have an experience.

    I believe I can contribute a sincere curiosity and willingness to learn and try new things. I follow directions well and am excited to try something out of my usual class choices.

    Thank you so much!


  19. Hi Professor Hoffman,

    I am a Studio Arts major and Education minor pursuing an Elementary licensure. Having transferred into Hamline after being away from college for several years, I am a somewhat nontraditional student. My wife and I have two kids, and with my son being five years old he and I have constant conversations about archaeology (dinosaurs!). What I feel I would bring to this class is maturity and perspective as well as an enthusiasm for learning about the world in as many different ways as I can. Becoming an elementary teacher, I feel the more understanding I have about ways of seeing the things around us all, the better prepared I will be to reach young students in the many different ways they learn. I also bring to the class a critical way of thinking in which I am able to see ideas in more than one light, and being a Studio Arts major focusing in sculpture I have the additional benefit of consideration for physical objects and analysis as such. If I am admitted into this course, I feel I can contribute and gain significantly from the experience to grow in my understanding of the physical world and new ways of connecting it to my future students.

    Thanks for you consideration,

    Matt Gockowski

  20. Hello Professor,

    My name is David Tomenes and I am a legal studies major with a Spanish minor.

    I believe that I would be a great choice for the class. I am a team player who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. I understand I’m coming into this process late, and I apologize for that but was unaware that such an opportunity even existed. Considering Hamline is where I plan on spending the rest of my undergraduate education, and is a strong prospect for law school I would like to learn as much about the institution as possible. Additionally, I am currently a New Student Mentor as well as the Community Mentor in Drew Residence Hall. I feel that this class would enrich those experiences as it would give me the knowledge to provide these new students with the history of Hamline from a different perspective.

    The project I would be looking at doing would be largely based on the history of Hamline, or maybe hitting closer to my major a study on the contracts required for a major dig at an accredited university. While I have little history or experience in the anthropology department, this project could be an enriching experience for me and I beg you to consider me as an appllicant.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    David Tomenes

  21. Dear proffessor Hoffman
    I am sophomore Spanish major and next year will dual majoring in Education. I have been all over the Americas, i was born i Peru, and two months later i moved to Berkeley California where i would live until i was nine. From age nine to 18 i lived in Monteverde Costa Rica, in the cloud forest. My first year of college i attended the University of Indianapolis and for my second i transfered here to Hamline. I am interested in taking the Excavating Hamline History course because i would like to investigate the landscape of this community.

    This project could be an enriching experience for me

  22. Hello!
    My name is Meaghan and I am a transfer student here at Hamline, entering my junior year this fall. I am an Art History major with a minor in Studio Arts. I am very interested in taking this course for a variety of reasons. My first reason would have to be my love for history, particularly art history. The relationship between an Art Historian and an Archeologist is very significant, because essentially we are after the same awnsers. Its truly amazing to me the way artifacts can tell us so much about people, places and events that have been lost in time.
    When I graduate Hamline, I am interested in pursuing a career in museum curating, where I would set up and research for exhibitions of a nature similar to this. I took Intro to Anthropology with Skip in fall ’10 and absolutely loved it. The ability to be creative and active in this course is very appealing to me, I would really love the opportunity to gain a hands-on learning experience while interacting with my peers in order to get the best understanding of working in a field like this.
    As I noted before, I am also a Studio Arts minor, concentrating on painting. Outside of school I have branched out with my artwork and currently do live painting for concerts and fundraising events during weekends. A huge element of participating in these shows is the ability to collaberate with others. Other artists, musicians, promoters – building relationships and creating events as well as large-scale pieces of art which brings a new element to the ideas of ‘team-work’. Musicians and visual artists have the chance here to bring different forms of art together, melding our creativity into something that represents the fundemental ideas of working together towards a main purpose. We recently did a fundraiser event for Alopecia; a woman’s hair loss disease, in order to create live paintings, perform live music, we brought in hair stylists for hair-cutting and hair donations, as well as raising money for research on a cure for Alopecia.
    I feel like getting the opportunity to learn more about my college and the students and patrons who have participated in making Hamline the university that it is would be benificial for my overall college experience and sense of belonging. Learning more about excavation and the process that goes into finding the artifacts I study would help me with my career in the future. Combining science with art history in a way that is really interesting to me; as well as learning much more about different areas of study and how they relate; has me doing backflips hoping that I will have the chance to participate in this class and with these fellow students.

  23. I’m Seth, and by trade I’m a 3-d artist and an educator. I work with a variety of youth in St. Paul ranging from Karen refugees to inner-city black youth. I am a ceramicist and a sculpture, so my main interest and contribution to the class could be possibly reconstructing the artifacts that have been unearthed. Not to be too general, but artists who work in three dimensions tend to like the physical experience of reality, and I’m no exception. I have connections with Denny Sponsler who is a master ceramicist and sculptor who works for Minneapolis Public schools and Bruce Thomas, Hamline’s sculpture professor, who has done much work with reconstruction of the human figure from skeletal specimens. I feel like with the collaboration of those people, the class, and my skill in ceramics and sculpture, I could really add to the big-picture needs of this course.
    Though my interest in history is secondary, I have much experience in art history as well. I know how to research and place artifacts in their particular context.
    Finally, my passion for education could bolster not only the presentation and distribution of the information gathered, but a diverse audience that could participate as well as help with the dig itself.

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