Alexandra Amado '14
I spent a semester researching in the Gladfelter Anthropology Lab. My time there was immensely rewarding, but at times profoundly confusing. There are so many artifacts and so many stories to tell that sometimes I felt completely overwhelmed. There are more people that have come in and out of the lab over the past 50 plus years than I can list. The lab’s history came to me in pieces, most of the information being stored solely in the mind of the former Senior Lab Technician, Muriel Kirkpatrick. She has dedicated her life to the preservation of these artifacts, and I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this research without her.
This piece is the culmination of my work in the lab. It isn’t a formal paper. It doesn’t have a single narrative thread because creating one would take many more years of research and would honestly be a bit disingenuous to the place. The artifacts are spread out over two floors and many cabinets. The history isn’t straightforward and the personal collides with the impersonal in a way only someone’s life work can do. Looking at all the beautiful artifacts, you begin to understand why someone would spend years collecting and documenting them.
The sections of this piece are all different but work together to tell the story of my experience in the labs and some of the threads I uncovered. Some sections are my impressions or feelings about specific topics, others are details of things that have happened inside and outside of the lab. Some sections are paraphrasing of articles I have read and other are direct copies of letters and list I found in files from the lab.
This is by no means a complete history, but I tried my best to include most of the compelling and extraordinary histories of the lab and the people that affected it.