Making Connections in Gallery One

Everyday Objects of the Past Can Spark Imagination

If you have visited the Ohio History Center this fall, you know that the Great Collections Experiment is under way. We are trying out new ideas on how to display our collections, and, as always, would love to hear your input. The first of these experiments is now open in Gallery One, and focuses on the everyday objects found in kitchens throughout time.

Of the over 1,000 objects on view, an item I am particularly fond of is a cast iron cauldron (H 27887). It measures 25.7 cm high and 33.5 cm wide. Its style is typical of cauldrons and kettles produced in the 1700s to early 1800s: three legs, a handle, and angled ears. Nowadays they are commonly referred to as “witches’ cauldrons”, but these pots were essential fixtures of open hearth kitchens. In Ohio’s frontier days the house was generally designed around a large central fireplace used for cooking and heating the home. It was hard work to tend a fire and cook over it all day. Cast iron is thick and durable and the legs allow the pot to stand in hot coals for a nice even simmer.

 In the archaeology collections for a 1932 excavation at Fort Jefferson (A1332) there are several large fragments of cast iron cauldrons of this exact style. The Fort was erected in 1791 and abandoned in 1796. I had the pleasure of cleaning the layers upon layers of dirt and iron oxide corrosion from thick cast iron pieces excavated from the footprint of the fort. It was hard work but sometimes it’s fun to get dirty. What’s even more fun is to see the juxtaposition of nearly identical objects when one has been tended by generations of owners, and the other has been broken, discarded, and buried for over 140 years. 

Visitors to Gallery One often point out an object similar to something their mother or grandmother used. Be it an iron skillet or a blender, a tea kettle or an ice box, we would love for you to make a connection of your own to an object or person of the past.


Posted November 19, 2015
Topics: MilitarySettlement & StatehoodArchaeologyDaily Life

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