"Sunshine Corner": Archaeology and the Domestic Reform Movement in West Oakland, California

Domestic reformers described West Oakland as a "district of great ugliness," "a law-abiding workingman's district settled chiefly by hard-working foreigners, with a sprinkling of Americans." From the mid-1880s, local women's clubs worked in West Oakland founding a community center that included a kitchen garden, kindergarten, boys' club, mothers' club, Salvage Bureau (or household goods recycling center), and a School of Domestic Science. This community center was surrounded by 39 blocks that will be developed for reconstruction of the earthquake-damaged Cypress Freeway. The archaeological research design for this project addresses a variety of issues that are relevant to this 19th-and early 20th-century working-class neighborhood, including Victorian ideology that was supplemented by the progressive ideas and social activism of the domestic reform movements. While the movements' goals and activities in West Oakland are well documented, only archaeology can provide indications of its success in translating progressive, modern values to the area's culturally diverse families.