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In 2005, Harry S Truman National Historic Site initiated a foundation replacement project for two of its historic homes. The Noland and Frank Wallace homes were in desperate need of foundation replacement in order to maintain safety and structural stability. During construction, an archaeologist was on site to monitor the ground disturbance around the structures and to document and collect any artifacts unearthed. A large pocket of artifacts, called a feature, was found on the site of the Frank Wallace home. A representative sample of bottles and ceramic fragments were collected and are now preserved in the Truman collection. Pieces date from the mid to late 19th century and were deposited as trash by the Gates-Wallace family.
In historic households, backyard features such as abandoned privies, cisterns and yard perimeters often became trash repositories. In urban settings, these deposits are usually found during construction activities associated with the building of new structures or the repair of old ones. When such features are discovered, they often become the focus of an archaeological investigation. Archaeologists can learn a great deal about people`s private lives, everyday activities and consumer habits from the garbage they find. What could future archaeologists learn by studying your trash?
The Harry S Truman NHS Visitor Center is open daily from 8:30-5:00. The exhibit is free.