SCA Orphaned Archaeological Collections Professional Services and Curation Project 2022

Orphaned Archaeological Collection Project Guidelines

The Society for California Archaeology (SCA) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) understand the importance and ethical obligation of caring for archaeological collections with respect and ensuring their availability to current and future researchers. We recognize that many collections representing California’s heritage have fallen victim to the curation crisis and have not been properly cared for over the years. Students, collections managers, archaeologists, and curators who are working on these so-called “orphaned collections” are invited to apply for support from the SCA towards cataloging and research on an existing collection.

Thanks to the support of BLM, SCA has a total of $2,600 annually to administer over the next three years. Costs supported include materials and supplies for re-housing collections in archival quality storage, wages, travel and per diem, and research access costs, such as photocopying.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Preference will be given to student research leading to a graduate degree, but is not restricted to applicants associated with a university. Recipients shall be members in good standing with the SCA
  • The collection must have been “orphaned” for at least ten years, and cannot be associated with a current or ongoing project
  • Chain of ownership of the collection must be unambiguous, with rights to study the collection granted to the collection facility holding the artifacts
  • The collection must either lack previous research on part of all of the collection, or the research is incomplete
  • The completed project must include a digital database of the material sorted, cataloged and researched as well as a full report in PDF format.
  • The SCA shall be acknowledged in any resulting reports, exhibits or other literature produced as part of the collections project
  • Grantees shall submit a report detailing the work completed 

How to Apply:

Please send applications to the SCA Business Office via email by December 15th, 2021. Applications should consist of a cover letter containing contact information and a one-paragraph summary of the project, with no more than three (3) pages of additional supporting information outlining the history of the collection, proposed research, and methods and means for circulating the final product. Letters of support are encouraged and can be submitted in addition to the supporting information. Please note that a letter of support from the collections facility, granting access to the collection, is required as part of the application. Please identify your application as such by putting 2022 Orphaned Collections Application in the subject line. The winner will be announced at the 2022 Annual Meeting.

2020 Orphaned Collections Professional Services and Curation Project 

Tyler R. Molter
University of Nevada, Reno

Project Summary

The primary objective of the proposed project is to organize shell midden materials from sites excavated on Santa Rosa Island nearly 25 years ago and obtain faunal data from these collections as a central component of my MA thesis research. A total of seven column samples were excavated from the large coastal settlement sites CA-SRI-130 (2), CA-SRI-131 (1), and CA-SRI-436 (4) in 1996 by Douglas Kennett, who was then a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Dr. Kennett has published chronological and stable oxygen isotopic data obtained from site materials (Kennett 1998, 2005), but the midden has only been partially sorted and the faunal data from these sites has not been published. These collections have since been transferred to Dr. Christopher Jazwa, now at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). Dr. Jazwa is my MA advisor and was Dr. Kennett’s PhD student at Pennsylvania State University. These collections are especially valuable because excavation opportunities are limited within the Channel Islands National Park (CHIS), particularly at previously excavated sites. All three sites are large, primary settlement sites (Kennett 2005) that have strong potential to provide information about settlement patterns on the south side of Santa Rosa Island, the focus of my MA research, and will augment data from other sites excavated more recently (Jazwa et al. 2016b). Furthermore, as a part of this project, I will prepare the collections for accessioning at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (SBMNH), where all collections from Channel Islands National Park are stored in perpetuity. Furthermore, this project will have an important education component, as I will work with UNR undergraduate volunteers and paid workers throughout this project. I request funding for lab supplies including bags, hourly wages for student workers, and costs for transportation of the processed collections to SBMNH.


2020 Orphaned Collections Professional Services and Curation Project 

The 2020 Orphaned Collections Award for 2020 goes to Susan Gilliand and Joan Schneider for their project, Curating the Blue Goose

Curating the Blue Goose: 1A Project to Assemble, Prepare for Curation, Curate, and Publish the Research Data and Artifact Collection from Dr. Claude N. Warren’s 1960’s Excavations at the C.W. Harris site CA-SDI-149.

Submitted by: Susan H Gilliland, Archaeological Collections Specialist, for project led by Dr. Joan Schneider



This project will organize, catalog and curate a classic “orphan collection” held by a retired archaeologist, Dr. Claude N. Warren. For over 50 years Dr. Warren has stored all the field notes, artifacts, maps, drawings, photographs and analyses from his 1965 and 1967 excavations at the

C.W. Harris site in the San Diego coastal region. Although it was Dr. Warren’s intention to complete this project, the work from this very important site was always set aside for more pressing projects. His analyses are only partially completed, and the artifacts and field data have not been organized and prepared for curation. Much of the material is still in the original paper field bags. Unfortunately, Warren is not able to complete his long-deferred research. He has authorized Dr. Joan Schneider and her associate Susan Gilliland to assemble, organize, curate and publish this material. Wendy Teeter, Archaeological Curator of the Fowler Museum at UCLA, will accept the entire collection into permanent curation once it has been properly cataloged. Schneider and Gilliland have made three trips to Las Vegas, Nevada to gather and assemble the physical and digital materials. All materials are now stored together in a safe location. This winter the team will begin sorting and cataloging the approximately 30 boxes of material. Schneider and Gilliland will publish the written portions of the research that has been partially completed by Dr. Warren. The entire collection will be available to researchers when it is moved to the Fowler. The team presented a paper on this project during the 2019 Kelso Conference. Our work on this project is pro-bono. We would use SCA Grant money to purchase archival supplies to prepare the collection for submission to the Fowler Museum under the Fowler Museum Curation Agreement protocol.

1 The Blue Goose is the affectionate name for Dr. Warren’s stand-alone office at his former Nevada home.

Past Awardees

2019 Koji Lau-Ozawa
Stanford University
Santa Barbara’s historic Nihonmachi (Japantown)

Elizabeth Niec
Sonoma State University
Branscomb Collection

2018 Kaya Wiggins 
Humboldt State University
Cayucos Bluff collection

2017 Sarah Heffner
PAR Environmental
Yreka Chinatown Collection

2016 Teresa Saltzman
Museum of the American Indian
North Coast Archaeology Society (NCAS) Collection