SCA Orphaned Archaeological Collections Professional Services and Curation Project 2020

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, 2019. 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 2020 Orphaned Collections Application in the subject line. The winner will be announced at the 2020 Annual Meeting.

2019 Orphaned Collections Grants Recipients

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



Elizabeth Niec
Sonoma State University
Branscomb Collection


The Branscomb Collection is a 34 box collection containing artifacts from over 233 sites, the majority of which are from Lake County. The collection was donated to Sonoma State University in 1974 and has not had significant work done to organize it since 1978. It lacks proper documentation of contents, storage materials and organization. This collection contains artifacts from numerous sites with research potential. I propose to create a typed artifact catalog, print artifact tags, update the catalog to include trinomials and other new sites designations, take inventory of missing artifacts, reorganize items to be stored by site, and create a new inventory of boxes. While doing this work, I will be taking extra time to examine the materials/sites from the Branscomb Collection which have known Paleoindian associations, furthering my potential graduate research in the Clear Lake region.

Past Awardees

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