Remnants from “A World In Miniature”: Life Aboard The Steamboat Heroine, 1832 - 1838
Sponsored by Southwest Texas Archaeological Society (AIA-San Antonio)
AIA Society Event: Southwest TX (San Antonio)
Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 7:30pm
Chapman Auditorium, Trinity University
San Antonio, TX 78212
Popular perception of life on board 19th century steamboats is often an idyllic one, based on works such as Mark Twain’s view from a pilot house. Such narratives contribute to the status of steamboats as an American icon, but current historical research and an increasing number of archaeological examples provides a more complex view of steamboat life. One of the most recent examples is Heroine (1832-38), excavated from 2003-2008 near Fort Towson, Oklahoma on the Red River. One of the aspects of the wreck is the collection of personal possessions recovered during excavation. These artifacts provide unique insight into steamboat life, but also highlight larger challenges in archaeological interpretation due to active site formation processes of the river, a long history of salvage and variable exposure. Despite these challenges the findings touch on a wide range of topics, including commercialism, economic expansion, slavery, and social division during the 19th century when combined with the historical record. Heroine serves as a litmus test for modern perceptions of life on board a 19th century steamboat through this utilization of both the material remains and the historical record. The lecturer, Heather Jones, is a Trinity alumna ('07) and now a Masters' student in the Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University.