Collections Curiosities Blog

Artifacts of Summer

Collections Curiosities is a monthly blog highlighting intriguing artifacts, books, and archival materials that staff, volunteers, and interns have discovered in Center collections and the Center Library. This month, Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator Vanessa Chappins explores artifacts that remind her of summer.

Artifacts of Summer
By Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator Vanessa Chappins

Beverage bottles (L to R): 1. Beverage, (Armour’s Grape), 1880-1919, Armour & Co. adult-size juice; 2. Welch’s Grape, colorless glass, 1905-2018, Welch’s Jr. bottle; 3. Beverage, 1905-1930, Charles E. Hires Co. root beer; 4. Soda mineral water beverage, aqua glass, 1898-1919, San Diego Soda Works; 5. Alcohol (Virginia Dare), aqua glass, 1908-1925, Garrett & Co., American wine

During summer, BBQ foods, cold drinks, and spending time on the beach are popular. When working in the Center lab, our volunteers and interns sometimes come across artifacts that remind them of these summertime pleasures. Here are a few highlights recently found in SDAC collections.

San Diego Soda Works
Credit: San Diego History Center

San Diego county inhabitants in the mid-1800s to early 1900s consumed some of the same summer drinks and condiments that we do today. Now, we often use plastic bottles, but back then, many beverages and condiments came in glass. Well-preserved glass artifacts can indicate manufacturing dates, company names, and even what the contents were inside. Many volunteers and interns use these markings to help identify the artifacts and their connection to the site where they were found.

Ad from the Ladies Home Journal, July 1889


Brands and types of beverages are still very much recognizable such as Welch’s Grape juice, root beer, mineral water, beer, and even wine! One interesting find is Item 1, an adult-size Armour’s grape juice bottle. Item 2 is a is a junior-sized Welch’s bottle, a well-known brand still sold at grocery stores.

Item 3 is a root beer bottle dating back to 1905 and was manufactured by a company called Charles E. Hires Co. You can read more about Hires Root Beer in this article.

The fizzy-water fad is not unique to today’s crowd. Item 4 is a soda mineral water bottle that dates back as early as 1898 and was manufactured locally at the San Diego Soda Works.

Item 5 is an aqua-tinted glass from a company called Garrett & Co., and it held an American wine called Virginia Dare.


Condiment bottles (L to R): 6. Salad dressing condiment (yacht club), colorless glass, 1905-1929, Tildesley Co.; 7. Salad dressing condiment, colorless glass, 1908-1929, E..R. Durkee & Co..; 8. Ketchup condiment, colorless glass, 1918-1923, H.J Heinz Co.; 9. Chili powder food/condiment, colorless glass, 1916-1929; Gebhardt Chili Powder
Heinz ketchup bottle

Variations of condiments that we use today can also be found in the collections. Items 6 and 7 are salad dressing bottles. You can read more about Tildesley & Co. Yacht Club Salad Dressing in this blog post.

The one company that continues to dominate the condiment world is H. J Heinz Co. Item 8 is a 1918 H.J. Heinz Co. ketchup bottle.

Item 9 held a chili powder that was manufactured in 1916 by a company called Gebhardt. Originating in Texas, this spice was influenced by Hispanic cuisine and helped create a taste for more diverse flavors in American home cooking. You can read more about Gebhardt’s Chili Powder in this blog post.


Label for a can of Gebhardt’s Chili Con Carne
Credit: University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries

During this time period, many home cooks in the United States were reluctant to purchase items that they were used to making themselves at home. The marketing team for many of these companies worked hard to create followings for these new foods on the market.

San Diego has changed greatly since the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, and those changes are often reflected in our collections. Despite these differences, many artifacts are similar to items that we still use today. We hope that you have been inspired to discover the origins of your favorite summertime foods and beverages.

Volunteers work in the Center’s Research Library, cataloguing materials and organizing on a computer-based system.

Marketing and Administrative Volunteers assist the Development Office or Administration Office with data entry, updating marketing materials and clerical tasks. Computer experience is a plus.

Docents welcome visitors and answer general questions regarding the Center and exhibits. Docents staff the gift shop and help out with administrative and curatorial tasks.

Volunteers support event activities at the Center, such as the Annual BBQ, lectures, workshops, and fundraising events. Be a part of the party!

Volunteer provide support for K-12 programs offered at the Center. These are fun, hands-on programs that kids really enjoy. Teaching experience is a plus, but not required. Background checks are required.


With the assistance of Center staff, the intern will use photogrammetry to prepare one or more archaeological collections for digital preservation, as well as create a virtual museum exhibit for our Public Archaeology department. Per approval, special projects of the intern’s choosing are also available. During the research and planning, the intern will receive guidance as appropriate to their selected project. Prospective interns should already be familiar with photogrammetric procedures, and Agisoft Metashape.

Collections Management

With the assistance of Center staff, the intern will prepare one or more archaeological collections for curation. During the course of the internship, the intern will learn to identify artifacts and ecofacts common to the San Diego region, including lithics, ceramics, historical objects, and faunal, botanical, and mineral specimens. Center staff will instruct the intern on archaeological laboratory procedures such as basic artifact analysis, manual and computer cataloguing, storage requirements, and preventative conservation. In addition, the intern will become familiar with historical trends in archaeological practice in the San Diego area and will be introduced to current legal and ethical issues in archaeological curation as well as the concerns and rights of culturally affiliated groups with regard to archaeological materials.

Development and Marketing

Under the direction of Center staff, the intern will support the department in various activities, including, but not limited to, fundraising and grant research; e-newsletter development; social media marketing; and website maintenance. This internship will give the intern valuable, real-world experience in non-profit fundraising and marketing.

Geographical Information Systems in Archaeology

Prospective Interns must have completed three courses: Introduction to GIS, GIS Database Management, and Intermediate/Advanced Methods in GIS. The intern will be assigned a project where they will create shapefiles and maps for curated archaeological collections, museum exhibits, and/or public outreach using ArcGIS 10.6. Center staff will instruct the intern on archaeological GIS laboratory procedures such as computer cataloguing, storage requirements, and database management.

Library Science

With the assistance of Center staff, the intern will arrange and catalog materials in the Center’s library. During the course of the internship, the intern will take a leading role in the cataloging, sorting and storing of research files and creating user guides for these collections. Center staff will instruct the intern on archival procedures, computer cataloging, storage requirements, and preventative conservation.

Public Archaeology

Harness your passion for Public Archaeology and gain hands-on experience with K-12 museum field trips, lectures, and public outreach. Additional projects may include creating virtual museum exhibits and activities, assisting in the development and implementation of K-12 curricula programs, planning and presenting public facing content, or educational field trip content of your own design. Must be able to pass a Live Scan.