The Women of Irene Mound 


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View of South Carolina from the Irene Mound.
The only access to the Irene Mound.
Hand lettered sign painted by Marmaduke Floyd.
One of the first trenches dug.  It ran east-west through the site.
View of the proximity of the Irene Mound to the Savannah River.
Behind this man and woman, a large pile of brush and debris sits at the edge of the woods.   All the area was cleared by hand.
As soon as artifacts or features in the soil began to appear, excavators stopped using shovels and began to carefully, painstakingly remove the soil using a mason's trowel.
This photo illustrates how narrow the trenches were in the first stages of excavation.
Piles of sand in the upper right of the photo were called "slumps."   This was debris dirt from the trench.
This is the same view of the Savannah River from the Irene Mound as seen in photo 1, taken in early September 1937.
In this photo, taken in November 1937, some of the women are pausing to fill their tobacco pipes.
Approximately 15 men were hired at the Irene Mound project, but not as excavators.  They were employed as carpenters and laborers.
Bundled up against the cold weather, this woman wears an overcoat, scarves, and a knit cap as she carefully sifts through the soil in  her shovel.
This excavator examines the shovel for potsherds.
Women selected for this Works Project Administration excavation were the head of their households, were widows, or single mothers.
The women excavators were classified as unskilled laborers, and by some accounts, were paid less than $18 a month.
Ditch running westward.
This shows the intersection of two trenches late in December 1937. 
December 20, 1937:  Women working in the main trench.
Joseph Caldwell, one of five different archaeologists on the Irene Mound project, instructs an excavation team.
This woman is using a trowel to smooth the sides of a wall unit in an effort to make a profile of the stratigraphic features.
Another excavator preparing the profile surface of  a trench wall.
Notice how none of the women wore slacks while working.    According to interviewers, it was very unusual for women to wear pants to work, even in conditions such as this.
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