We’re finishing out Women’s History Month by celebrating two very special women today during Museum Week! Both Virginia Kettering and Virginia Gerald were (and are) incredibly important to our Museum’s Collection. In fact, you can see some of Virginia Kettering’s pieces on display at our current, internally curated exhibition, Cut From the Same Cloth.
Virginia Gerald (1929 –)
Virginia Gerald, the first Curator of Anthropology at the DSNH, was the principal excavator at the Lichliter site, which dates to the early portion of the Late Woodland, a poorly known time period in Ohio prehistory. This was the first excavation undertaken by DSNH and Gerald had to create and refine a methodology from scratch. The excavation began in 1962 and lasted through 1970 (with no field seasons in ‘66 or ‘67). From ‘62 to ‘68, the crew consisted of children and teenagers ages 9 to 17. In the ‘69 and ‘70 seasons, undergraduate and graduate students assisted with excavation. Gerald worked under limiting and demanding conditions and did an outstanding job. In 2012, the Lichliter collection was returned to the DSNH after being “hidden” for almost 40 years. Although the collection had become jumbled from several cross-country moves, DSNH staff were humbled to discover that Gerald had put an impressive amount of effort into the collection and a nearly complete dissertation. When staff were finally able to untangle the collection, it became clear that the quality of Gerald’s work was exceptional and that her devotion to the project had spanned her entire adult life. The significance of Gerald’s work at Lichliter extended throughout the years – the DSNH has completed numerous excavations which resulted in numerous collections, including SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park (excavated in the 1970s and ‘80s), and Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark (where excavations began in the 1990s and continue today).
Virginia Kettering (1907-2003)
Virginia Kettering's involvement with the Dayton Society of Natural History involved donations towards the construction of an interpretive center at SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park, which opened in 1988.The construction of this building changed SunWatch from an archaeological excavation into an entirely new museum destination. For her efforts, she was awarded the SunWatch First Citizen Award in 1998 during the tenth anniversary celebration. This award was given to her because she had "significantly helped SunWatch and furthered an understanding of American Indian culture." At this time, she was given a Native American name ("Silver Moon") during a traditional Native American ceremony. In 1988, Virginia also gave a significant donation to the DSNH Anthropology Department. In addition to her monetary gifts, Kettering donated many objects from her personal collection to DSNH's ethnographic collections. These include weapons, jewelry, traditional religious objects, textiles, animal specimens, and pottery. These donated objects are routinely featured in permanent and temporary exhibits at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.
Photos from MS-363, The Kettering Family Papers, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.