Anthropology, Department of


First Advisor

Effie Athanassopoulos

Second Advisor

Claire Nicholas

Third Advisor

Heather Richards-Rissetto

Date of this Version

Fall 11-2018


Neumann, Amy 2018. "Life in Lincoln: Deciphering the Archaeological Material Culture of a Turn of the 20th Century Neighborhood." MA thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Anthropology, Under the Supervision of Professor Effie Athanassopoulos. Lincoln, Nebraska: November, 2018.

Copyright (c) 2018 Amy Neumann


In June 1999, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) conducted a two-week salvage archaeology project during the early construction phase of the Kauffman Residential Center, an honors dormitory on campus. Nineteen archaeological features were discovered and fourteen were excavated from this historically residential area covering approximately one city block. The excavated archaeological materials include a large number of glass bottles, ceramics, metal artifacts, faunal remains, and personal items dating to the turn of the 20th century.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Lincoln, Nebraska experienced substantial population growth. The city thrived on manufacturing and purchasing goods allowing the economy to grow and expanding its middle class. The city’s status as a railroad hub allowed the residents of Lincoln to be able to choose from a multitude of products produced across the country and internationally allowing them to choose from similar items that fulfilled their wants and needs based on their own interests. An in-depth analysis of the artifacts from this excavation contributes to a better understanding of the market and consumer’s personal choices in Lincoln and other Great Plains cities during this period.

This thesis examines the archaeological artifacts from five features of the Kauffman Dormitory site (25LC156), associated historical records, and the national socio-cultural history of this era to better understand the everyday lives of people living in this neighborhood. Questions including what types of items they used, where the items came from, and what these artifacts can tell us about the lives of the people who owned them are explored. Archaeological analysis is the primary focus of this thesis with historical and cultural context allowing for a greater understanding of the people living in this neighborhood located near the University of Nebraska at the turn of the 20th century. This study highlights the information that can be gained by combing historical sources, archaeological artifacts, and socio-cultural knowledge to understand the lives of people in the recent past.

Advisor: Effie Athanassopoulos