SCA Orphaned Archaeological Collections Professional Services and Curation Project 2019

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, 2018. 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 2019 Orphaned Collections Application in the subject line. The winner will be announced at the 2018 Annual Meeting.

2018 Orphaned Collections Grants Recipients

Kaya Wiggins 
Humboldt State University
Cayucos Bluff collection

Filling in the Gap: A Contribution to our Understanding of Estero Bay with Insight from Cayucos


Estero Bay is an area on the Central Coast of California that has only recently seen significant research. These investigations of the bay were focused to the south from various CRM projects in the towns of Los Osos and Morro Bay. Little is known about the north end of Estero Bay due to a lack of development. The goal of this research is to contribute information to our current understanding of this bay by investigating the northern portion of it, in and around the town of Cayucos. This will be accomplished by synthesizing data from various CRM investigations and also from revitalization efforts to an orphaned collection, the Cayucos Bench Collection. The Cayucos Bench Collection was excavated in the 1960s by the SLO County Amateur Archaeologists, the precursor to SLOCAS. The collection is important because it represents one of the few excavations from the Cayucos Bluffs, an area rich with data potential that is rapidly eroding into the ocean. Research and comparative analysis of previous investigations along with my own field investigations will shed some light on this area and contribute to the prehistoric tapestry of the Estero Bay.

Past Awardees

2017 Sarah Heffner
PAR Environmental
Yreka Chinatown Collection

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