Culture Contact and Gender in the Hudson’s Bay Company of the Lower Columbia River 1824-1860
thesisposted on 2011-01-11, 12:50 authored by Helen Delight Stone
This thesis explores the example of the archaeology of Fort Vancouver not as an end in itself, but as a pointer to a more general call for greater sensitivity in searching for and interpreting evidence. In archaeological interpretation men are most visible. The history of excavation at Fort Vancouver could be adduced as a perfect example. Chapters on feminist history and Fort Vancouver history are presented as essential preliminary background, in two parts. Part 1 describes the general background relating to historical archaeological practice, the growing visibility of women in historical investigation, the history of the fort, its occupants, and its excavations. Part 2 moves to the new story my research allows to be told. This new story is: 1) Mapping evidence establishes a layout of buildings, but with no clear material evidence of the presence of women. 2) Documentary evidence establishes a substantial presence of women with great clarity. 3) Excavations have tended to confirm the first pattern of evidence but to neglect the second pattern of evidence. 4) Finally, one building in particular provides an example of a structure used both by married with family and single occupants, and should have been excavated with that history in mind. It becomes an important test case – either as evidence of what can be proved, or as a cautionary tale of what should have been better explored, or as both. The story told is one of mixed success. Some of the evidence (extant maps and documentary evidence of families) demonstrates that women can be made more visible. However, some of the evidence (especially that of the physical remains and artifacts) is now largely lost or was neglected or overlooked, making it more difficult to present a clear picture.