Thoughts while at work in the lab…

Amy Joy Litterer
URS Corporation
Burlington, New Jersey (USA)

I start my day examining recently cleaned items which had been discarded into the soil, or nightsoil, within the past few hundred years. I cannot help but wonder how these items were lost, and what emotional ties people had to them. Fading marbles, broken dishes, medicine and alcohol bottles, rusted and corroded jewelry, dismembered doll parts, and whimsical glass shapes that flow and bend, and inevitably, broke and were tossed away, all find their way to my hands before I pack them away for the next stage of their journey. Once these items were fun, useful, or valuable to someone, but they lay covered in dirt for quite some time and only now have they been cleaned for the first time in a century or more, and it is time to sort and count and allocate them to bags containing the remnants of similar items from the same location. While bagging these artifacts, I wonder where they will go after I am done packing them into their temporary bags and boxes, whether they will find a home in storage after being catalogued by my co-workers, or if they will come together again as whole items and go on display, for all Philadelphians to marvel at the tools, toys, and treasures of yesteryear. But for now they are in my hands, and I separate another small piece of redware from the piles of glass, porcelain, and nails.”