by Bernard K. Means

As Thanksgiving 1936 approached, Edgar Augustine–who directed Work Projects Administration (WPA) groups in Somerset County, Pennsylvania–acknowledged a letter from R. H. Krissinger, a Pennsylvania WPA administrator:

In the words of my grandpappy, your letter received and contents noted…. I am very much afraid that it would not be advisable to operate the project during the winter with thirty diggers. We are not prepared to operate two sites simultaneously.

Augustine was not objecting to winter excavations.  In fact, he and his WPA crew were actively working on the Peck sites at the Meyersdale fairgrounds during November 1936. The work relief crew was taking a break for the Thanksgiving holiday and not because of the winter weather.  Rather, Augustine continued his fight to ensure that he did not have more men than he could effectively direct on an archaeology project.  He respected his unskilled crew, but too many men could cause irreparable damage to the fragile archaeological record.  Augustine was successful in keeping his crews manageable and we continue to rely on his research efforts to this day.

Winter excavation at the Peck 1 Monongahela village.

In closing his response to Krissinger, Augustine acknowledged the upcoming holiday:

I Trust that you will find the “greasy bird” delectable and with best wishes for the Thanksgiving gluttony…..

And, his signature read…. “Archaeologist No. .000000000.”

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