Often while analyzing archaeological data, a seemingly ordinary artifact or assemblage tells an unexpected story. In my case, this was the dozen amber embossed bleach bottles from the Whaley House collection. While analyzing the collection, I developed several basic research questions: when was bleach introduced, who used it, and most importantly, why? This “why” led to an exploration of marketing, branding, and consumption. Why was a product like Clorox (unknown at the turn of the 20th century) widely consumed and considered essential circa WWII? Did an increase in exposure to brand name advertising correlate with increased bleach consumption? By taking a look at various trends around the WWII era, I became aware of the profound impact of advertising and marketing on bleach consumption. This is an important factor to consider as we contemplate what the archaeological record of the future will look like. In this presentation I will briefly discuss my findings, a short history of bleach, how brand marketing and advertising affect the consumer, and what it means to the archaeological record.
Kathy Collins is an archaeologist for California State Parks, Southern Service Center and volunteer at San Diego Archaeological Center. She received her Master’s Degree in Anthropology with a focus on archaeology. Kathy is especially interested in historical artifacts. Her thesis entitled An Anthropological and Archaeological Analysis of American Victorian (1876-1915) and Progressive Era (1900-1920) Medicine in San Diego, California focused on the glass collection from the Whaley House excavation. As an archaeologist for State Parks, Kathy travels throughout Southern California monitoring construction projects, surveying and excavating as well as curating and cataloguing artifact collections in the lab and writing reports. Throughout her travels and work in Southern California, Kathy looks for the hidden stories that lie beneath the surface.