Authors' Names

Kate GonzalesFollow

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Category

Social Sciences/Humanities

Abstract/Artist Statement

My research examines artifacts recovered from Cranky Sam Public House (CSPH), a brewery located in downtown Missoula where, in the summer of 2019, construction uncovered a significant amount of archaeological evidence related to Missoula's historic red-light district and Chinese community. This red-light district began operating in the late nineteenth century and continued to grow significantly until its closure in 1916. While many perceptions of early sex workers in American West towns focus on the vice activity associated with their employment, I hope to shift toward a narrative that provides alternative perspectives of these diverse women's lives. My thesis questions how women working in Missoula's historic red-light district demonstrated their agency through the intimate spaces they created in publicly accessible houses of prostitution. I theorize that women working in this district created a sense of intimacy and domesticity, visible through their consumption practices and highly influenced by gendered social constructions that worked actively in their daily lives and routines. My method utilizes a feminist theoretical examination of the artifacts recovered from the CSPH site concurrently with archival research. The artifacts collected include various bottles and bottle parts (alcohol, medicinals, cosmetic containers, non-alcoholic beverages, serving glassware), ceramics (serving dishes), and animal remains. I will employ a study of primary resources through archival research of census records, city directories, genealogical research, newspaper articles, historic photographs, and property maps. Evaluating material culture in conjunction with archival sources provides an interdisciplinary approach highlighting the multiple lines of evidence necessary to sew together an accurate, historical narrative for any marginalized group. Further, examining capitalism, globalization, industrialization concurrent with feminist theoretical studies provides a valuable method of evaluating the larger topic of the role of sex workers in the development of the American West. I believe this research will significantly contribute to an increased understanding, acceptance, and respect for the historically marginalized communities of early settlement in Missoula. My thesis topic has great relevance to archaeology, feminist studies, and history that will lead to a greater understanding of the cultural beliefs and historical implications that comprise our contemporary perspectives of sex work. The archaeological record provides insights that critically question representations of gender in the historical record. These interpretations are necessary to preserve the diverse history of early Montana by preserving past residents' stories.

Mentor Name

Kelly Dixon

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Public Places, Intimate Spaces: An Archaeology of Prostitution in Missoula, Montana

My research examines artifacts recovered from Cranky Sam Public House (CSPH), a brewery located in downtown Missoula where, in the summer of 2019, construction uncovered a significant amount of archaeological evidence related to Missoula's historic red-light district and Chinese community. This red-light district began operating in the late nineteenth century and continued to grow significantly until its closure in 1916. While many perceptions of early sex workers in American West towns focus on the vice activity associated with their employment, I hope to shift toward a narrative that provides alternative perspectives of these diverse women's lives. My thesis questions how women working in Missoula's historic red-light district demonstrated their agency through the intimate spaces they created in publicly accessible houses of prostitution. I theorize that women working in this district created a sense of intimacy and domesticity, visible through their consumption practices and highly influenced by gendered social constructions that worked actively in their daily lives and routines. My method utilizes a feminist theoretical examination of the artifacts recovered from the CSPH site concurrently with archival research. The artifacts collected include various bottles and bottle parts (alcohol, medicinals, cosmetic containers, non-alcoholic beverages, serving glassware), ceramics (serving dishes), and animal remains. I will employ a study of primary resources through archival research of census records, city directories, genealogical research, newspaper articles, historic photographs, and property maps. Evaluating material culture in conjunction with archival sources provides an interdisciplinary approach highlighting the multiple lines of evidence necessary to sew together an accurate, historical narrative for any marginalized group. Further, examining capitalism, globalization, industrialization concurrent with feminist theoretical studies provides a valuable method of evaluating the larger topic of the role of sex workers in the development of the American West. I believe this research will significantly contribute to an increased understanding, acceptance, and respect for the historically marginalized communities of early settlement in Missoula. My thesis topic has great relevance to archaeology, feminist studies, and history that will lead to a greater understanding of the cultural beliefs and historical implications that comprise our contemporary perspectives of sex work. The archaeological record provides insights that critically question representations of gender in the historical record. These interpretations are necessary to preserve the diverse history of early Montana by preserving past residents' stories.