Heathcott “Reading the Accidental Archive”

Heathcott begins by discussing the artifacts found within the Aufderheide collection (239).  He notes how “researchers in material culture typically triangulate sources in order to develop robust interpretive frameworks and strategies” (240).  Heathcott then states how the artifacts left by the Aufderheide family does not represent a higher-class home, but rather a middle-class identity (241).  Then, Heathcott discusses embedded artifacts by discussing how the Aufderheide property “becomes place through the accumulation of ‘improvements’ over time, such as sewers, grading, house, garage, utilities, retaining walls, fences . . .” which traces lives, various fashions and customs used (241).  Next, Heathcott discusses the “Urban, Civic, and Neighborhood Landscapes of St. Louis” (243).  He notes the division of the German Immigrants prior, during, and post the Civil War (243).  Even thought the city became industrialized fast and became wealthy, their was uneven distribution among the people – tenements, middle class, high class housing (243).  Heathcott then notes the “social frameworks of an urban public culture” by noting how “the dwellings around Tower Grove Park contained small, ethnically diverse families, with the exception that no African Americans resided in the neighborhood” (247).  Furthermore, he notes the most important character of the community – “the occupations of the heads of the household and their working dependents” (248).  He describes that surrounding Tower Grove Park, most individuals were self-employed, “middle managers and supervisors in business concerns, and educated professionals” (248).  Some earned income by “offering services from their home,” but mostly, individuals “were white-collar professionals, managers, and staff employed by larger business operations” (248).  Next, Heathcott discusses “architecture and the petite Bourgeoisie” by describing how the house and its surrounding neighbors are in a “clearly demarcated status in the urban hierarchic” (249).  A very important note that Heathcott mentions is that the “democratic character of the middling housing stock around Tower Grove Park unfolded in tension with nearby elite neighborhoods” and notes how “the building and the paper fragments form a mutually constitutive archive, one that revels the elated yet anxious world that the petite bourgeoisie carved out for itself in the early twentieth-century city” (251).  Next, Heathcott discusses the “forging identity and connectivity in daily urban life” by discussing how the urban experience of these middle-class families was their effort to “pursue their cherished individualism through connection to broader civic and commercial networks” (257).  Heathcott then discusses the social effect of clothing on the society at this time and how “clothes constituted a system of meaning for middle-class men and women” (258).  Also, Heathcott notes the impact of advertisements on class and gender (258).  In his conclusion, Heathcott notes how the architecture and material artifacts discovered “suggest profound inner conflicts and contradictory impulses” by lead to a “thick network of civil, religious, and commercial institutions” (267).